Foundation Awards $50,000 in Language Revitalization Grants
Doyon Foundation will award $50,000 in language revitalization grants this spring as part of its Our Language grant program. The Foundation received 17 proposals for consideration this year. After careful review and evaluation by the selection committee, nine proposals have been fully or partially funded. Of this year’s recipients, seven are first-time awardees.
The 10 ancestral languages of the Doyon region are all severely to critically endangered, and the Our Language grant program was developed to support the revitalization of these languages. Doyon, Limited originally established the language grant program in 2012. The Foundation’s language revitalization program now administers the grant program.
“We are deeply grateful for Doyon, Limited’s support of both the Our Language grant program, as well as our language revitalization program,” said Doris Miller, Foundation executive director.
This year’s funded projects represent many different aspects of language revitalization, from documentation to curriculum development to summer camp activities. The 2016 Our Language grants will help to fund the following efforts:
Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC): ANHC will offer eight language immersion sessions (two Saturdays per month) from November to February in Koyukon and Gwich’in. Experienced instructors will work with eight apprentices. The goal of these sessions is to develop a cohort of new language instructors.
Anvik: Deg Xinag Digitization Project. The Anvik Tribal Council will promote language revitalization by digitizing Deg Xinag language recordings collected over 40-plus years. These recordings represent stories, language lessons, history, knowledge and culture from elders that have passed on. These items will be converted into digital-format DVDs and MP4s to reach younger generations.
Eagle: This project involves working with fluent speakers to integrate language into key cultural activities, including hunting, fishing, sewing, drum and canoe making, with a goal to provide context and greater meaning for learners. Eagle is incorporating this project into a larger initiative supported by CIRI Foundation’s Journey to What Matters, which focuses on revitalizing traditional arts and crafts.
Huslia: Denaakk’e Hustlers Project. In Huslia this summer, youth workers will develop basic Denaakk’e lessons with instructor Susan Paskvan. Young people will collect lessons and other materials from elders and share them with other language-learners by posting online. “We live in a changing world … and we have to bridge the gap between elders and youth. This project is one way that we can bring young and old together around language,” wrote Tribal Administrator Shandara Swatling.
Koyukuk: Four community elders will instruct a class for adult language learners, with the aim to “speak in full sentences.” The adults will be immersed in the language, and will themselves become instructors by passing the language they learn on to young people.
Nenana: This project will integrate language learning into summer camp activities. Language topics will include familial terms, greetings, names for different plants, animals, days of the week, tools and materials. Students will also learn Athabascan songs and dances. The lessons will be shared using the Where Are Your Keys method, and documented for future learners.
Nikolai: Denak’i Nots’whtolnich. This project will gather elders together to speak Denak’i, and document the stories, songs, knowledge and insights they share. Nikolai has listed language as a high priority among their community goals.
Northway: This project will support weekly language instruction and materials for grades K-5 at the Walter Northway School. Instructor Lorraine Titus will teach language through songs and dances of the Northway Tribe. Titus also offers cultural nights, an annual summer camp, and other events during the school year. “This project is just a part of the bigger effort to support continued teaching of the Northway language,” said Tribal Administrator Nichol Rallo.
Rampart: The communities of Rampart and Tanana will collaborate on a language course at the Rampart Community Hall. The goal is for learners to be able to introduce themselves in Denaakk’e, and learn common greetings and traditional place names. Each learner will also make a book of nouns and verbs. Learners will be able to use the content in different combinations to create new and complete sentences.
Each of the projects also include plans to document language through the use of audio and video recordings, and some grant recipients will be posting their work online and social media. Watch the Foundation website, www.doyonfoundation.com, and Facebook page, www.facebook.com/doyonfoundation, for updates on the projects as they progress.
“There were many fine proposals this year, and the selection committee regrets that we cannot fund them all,” said Allan Hayton, Foundation language revitalization program director. “It is encouraging to see the range of proposals and the various activities planned to revitalize ancestral languages across the region. Doyon Foundation commends everyone for their commitment to the future of our languages, and encourages continued planning, and creative thinking for how we will continue our languages into the future.”
For more information on the grants or Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact Allan Hayton, Doyon Foundation language revitalization program director, at email@example.com or 907-459-2162.