UAS will host language panel on Indigenous Peoples’ Day

an Alaska Native cultural presentation
Culture Bearer Daaljíni Cruise tells Juneau second-graders a traditional Alaskan Native story during an excursion to the Walter Soboleff Building on Nov. 16, 2017. (Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

Monday is Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The University of Alaska Southeast is hosting a panel on language revitalization efforts for three Southeast Alaska Native languages, according to UAS Lingít professor X’unei Lance Twitchell. It starts at 3 p.m.

“One of the most Indigenous things is the language that was born on this land, and that was maintained and allowed ancestors to survive, and was a gift to us to give to future generations,” Twitchell said.

Often, the discussion of language serves as both a celebration of Indigenous identity and a reflection on harm done to Native languages, he said. 

“As we talked about language revitalization,we’re also looking at some of the most damaging elements of colonization, and attempted genocide,” Twitchell said. 

The featured speakers are Jaskwaan from the Haida language community, Daaljíni from the Lingít language community and Alex Roehl from the Juneau Sm’algyax learners group.

“What’s exciting as these are growing language movements, and so there’s multiple people to pick from,” Twitchell said. “They’ll just share their perspectives on what’s happening and what’s shifting.”

The speakers will give updates on the current status of language revitalization for all three languages, as well as what they think the future of the languages looks like. 

The discussion can be joined via Zoom here.

Also on Monday, Sealaska Heritage Institute is offering free admission to the Shuká Hít clan house and Juried Art Show exhibit for Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

In 2015, Alaska was the second state to designate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday of October to replace Columbus Day, after South Dakota. In 2021, the day was recognized nationwide by the Biden administration.

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