NEWS_SHI recruits 18 scholars for Native language program

NEWS_SHI recruits 18 scholars for Native language program

Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: December 22nd, 2020

Initiative to offer full scholarship to UAS for Native language students

Aug. 19, 2020

(Meet the Scholars)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has recruited 18 Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian scholars to revitalize and perpetuate Southeast Alaska Native languages through a program at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS).

Through the initiative, Haa Yoo X̱’atángi Deiyí: Our Language Pathways, SHI and UAS are offering immersive language training for the scholars, who are committed to learning and teaching the languages.

Students will receive a full scholarship to UAS that includes tuition, room, board and other expenses plus part-time employment that provides additional language opportunities. The program will include annual summer language institutes open to language scholars, UAS students, professors and community members.

Selected students include Tlingit scholars Aidan Bowers, Anna Clock, Austin Tagaban, Frank Katasse, Herb Sheakley, Jalynn Gregory, Liana Wallace, Rochelle Smallwood, Rose Willard and Shiann Kookesh; Haida scholars Andrea Peele, Brianna Frisbee, Joseph Hillaire, Lauryn Framke, Robert Yates and Sarah Peele; and Tsimshian scholars David Lang and Victoria McKoy. The students will meet for the first time this week via Zoom.

The program is largely supported through nearly $1.9 million in funding over three years secured by SHI. Language revitalization has been a priority of SHI’s board of trustees since the 1990s, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“Our languages are the very foundation of Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures, and these scholars are doing the work to ensure our languages survive. We’ve made a lot of progress since we first began revitalizing our languages in earnest but we need to do more, and our language scholars are a key part of that,” Worl said.

The scholars will provide much needed language learning and teaching support in communities throughout the region once they complete the program, said Éedaa Heather Burge, Haa Yoo X̱ʼatángi Deiyí project coordinator and adjunct faculty member at UAS.

“Some have already been doing wonderful work within their heritage language and others are just beginning their language learning journey, but whatever stage these scholars find themselves in, as well as any current or future student interested in learning Tsimshian, Haida and Tlingit, we hope that UAS can continue be a positive part of that journey,” said Burge, an adjunct faculty member at UAS.

Participants may earn a Type M Certificate through the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development or work toward a bachelor’s degree. The initiative is one of several education programs at UAS that SHI is helping to fund. Since 2012, SHI has contributed more than $4.4 million to UAS for programming.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,



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