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Dena'ina Language Institute returns to KPC

Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2005

KPC/UAA anthropology student Brett Encelewski said he is passionate about his Alaska Native heritage; especially the re-vitalization of the Dena'ina language. Currently Encelewski is the archivist for the Kenaitze Indian Tribe's Culture and Education department, an intern and lab assistant in the anthropology department at the college and a journalism student. The following information about the annual Dena'ina Language Institute was provided by him.

"Dena'ina qenaga hunuhdulzex, "The people's language is coming back." This is a phrase in the Dena'ina Athabascan language coined by Professor Emeritus Dr. James Kari of the University of Alaska Fairbanks — Alaska Native Language Center, to proclaim the efforts of the Dena'ina people to revitalize their language and culture. The Dena'ina Language Institute, Dena'ina Qenaga Duch'deldih, and the Dena'ina Festival have become an annual and central vehicle of that goal.

The third annual DLI will commence at Kenai Peninsula College on May 30. Elder mentors, curriculum developers, linguists, anthropologists and language learners will gather to speak in the native tongue of the Kenai Peninsula and the Cook Inlet region.

The Dena'ina Language Institute is a three week language program open to anyone interested in learning and sharing the Dena'ina language. According to the ANLC, the program is offered in partnership and collaboration with many agencies and entities.

According the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, Dena'ina language revitalization has been enhanced by the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the Tribe, ANLC, Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC), and UAA/Kenai Peninsula College. The agreement outlines terms of cooperation and collaboration between the participant institutions because the institutions realized that each of them was being awarded separate grants to work on the same thing — the Dena'ina language. In addition to the agreement, regular teleconferences have been conducted by ANHC with representatives from each of the institutions as well as with the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service.

"It is not something we planned," said Sasha Lindgren, Culture and Education director for the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, "We were awarded our grant and were pleased to find out that our friends received similar grants, it was meant to be."

According to the ANLC Web site this year's course offerings are:

ANL 121 to 122: Beginning Conversational Dena'ina for three credits.

ANL 221: Advanced Conversational Dena'ina for three credits.

ANL 199: Practicum in Native Language Education for three credits.

ANL 287: Teaching Methods for Alaska Native Languages for three credits.

ANL 288: Curriculum and Materials Development for Alaska Native Languages and is three credits.

Short courses include:

ANL 108: Beginning Athabascan Literacy for one to three credits.

ANL 295: Technology for Alaska Native Languages for one credit.

Anyone interested in more information on these courses can access the UAF catalog online at: Last year's DLI hosted approximately 50 language learners and speakers from across the Dena'ina region.

The DLI will run May 30 though June 17 and classes will meet Monday through Friday with two time slots: 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m.

There will be several excursions and activities to accompany the academics. According to the ANLC, there will be a visit and afternoon tea June 4 at the Pratt Museum in Homer. Also planned are interpretive visits to historic Kalifornsky Village and to the Shlakaq' Dena'ina site near the KPC campus led by Dr. Alan Boraas. There also will be an evening of storytelling and craft activities. The third annual Dena'ina Festival will be held June 10 to 12 in conjunction with the Institute.

Lodging will be available for approximately $450 per week, including three meals per day at the Alaska Christian College (ACC) campus adjacent to the KPC campus. Visit the ACC Web site at

Tuition and fees have been reduced from a general University of Alaska Fairbanks rate to $45 per course. In addition to traditional financial aid options, a range of other financial assistance is available for this program. Lodging costs at ACC are covered for sponsored students. Dena'ina speakers wishing to attend the Institute are offered transportation, room and board free of charge.

To be eligible for financial support as a sponsored student, applicants need to be degree-seeking students enrolled in a university degree program that relates to Dena'ina language. In addition, students are required to be sponsored by either a school district or tribal organization. These sponsors are required to contribute $500 toward the cost of the Institute on the behalf of the student. However, ANLC offers no additional costs for sponsored students. Sponsored students will also be eligible for support throughout the 2004-05 academic years in the form of tuition and travel to additional language workshops in the Dena'ina region."

For more information, call the Alaska Native Language Center at 907-474-7874 or e mail at

2005 Commencement

The commencement ceremony will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium. The public is invited to attend.

KPC student, Matt Gravelle, will play piano and will be joined by the Kenaitze Tribal Drummers, Chudakuya, during the ceremony. Sign language during the ceremony will be provided by Arlyann Minogue, American Sign Language instructor at the college.

This column is provided by Suzie Kendrick, community relations coordinator at Kenai Peninsula College.

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