Traditional Alaska Native mask.

Celebrating Native Languages in 2019

Slippers with native beadwork

Throughout 2019 the Morris Thompson Center is hosting events celebrating the Native languages of Interior Alaska, including introductions to Native languages, activities for families, and panel discussions.  Monthly film screenings celebrating Native languages will take place from September through December 2019. 

A special part of this series is “Denaakk’e Dedeenee,” consisting of five monthly Denaak’e language activities for children with a parent or caregiver.  Dewey Hoffman, a Denaakk’e learner, educator, and activist, helped to envision the series.  “I’m inspired by our young people who are hungry to learn our Tl’eeyegge Hʉt’aane culture through Denaakk’e and have such bright attitudes,” says Hoffman when we asked him about his inspiration for the program. “I’m working on building fluency at home and strengthening our Denaakk’e learning community in Fairbanks and across interior villages. It takes a lot of time and effort to build fluency in any language. I’m putting in the hard work now so that future generations will be able to learn at home in a Denaakk’e positive environment with high expectations like my grandparents did.” 

Led by Doyon Foundation Language Revitalization program staff Diloola Erickson and Jennifer Mayo-Shannon, Denaakk’e Dedeenee takes place in the Morris Thompson Center Elders’ Hall, giving easy access to the exhibits and the Denakkanaaga elders next door.  Each activity is designed around a theme.  On June 21, kids will learn language for giving and taking directions through games like Simon says and charades.  The July 12 session will teach about chores and counting games.  On August 16 participants will learn about colors and beading while making their own necklaces. Each session runs from 3:30 pm – 5 pm.

Organized collaboratively by the Morris Thompson Center, The Doyon Foundation Language Revitalization Program, UAF’s Alaska Native Language Center, Denakkanaaga, and Tanana Chiefs Conference Cultural Programs, these events are free and open to the public. All are welcome!