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Guangkuta litnaurlita Alutiit'stun!  Let's all study Alutiiq!

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Language Program

Scroll down to learn more about our Alutiiq Language programs and projects.

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Our Work

The Qik'rtarmiut Alutiit (Alutiiq People of the Island) language program documents and revitalizes the Kodiak Alutiiq Language.  Working together fluent Alutiiq speakers, Alutiiq language learners, and linguists study Alutiiq, make recordings, create learning materials for all ages, and teach the language to a new generation of speakers.

Photo:  An Alutiiq language lesson.
 

 

Qik Committee

The Qik'rtarmiut Alutiit Regional Language Advisory Committee meets bimonthly to guide these efforts.  This committee includes representatives from Kodiak's Native corporation, tribes, educational organizations, and communities.   To participate, please contact Language Program Manager This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 907-486-7004.

Collaborators

Many Kodiak organizations are working to preserve and share the Alutiiq Language.  The Alutiiq Museum works closely with the Native Village of Afognak, Kodiak College, and the Kodiak Island Borough School District to develop language learning resources, document Alutiiq speech, and teach the language to the next generation.

Photo:  Kathy Nelson studies Alutiiq with her mentor and friend Elder John Pestrikof of Port Lions.



 

Current  Projects

 
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Writing in the Alutiiq language is difficult and few people know how.  The Alutiiq alphabet – or orthography – is relatively new and many of the people who speak Alutiiq are just learning to use it.  Alutiiq is traditionally a spoken language, but in the modern world, many people want to write in Alutiiq.  Putting pen to paper in Kodiak’s Native language will now get a little easier, thanks to a $40,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.  With this recently awarded funding, the Alutiiq Museum will produce a guide to writing in Kodiak Alutiiq.

“This project will help us to document the Alutiiq writing system,” said the museum’s Language Program Manager April Laktonen Counceller.  “We have a group of developing speakers who have reached an intermediate level of fluency.  They are ready to work on writing and to develop learning tools for others, but the ways of writing in our language are not well known.  There have been changes since work on the Alutiiq alphabet began in the 1970s. We need a stable orthography – a set of writing standards that we can use as a community to systematize the way we put Alutiiq words on paper.”

Read more: Writing Alutiiq
 
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Find it Here!

Where can you explore Alutiiq culture and sharpen your Alutiiq vocabulary?  In the Alutiiq Word of the Week Book. Published in October 2012, this 200 page paperback brings together 15 years of the museum’s popular lessons on all things Alutiiq, with a beautiful design by Alisha Drabek, historic photos, and a helpful index.  Here’s what an Alaskan schoolteacher had to say about the publication.

Copies of the Alutiiq Word of the Week: A Fifteen Year Compilation, are available from the Alutiiq Museum Store for $22.00.  Contact Marya Halvorsen (907-486-7004, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) for assistance, or place your order on the publications section of our online store.  Produced with generous support from tthe Alaska Humanities Forum and the Kodiak Island Borough School District.

 

Growing up in Kodiak, I sought out information about the Alutiiq people, about who we are- who I was- and was disappointed in the limited resources that were available to me. Steffian, Counceller, and all of the contributors to this book have delivered an extensive collection of local knowledge . . . Using this fantastic resource will aide teachers in meeting the Alaska Cultural Standards for Educators . . . link[ing] what they are teaching to the everyday lives of the student.“

-Peggy Azuyak, Kodiak Island Borough School District
Read Peggy's Full Review

“Pukuk! I no longer have to salvage an issue of the Kodiak Daily Mirror to eagerly obtain information on the Alutiiq Word of the Week. Proudly, and avariciously I now have at my fingertips a resource inundated with elder knowledge about Kodiak’s Alutiiq culture and language, 15 years in the making.”

-Cheryl Meunier, Anchorage School District
Read Cheryl's Full Review

 

 
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At a recent meeting of the New Words Council, Alutiiq Elders passed around a tray containing ancient tools.  While Elders know the Alutiiq words for items like ulukaq (ulu knife), the names of more obscure traditional tools no longer have Alutiiq terms.  Their titles have been lost–or nearly lost to time.  With a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Service, the museum is addressing this situation.  Over the summer, Elder Alutiiq speakers recalled or crafted Alutiiq words for artifacts from the Karluk One site to create a glossary for an upcoming publication.  The collection in the museum’s largest, with many rare wooden objects.

Working with objects helped the Elders determine many items’ names.  Museum Registrar Marnie Leist shared a fishing rig to show the intricate placement of the parts that helped fishermen pull cod and halibut from Kodiak waters - the rig spreader, the shank, the hook, and the line weight. 

"Oh, I see how it works," said Elder Julie Knagin, examining the set of items designed to suspend the hook just above the ocean floor.

Read more: Kal'unek - From Karluk