News: Alaska's Doyon Region Receives Grant to Help Save Native Languages

September 26, 2016 Natalie Williams

Doyon is one of Alaska's regional corporation and runs more than a dozen companiess. The 12.5 million acres of land in Alaska's interior they own is home to 10 ancestral languages, including nine Athabascan languages plus Inupiaq, and represents half of the 20 Native languages spoken in the state of Alaska.

According to the Doyon Foundation, all of the Doyon region languages are severely to critically endangered and will be lost within the span of a few generations if no action is taken. The loss is attributed to the rapidly decreasing health of fluent Native language speakers which prevents the languages from being passed on quickly enough to ensure their survival.

In 2009, the Doyon Foundation, with support from Doyon, Limited, established a language revitalization program to ensure the cultures and languages of the Doyon region are taught, documented and easily accessible.

$900,000 Language Grant

gpi-alaska language grant-map


Early in September 2016, the language revitalization program received great news when the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) announced that the Doyon Foundation was selected to receive a Native American Language Reservation and Maintenance grant of $900,000 over a three-year period.

The grant will help fund the Doyon Languages Online project, a partnership with 7000 Languages, which is a non-profit organization that makes leading technology available to language teams working with lesser-known and under-resourced languages.

While the Foundation aims to create online courses for all the Doyon region languages over time, during the three-year grant project, 280 introductory online lessons will be created for five of the Doyon languages: Holikachuk, Denaakk'e, Benhti Kenaga', Hän, and Dinjii Zhuh K'yaa.

Doris Miller, Foundation Executive Director said: "As Native people, our languages are part of our identity and are very precious to us. Our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren deserve to have the opportunity to learn their language."

Image: Doyon Region Languages. Source:

To read more, please see: The Doyon Foundation Receives $900,000 Grant for Language Revitalization.

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About the Author

Natalie Williams

Natalie was born and raised in Montana where she graduated from The University of Montana with a degree in Business Administration. Her international experience includes two summer programs, one at The European Business School in Germany and the other at The University of Brescia in Italy. She studied a variety of global business subjects including international business, trade, culture and language. Key projects for her undergrad studies included meeting with executives from large corporations such as Lufthansa, Opel and The European Central Bank as well as working with the design team on the marketing plan for the 2015 World Fair in Milan, Italy. She has a range of global event management experience including organization of the Annual Mansfield Conference on the Middle East and the China Town Hall meeting series. Her hobbies include beading, yoga, cooking, reading, being outdoors and traveling.

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