Alutiiq (language)

Andre Cramblit andrekar at NCIDC.ORG
Mon Aug 2 16:48:05 UTC 2004

Alutiiq language program gets federal grant

The Associated Press

KODIAK (July 30, 10:54 am ADT) - A $171,000 federal grant will help
expand a master-apprentice language program aimed at preserving the
Alutiiq language.

The money is part of $3.5 million in grants to Alaska programs announced
this week by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson during
a swing through Alaska.

The agency's Administration for Native Americans is administering the
grants, including the language preservation grant to the Alutiiq Museum
in Kodiak.

The grant to the museum will help fund a three-year Alutiiq language
revitalization project, which has a total budget of $652,380.

Alutiiq, also called Alutiitstun or Sugt'stun, is the indigenous
language of Kodiak Island and parts of the Alaska Peninsula, and
belongs to the Eskimo-Aleut family of languages.

Only about 50 people still speak the language fluently, but their
average age is over 70 years.

Leanne Hinton, a University of California Berkeley linguist, developed
the master-apprentice model for a language-preservation effort
involving 10 Native languages in California facing extinction. The
model - used in the Alutiiq program - matches participants with fluent
elders for daily lessons and practice.

The museum is accepting applications. Organizers plan to select the
participants in September and begin activities early in October. The
program requires a three-year commitment, the minimum time for an adult
to achieve fluency, said April Laktonen Counceller, the museum's
education coordinator.

After as little as one year, apprentices may be available for outreach
activity to Kodiak schools, to start bringing the language to younger
children and "grow new speakers," Counceller told the Kodiak Daily

For the past year, the program has survived mostly on local funding and
donations, with two apprentices, Counceller and Shauna Hegna, who
recently moved to Anchorage. It is one of several methods the museum is
pursuing to preserve the language.

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