International Year of Indigenous Languages | Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center

International Year of Indigenous Languages

This event series is a collaboration between Denakkanaaga, Doyon Foundation, The Morris Thompson Center, Tanana Chiefs Conference Cultural Programs, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Alaska Native Language Center. The series is inspired by the example of UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages. Learn more about that at https://en.iyil2019.org/

 Check back on this page for updates as events are scheduled throughout the year.


Introduction to Denaakk’e through Bird Songs

Friday, April 5, 2019 – 6:30 PM
Morris Thompson Center Auditorium
Free – Open to the Public

“During the K’edon Ts’ednee times, a time long ago, the animals and birds were able to talk to each other. Many of our beliefs originated during these legendary times. The bird songs tell about events that happened during the K’edon Ts’ednee times.”

Join us to learn about the Denaakk’e language of Interior Alaska and its remarkable vocabulary to describe bird songs – or should I say bird conversations?

Susan Paskvan, known as “K’etsoo” in Denaakk’e (Koyukon Athabascan) is the daughter of Benedict and Eliza Jones of Koyukuk, Alaska. She is the Native Language Coordinator of Yukon-Koyukuk School District, which serves ten Interior Alaska Schools. In this role, Susan teaches Denaakk’e over two-way video-conference; develops the curriculum, lessons and materials; and coordinates professional development workshops for language speakers and educators. In Fall, 2018 YKSD delivers language courses to 217 students in two languages to 23 different classrooms.  She believes there is no greater joy than watching a child having fun learning their language.

Throughout her fifteen years at Y-KSD Susan has worked with many elders, most often with her mother, Eliza Jones, to document Native place names throughout the Interior; genealogy; traditional memorial songs and stories. These hundreds of hours of recordings have led to an increase in the number of people who are able to sing their traditional songs at memorial potlatches.

Land Acknowledgments – Panel Discussion and Q&A

Friday, February 22, 2019 – 6:30 PM
Morris Thompson Center Auditorium
Free – Open to the Public

On Friday, February 22 at 6:30 pm at the Morris Thompson Center kicked off a year-long series of programs about Alaska Native languages. Denakkanaaga, Doyon Foundation, the Morris Thompson Center, Tanana Chiefs Conference Cultural Programs, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Alaska Native Language Center are collaborating on this series of free community events inspired by, but not directly affiliated with, UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019. The series will include introductions to languages, community conversations, films, and storytelling.

The kick-off event was a panel discussion of Land Acknowledgements, the practice of verbally recognizing the indigenous people of a place, as a springboard to explore the ways we encounter Alaska Native language in our daily lives and in public places – sometimes without even knowing it! The panel discussion was introduced by elder and Denakkanaaga Second Chief Anna Frank, and included speakers Walkie Charles, Hishinlai’ Peter, Judith Ramos, Ronald Brower Sr., and Allan Hayton.  View the video of the event here: