On October 17, 2018 over 250 participants convened at the Performing Arts Center in downtown Dgheyaytnu-Anchorage to discuss issues facing Alaska Native languages. “Language programs that center on teaching families and communities rather than individuals help us move us towards a common goal of language revitalization,” said Melissa Shaginoff, one of the Summit’s organizers.
The theme for the gathering was Huch’itidulq’uł, a Dena’ina term meaning ‘we build a fire for our use’. The grassroots group of language advocates who organized this gathering want to see new speakers of Alaska Native languages grow through local efforts while learning from each other and motivating each other as Indigenous language advocates to move forward. They designed the sessions and presentations of the summit to address the question, “what do we as the ongoing generation of language advocates and workers need to keep the momentum moving forward?”
The summit was part of a decades long continuum of language revitalization, born from conversations at the end of the 2018 Alaska Native Language Revitalization Institute hosted at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
The event covered topics from planning education compacting between tribal governments and the State of Alaska, to local initiatives that serve as models for how language revitalization is possible through grassroots efforts. Participants were asked to engage as problem solvers, leaders, and implementers during the break out sessions.
This gathering was funded in part by a grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum, Sealaska Corporation, and the Alaska Center while over ten local Alaskan organizations provided in kind donations of refreshments, meeting materials and door prizes.