BBNC offers free online Yup’ik, Alutiiq and Dena’ina classes to make language learning accessible

Kenneth Palmer

The Bristol Bay Indigenous Company is supplying no cost Dena’ina and Yugtun, or Yup’ik, on line language classes by way of early February. Sugt’stun/Alutiiq courses ended previously this month.

The Zoom classes are 30 minutes, once a week and are open to any individual. These classes deal with some of the fundamentals, like introductions. People today can also choose music and dance lessons.

Atkiq Michelle Ilutsik-Snyder, a single of the lecturers, claimed the lessons are significant for the reason that each individual language displays a unique society and worldview.

“Language is so linked to id — that favourable perception of id for folks,” she claimed. “And the language seriously reflects the spots that we occur from and our ancestors.”

The class sequence began at the starting of this month, with these courses. Ilutsik-Snyder, who’s from Dillingham and Aleknagik, reported they ended up properly-attended, with 35 individual logins — a sign of the drive to learn the language.

“We had some educational facilities and school rooms signing up for us,” she said. “We experienced some people just wanting to study a minimal little bit of Yup’ik who aren’t from the region but stay in Alaska and kind of want to respect the places that they’re at and find out a little little bit of the language. We’ve listened to too from these that perhaps grew up listening to the language and can it’s possible understand or have a tiny bit of that history, but aren’t capable to keep full discussions.”

She claimed that whilst virtual lessons can be a challenge, they are a way for people to each learn and practice with some others across the condition. And which is critical to furnishing people with accessibility to the language and a help network for finding out it.

“It’s been this kind of a wrestle for me to learn Yup’ik,” she explained. “I truly feel like the pupils in our area must be equipped to study in the language of the area, and need to have that prospect to increase up hearing the language. It should not require all those of us to find out our heritage language, the language of the areas that we grew up, to devote $800 plus bucks to get a college class to master our individual language.”

Ilutsik-Snyder mentioned the lessons are just the commencing, and revitalization needs to be a group hard work.

“From universities, community, diverse regional entities, local entities to actually revitalize and say, ‘Our languages are critical. And our learners must be able to understand in the language of the place and in their heritage language,’” she said.

Ilutsik-Snyder hopes that immediately after this course sequence finishes, the momentum to study Yup’ik carries on.

But language isn’t the only element of the Indigenous corporation’s initiative. Yup’ik dancing and singing lessons are out there as effectively.

Margie and Aaron Frost educate yuraq, or Yup’ik dancing, virtually from Togiak. They each attended the College of Alaska Fairbanks. That is where Aaron 1st began to observe yuraq.

“When I to start with observed it, I immediately fell in enjoy with it,” he explained. “And I started out to dance and bought to know the music and started out to sing. And I imagined I was loud right up until I sat subsequent to any individual from the North Slope spot. And he was loud. And he confirmed me where to sing from. And that just kind of trapped with me.”

Margie is from Bethel, in which yuraq performs a huge position in the community. But though she was uncovered to it through her life, she was only a spectator till she commenced lessons as a university pupil back again in the 90s and joined the Inu-Yupiaq dance team.

“That’s in which my like for yuraq seriously grew as far as me dancing, ‘cause I have normally liked it. I just never ever participated,” she mentioned. “But after taking Theresa John’s course, that’s when I came out of my shell and I just started off dancing and then Inu-Yupiaq just exploded my enjoy for yuraq and sharing it.”

Margie stated that interest in yuraq across Bristol Bay has waxed and waned.

“But it appeared like in the previous 12 months I have observed a expansion and now I even hear about Manokotak dancing, which is definitely interesting,” she said.

Margie reported Zoom has served dance groups and college students in diverse communities connect – a silver lining of pressured separation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The magnificence of Zoom is that it’s nonetheless type of slow below. But going to the [Bristol Bay] Youth Management Forum and seeing all people superior schoolers how enthusiastic they ended up, that just gave us far more inspiration to maintain likely. So that’s why we are nonetheless training,” she stated. “And I consider, through Zoom, we are achieving much more folks. And it truly is enabling us to keep going.”

The final yuraq course is Jan. 25. Language classes are free and choose put each week by early February. Obtain information about the Yugtun classes listed here and the Dena’ina classes listed here.

Get in touch with the author at [email protected] or 907-842-2200.

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