Hän Language Revitalization Work of the Late Isaac Juneby Gets New Life
For years, the lessons created by the late Isaac Juneby to share the endangered Hän language were used by a small group of dedicated learners from homemade photocopies and audio replicas of the original booklet and CD. Now, the lessons are getting new life through a partnership with Doyon Foundation, Transparent Languages and its nonprofit 7000 Languages, and support of Juneby’s family and community of Eagle Village.
A respected Alaska Native leader, wise Elder and fluent speaker of the Hän language, Juneby recorded the Hän language lessons in his Eagle dialect in 1994 with John Ritter of the Yukon Native Language Centre in Whitehorse, Yukon. The original tape of the lessons and accompanying booklet were made available in a limited run, but have long been out of circulation.
Juneby’s lessons are now available again, this time widely accessible and free to all interested learners through Doyon Foundation’s Doyon Languages Online project. Through the project, Doyon Foundation is creating introductory online lessons for nine of the 10 endangered Doyon region languages: Holikachuk, Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Benhti Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Hän, Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Deg Xinag, Denak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Nee’anděg’ (Tanacross) and Née’aaneegn’ (Upper Tanana).
“By posting Isaac’s language lessons in the online format, we hope to serve the needs of those wishing to advance their own speaking, listening and reading knowledge of the Hän language,” said Allan Hayton, director of the Foundation’s language revitalization program.
“We dedicate this work to Isaac’s memory, knowing that our friend would be delighted to see his work available in a modern format,” Ritter added.
“I hope that Isaac’s Hän language legacy embodied in these lessons will be enjoyed by all those interested in learning to speak and understand the ancestral language of the Hän Gwich’in of Eagle Village, Alaska,” said Juneby’s wife, Sandra Juneby.
“We are so honored to debut the Doyon Languages Online project with these very special lessons, and we are deeply grateful for the support of Isaac’s family and community,” said Doris Miller, Doyon Foundation executive director. “We hope these lessons will honor Isaac’s memory and carry forward his work to strengthen and share the Hän language with future generations.”
Interested learners can register to access the Hän lessons for free at www.doyonfoundation.com. For more information about Isaac Juneby, the Hän language, Doyon Languages Online or Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program, visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact Allan Hayton, Doyon Foundation language revitalization program director, at 907-459-2162 or firstname.lastname@example.org.