Word of the week: woosh kaanáxh gaxhtuda.aat - let us gather together
This week marks the beginning of Wooshteen Kanaxhtulaneegí Haa At Wuskóowu (Sharing Our Knowledge): A Conference of Tlingit Tribes and Clans, which runs from March 29-April 1 in Sitka. The conference began in 1993 as a way to gather culture-bearers, Tlingit speakers, learners, scholars and interested parties to reaffirm the customs and traditions of the Alaska Tlingit and Kaiganii Haida clans. Since that time, it has become a unique multi-disciplinary conference that includes those interested in Native culture — artists, academics, students and other learners — meeting with Alaska Native tradition bearers, elders, and fluent speakers to discuss subjects such as linguistics, archaeology, art and music, Alaska Native history, cultural anthropology, indigenous law and protocols, fisheries and traditional ecological knowledge.
The Conference of Tlingit Tribes and Clans is an important event in Southeast Alaska, and in addition to a multitude of presentations, discussions, and cultural events, this year’s conference will feature a Lingít Yoo Xh’atángi Eetí Ká: Tlingit Language Immersion Room. This room is dedicated to speakers and learners of Tlingit, and anyone else who wants to hear this beautiful and complex language.
Tlingit is extremely endangered, with an estimated 200 speakers remaining and a small but dedicated group of learners who are doing their best to make sure the language not only survives, but thrives and carries critical knowledge and relationships on to future generations. Fittingly, the theme of this year’s conference is Haa Eetí Kháa Yís: For Those Who Come After Us.
The University of Alaska Southeast is committed to indigenous language revival, and invites you to attend this year’s Conference of Tlingit Tribes and Clans. If you can volunteer your time, help is needed. If you cannot make it, the conference will be available to view online. In addition, UAS will be offering a full schedule of language courses this fall, and we hope to see you at the conference and in the classroom thinking about what it means to keep a language from dying.
For more information on the conference, visit ankn.uaf.edu/ClanConference2/course/view.php?id=4
• Xh’unei Lance A. Twitchell is an assistant professor of Alaska Native languages at UAS.