Education and programs

Education and Programs

Diinzhii diiginjik zhit neera’aii
We are putting the breath back into our language
              Gwich’in, Athabascan

Revitalizing Indigenous Languages for Urban Alaska Native Residents
The Alaska Native Heritage Center received funding for a one year project in 2012 to address the rapid pace of language loss of urban Alaska Natives due to migration to urban areas, and develop strategies to preserve the languages of Alaska Natives living in the urban city of Anchorage.  Anchorage’s current language preservation resources are inadequate to meet the needs of the population. Therefore, ANHC began to develop a plan for preserving and revitalizing the diverse languages of Alaska Native people who are culturally displaced within the Anchorage area.
This one year grant gave the Heritage Center the opportunity to find out how many language learners and resources are in Alaska.  Our goal was to connect all Alaska Native language learners in Anchorage with the Native language programs in the state.  Success in obtaining the next grant will provide language classes at the ANHC in coming years.
Survey Results
The Alaska Native Heritage Center surveyed language learners and speakers around the state of Alaska to learn what barriers people face in learning their languages, as well as their learning styles.  Results show Yup’ik, Inupiaq, and Tlingit as the top three languages our respondents are interested in learning statewide. Eighty percent of parents in Anchorage said they are interested in enrolling their children in an immersion program, and 85% of parents want to learn with their children.  Of those surveyed, the greatest obstacle for Anchorage residents is their schedule (68.1%) with money as the second highest obstacle (37.5%). The most preferred method chosen for those living in and outside of Anchorage was listening/responding to a person followed by (in order most desirable to least): 
learning from relatives/elders 
informal classes/workshops 
computer programs 
formal classes 
books/written materials 
watching videos 
listening to CDs 
Almost 100% of Anchorage and non-Anchorage residents agreed that language opportunities should be accessible over the internet. The results from this survey assisted us in the prospect to apply for an additional language grant.
Urban Eskimo Language Revitalization Project
The Alaska Native Heritage Center received funding for a three year project in 2014 to address the goal to develop an Inupiaq and Yup’ik Language Program promoting culturally-based fluency through teacher training and development of multigenerational immersion classes and activities. Year one of the Urban Eskimo Language Revitalization Project (UELRP) grant began with recruiting and training teachers, assistant teachers, language advisors and elders. The language team attended four training workshops to build their teaching skills, giving them the tools to create curriculum for a series of eight multi-generation Inupiaq and Yup’ik classes at the Center.  
UELRP staff also hosted Akuttugut/Akutukut :Immersion Strategies Gathering offering the chance to observe and participate in multiple language circles, discuss successful immersion strategies being implemented, give public testimony, and learn the effects of historical trauma on language loss.
Now in the second year of the grant, the UELRP team continues to work towards the development of multigenerational classes and immersion activities.  The UELRP team continues to train and build off the four trainings from year one to expand their knowledge in these training methods to produce curriculum for a second series of fourteen multi-generational classes in Inupiaq and Yup’ik.  Planning for a two-day immersion camp in Yup’ik and Inupiaq, respectively, is also underway.  
Amillutivlugu ilÌ£isaurrirugut Uqausiptignik: Gathering all our resources we are teaching our language.  
Urban Eskimo Language Revitalization Project                               
Year three will bring more training for our language team, evening classes for the community, more immersion camps, and our third immersion strategies gathering.  
All of UELRP events, classes and gatherings are FREE to participants. For more information, contact our language department at (907) 330-8000.
At the conclusion of the third grant year, ANHC will seek additional grant funding to continue multigenerational language classes in the evening for the Anchorage community.