Alaska Native Language Resources
Nikaitchuat Ilisagvait Kotzebue
Started in 1998, Nikaitchuat Ilisagvait is a private language immersion preschool in Kotzebue, AK that teaches in the Inupiaq language and houses about 20 students a year. The all day program’s students are between three and five years old. Though the school would eventually like to teach in Inupiaq through the twelfth grade, it is limited by space and funding.
All Alaska State standards are implemented where appropriate. Lessons are conducted in Inupiaq and modified to be culturally appropriate, follow the seasons, and are infused with Inupiaq Ilitqusiat, traditional Inupiaq values.
Chuckchi College Kotzebue
Accessible to the Northwest Arctic region’s 11 villages and to students throughout the state, Chuckchi College enrolls around 600 students per year and offers three Inupiaq language courses:
Introduction to Inupiaq
Illisagvik College Barrow, AK
Illisagvik College offers elementary and conversational Inupiaq courses.
North Slope Borough School District Barrow
Iñupiaq as a Second Language setting with instruction occurring for a duration of anywhere from 20-30 minutes per day. Parents who live in Barrow also have the option of placing their children in the Iñupiaq Immersion Program where instruction is delivered in Iñupiaq from preschool through fourth grade and are transitioned into English with 90 minutes of instruction in the Iñupiaq language at fifth grade. Children who are in the middle school in Barrow receive instruction in the Iñupiaq language for an uninterrupted duration of 80 minutes per session alternating classes every other day. Secondary school students receive instruction as an elective.
The Ipalook Elementary school in Barrow was founded in 1972 and offers 50/50 Inupiaq-English instruction at the K3 and K4 levels, but there is no immersion program in the region per se, as there is a lack of teachers.
Alutiiq Museum Kodiak
The Alutiiq Museum and the Alaska Native Language Center are working together to create a new, expanded, multi-dialect dictionary, which will have over 6,000 entries. And, in an effort to grow the first new speakers in two generations, the Alutiiq Museum and twenty other organizations and tribal councils around the Kodiak Archipelago are working in partnership to create the Qik'rtarmiut Alutiit Program, which will pair fluent elders with adults wishing to learn Alutiiq, using the proven Master-Apprentice method of language acquisition.
Ya De Da Ah School Chickaloon
The Ya De Da Ah School is a semi-immersion, privately funded tribal school that teaches the Ahtna Athabaskan language. Elders come to the school every other week to supplement daily language instruction.
The school serves twelve children all together from pre-school to the 9th grade. There are two hours of language instruction per day and students are divided into two classes: preschool and first through ninth grade. There are three levels of proficiency, but instructors are only capable of teaching the first two: nouns and simple phrases, and conversation implementing simple phrases.
There are two fluent speakers from the Ahtna Region:
Jeanie Maxum 65
Dena’ina Language Institute Kenai
A 3-week summer language program open to anyone interested in learning and sharing Dena’ina language. Students may participate for any amount of time but must attend at least one week of class in order to receive university credit.
Dena’ina Language Resource index: http://qenaga.org/kq/index.html
UAF Kuskokwim Campus Bethel
The University of Fairbanks at Bethel offers a range of Yup’ik courses for first time and native speakers of the language. Some of those courses include but are not limited to:
Elementary Central Yup’ik Eskimo: An introduction to Central Yup’ik provides literacy and grammatical analysis and a framework for learning to speak, read, and write the language.
Conversational Central Yup’ik Eskimo: An entry-level course to learn to speak and understand Yup’ik Eskimo, focusing on communication in everyday situations.
Conversational Yup’ik I: Development of proficiency in in the Central Yup’ik language, vocabulary for everyday situations, reading, and writing.
Lower Kuskokwim School District / Central Yup’ik <Insert Phone #>
The Lower Kuskokwim School District is one of the largest school districts in Alaska, serving
Ayaprun Elitnarviat Bethel, AK (907)543-1645
The Yup’ik Immersion Program is based on the same elementary school curriculum offered in all of the district’s schools, including language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, art, and music. Ayaprun Elitnarviat is located in Bethel, AK. The school serves 168 students, grades K-6.
Kindergarten and first grade are taught totally inYup’ik, after which point English is gradually phased into the curriculum. K-2 (phases 1-6) is mainly taught in Yup’ik with oral English Language Development delivered by the durations specified below. Yup’ik is taught 75% of the time in the 3rd grade (phase 5-7), and 50% of the time in grades 4-6 (phases 6-22), so that while students learn the regular subjects, they also learn Yup’ik. English Reading and Language Arts will be taught in the 3rd grade (up to phase 7), and starting in grade 4 (phase 6 on up) English Language Arts, Reading, Health, and Math will be taught in English. All other subject matter will be taught in Yup’ik. For more details, see the section on What To Expect (and Not): Common Questions About Immersion Programs.
Length of English Language Instruction
History: In the early 1970s Killbuck Elementary had a half day “bilingual kindergarten” for parents who wanted their children taught all in Yup’ik. It arose because of parent interest and in response to the question: "How about making the afternoon class one taught in Yup’ik?" This continued for three years, but did not survive the changes in the school system. In the mid-1980s, concern among Bethel parents led to the establishment of a community committee appointed by the Bethel Advisory School Board. This committee formally requested that:
-Bethel schools improve their Yup’ik language programs
In 1990, a Bilingual Education Task Force was created to assess how the Yup’ik was being taught and made specific recommendations to strengthen the program. The Task Force presented the ASB with a formal request that a total immersion Yup’ik language program be started in Bethel. The report was accepted by the ASB but no action was taken. In 1992, a group of Kuskokwim Campus instructors, parents, and elders began meeting regularly, sharing information about how Eskimo languages are used in the schools of Russia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland.
In 1994, members of the Bethel ASB, including some who had participated
actively in the earlier work groups, introduced a formal resolution
to establish a Yup’ik immersion program in Bethel in 1995. After
much debate – and especially after a large amount of direct parental
requests of the ASB – the resolution was passed! In 1994-95-Parents
and LKSD Bilingual Department worked at getting ready for the very
In the spring of 1999-Yup’ik Immersion Steering Committee successfully
applied for Charter School Status from the Alaska Board of Education.
The focus of the application was to provide for comprehensive Yup’ik
program autonomy, consolidate under one administration and secure associated
charter grants to fund Yup’ik language material development.
Parents, teachers, and administration work collaboratively on the
Chevak Elementary School Chevak, AK (907) 858-7712
In Fall 2006 Chevak school began its first Cup'ik language immersion program in Kindergarten. The 26 kindergarten students were split into two groups, each group spending half a day immersed in Cup'ik language and the other half of the day in English. The students have very quickly picked up Cup'ik and move easily between the two classes. In 2007-2008 the Cup'ik immersion program will move to include First grade. Phillip Tulim and Paniyagaq (Kathy) Tangiegak work collaboratively to team-teach this course.
Nuniwarmiut School Mekoryuk, AK (907)827-8415
Nuniwarmiut School's Cup'ig language immersion program has about 11, K-3 enrollees. With limited personnel, the school is unable to develop the curriculum needed to advance the program beyond these grades. Though an all day program, students spend 30-45 minutes per day on ESL curriculum depending on their grade.
Hooper Bay Elementary School Hooper Bay, AK (907)758-1200
The Hooper Bay Elementary School offers a K-3, all day full Yup'ik langauge immersion program to 102 students in a school of 400. Yup'ik is used to teach all subjects through the language, but is slowly phased out after the third grade, at which point English standardized testing is implemented. The program has been in place for six years.
Lower Kuskokwim School District Bilingual Programs Bethel
Chugachmiut was awarded a grant from the United States Department of Education to improve student academic achievement through parent and local participation. Chugachmiut's Language Curriculum Development Project is designing a curriculum that reflects the communities served by Chugachmiut and implementing it in local schools. The project goal is to increase the number of Sugcestun speakers. There are an estimated 50 native speakers of the language left. Sugpiaq students receive 45 minutes of Sugcestun language instruction per day through the Chugach School District.
A Master/Apprentice project was initiated to pass on the Sugcestun language as well as skills such as drum making, beading, sewing and carving. Four communities are actively participating in the Master/Apprentice project of the seven served in the Chugach region: Tatitlek, Chenega Bay, Nanwalek, and Port Graham. The program, with twenty master speakers and sixty apprentices, is open to everyone. The Masters andApprentices meet for 10 hours per week for fifteen weeks of the year. A small stipend is extended to all of those involved and all Masters are expected to work closely with the local Education Coordinator (LEC) to meet the activity goals. The guidelines for the program are as follows:
- A respected member of the Sugpiaq community;
-A community member who is committed to become an active Sugcestun
speaker; -An individual who is committed to meet at least 10 hours
weekly with master speakers; -An individual who will be respectful
of oneself, with Master speakers and program staff; and,