Alaska Native Language Center

The Alaska Native Language Center (ANLC) was established in 1972 by the state of Alaska "to study native Alaskan languages, develop literacy materials, assist in the translation of important documents, provide for the development and dissemination of Alaska Native literature, and train Alaska Native language speakers to work as teachers and aides in bilingual classrooms" (AS 14.40.117). The Language Center has since become the preeminent institution for the study of the 20 Athapaskan, Eskimo, Aleut, Eyak, Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Haida languages in Alaska. Michael Krauss was instrumental in the founding of ANLC, and acted as its director from its inception in 1972 until his retirement in 2000, when the current director, Lawrence Kaplan, took over. Prominent linguists have worked in association with ANLC over the past 29 years. Many Alaska Natives have contributed greatly by authoring texts and narratives, and through various teaching roles.

ANLC houses an exhaustive archival collection of original source material and other documents in or relating to Native Alaskan languages. The archives contain over 12,000 documents and 4000 recordings, ranging from 18th-century exploration documents, 19th-century ethnohistorical works, to modern teaching texts. Plans are underway to make a catalog of these works available on the Internet.

Language preservation and maintenance are major concerns of ANLC; Alaskan Native language vitality currently ranges from Central Yup'ik with c.10,000 speakers to Eyak with one native speaker remaining. ANLC has striven to document many languages in danger of extinction in order to promote public awareness of language loss. Patrick Marlow currently directs a program to train Athapaskan language teachers.

Publishing is an important aspect of ANLC's operation, and their output includes Native language dictionaries, grammars, texts, and teaching materials. Publications include the Koyukon Athabaskan Dictionary (2000) by Eliza Jones and Jules Jette, and the Yup'ik Eskimo Dictionary (1984) compiled by S.A.

Jacobson. Other publications include traditional stories, literacy workbooks, reading and writing drills, coloring books, historical accounts by Native elders, Native language novels, and conversation lessons. An important facet of dissemination includes an extensive collection of oral narratives and oral literature in tape formats.

ANLC is part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which offers a Baccalaureate Degree in Yup'ik and Inupiaq, and an Associate Degree in Native Language Education for Athapaskan and Inupiaq. Many graduates have gone on to take leadership roles in the state of Alaska.

A number of influential linguistic scholars have been associated with ANLC. Michael Krauss and James Kari are professors emeriti with long distinguished careers in linguistics. Anna Berge, Gary Holton, Steven Jacobson, Lawrence Kaplan, Jeff Leer, and Patrick Marlow are current faculty at the center. Native language specialists, including Native Elders, and researchers who are or who have been associated with ANLC include Lillian Garnett, Eliza Jones, Peter Kalifornsky, Shem Pete, Katherine Peter, Kathy Sikorski, and Lorena Williams. Other prominent ANLC researchers from outside institutions include the late Knut Bergsland from the University of Oslo and John Ritter, Director of the Yukon Native Language Centre.

Ben A. Potter

See also Athapaskan; Eskimo-Aleut Languages; Inupiat; Northern Athapaskan Languages; Yukon Native Language Centre

Further Reading

Alaska Native Language Center website: anlc/

Damas, David (editor), Handbook of the North American Indians, Volume 5, Arctic, Washington, District of Columbia: Smithsonian Institution, 1984 Fortescue, Michael, Steven Jacobson & Lawrence Kaplan, Comparative Eskimo Dictionary with Aleut Cognates, Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center, 1994 Goddard, Ives, Handbook of the North American Indians, Volume 17, Languages, Washington, District of Columbia: Smithsonian Institution, 1996 Helm, June (editor), Handbook of the North American Indians, Volume 6, Subarctic, Washington, District of Columbia: Smithsonian Institution, 1981 Jones, Eliza & Jules Jette, Koyukon Athabaskan Dictionary,

Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center, 2000 Krauss, Michael, Alaska Native Languages: Past, Present, and Future, Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center, 1980

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