"Speak Alutiiq. Speak Alutiiq that's what I like.”

Mary Haakanson Alutiiq Elder

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Alutiiq Museum Qik'rtarmiut Alutiit (Alutiiq People of the Island) Language Program

Kodiak, Alaska

imgAt the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak, Alaska, fluent tribal elders have been working with second language learners, or apprentices, for over a decade to document and revitalize the Alutiiq language. Guiding the program, the Qik’rtarmiut Alutiit Regional Language Advisory Committee was formed in 2003 as a grassroots group made up of elders and representatives from island-wide tribes and organizations to help with language revitalization throughout Kodiak Island.

The Language Program regularly sends out the “Alutiiq Word of the Week”—an email broadcast featuring links to audio files and cultural lessons which is also published in the local newspaper and broadcast on public radio. The work of the New Words Council (see our Did You Know section above) is showcased on the museum’s Alutiiq Living Words Project Web Portal, with an interactive place names map, field recordings, and a downloadable list of terms, including new words for things like acupuncture, car wash, and x-ray machine.

The museum’s language program also organizes the local Alutiiq Language Club that has met since 2003, and partners with the Native Village of Afognak and other local tribes and organizations to help develop curricular materials for their active and growing range of language education opportunities and activities for youth and learners of all ages.

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Did You Know ...

How do language revitalization programs incorporate new words into their languages? At the Alutiiq Museum, members of the New Words Council, or the Nuta’at Niugnelistet (New Word Makers) meet regularly to create words for concepts that didn’t exist when the fluent elders were young. Some of the new words are akirsurwik for ATM, amam puumpaa'a for breast pump, and cukasqaq kaliqaq, literally ‘fast paper,’ for email. The council was inspired by the Native Hawaiians’ Lexicon Committee, and works to make Alutiiq viable in the modern age.

Other Language Programs

Explore more Native American communities and their tribal language programs by clicking on the links below.

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