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SHI chooses mentor-apprentice teams to revitalize Tlingit language

Posted: January 23, 2014 - 12:02am

Sealaska Heritage Institute has chosen six teams of Tlingit speakers and students who will hone their skills over the next three years in an effort to revitalize the Tlingit language.

SHI chose mentor-apprentice teams in Sitka, Yakutat and Juneau and will train them on mentor-apprentice language methods and strategies later this month. The institute made Native language revitalization a priority in the 1990s and has cultivated a number of students, but it’s time to intensify that effort, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“We’re very fortunate in that we have many language learners. We have many, but we need more. And, we’ve known that we need to bring them to their next level of Tlingit language fluency. This is something that they’ve been telling us and they’ve been wanting,” said Worl, adding there is only about 200 Tlingit speakers left and most of them are elderly.

In Sitka, fluent Tlingit speaker-mentor Ethel Makinen will pair with apprentice Duane Lindoff, and mentor Anne Johnson will teach Jamie Bradley. SHI will partner with Sitka Tribes of Alaska and work with community liaisons Tristan Guevin and Heather Powell. In Yakutat, mentor Lena Farkas will pair with apprentice Jaclyn Milton, and mentor Nellie Lord will teach student Devlin Anderstrom. SHI will partner with the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe and work with community liaison Amanda Porter. In Juneau, mentor Selena Everson will teach Hans and Jessica Chester, and mentor Paul Marks will teach apprentices Ishmael Hope and Joshua Jackson. Marsha Hotch will serve as community liaison.

SHI will sponsor an orientation and training workshop in Juneau from 8am-4:30, Jan. 24-26, Sealaska boardroom, 4th floor. The class, “Mentor-Apprentice Language Methods and Strategies,” will be taught by Phil Albers, a language teacher who has played a crucial role in revitalizing his Native tongue, Karuk, in Northern California. The mentor-apprentice program, “Bridging Challenges to Fluency through Partnerships: A Tlingit Mentor-Apprentice Language Program,” is funded through a grant from the Administration for Children and Families—ANA, Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance.

Sealaska Heritage Institute was founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.

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