Kodiak High School Adding Alutiiq Language Class

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Jacob Resneck/KMXT

Kodiak High School is adding an Alutiiq language class next month. The initiative follows a decade’s worth of groundwork as well as interest expressed by a group of students.

KMXT’s Jacob Resneck reports.

(Correction: The first version of this story incorrectly reported that the Alutiiq language had not been taught in Kodiak public schools since the 1990s. The Kodiak Island Borough School District has had a weekly Alutiiq language class delivered by satellite to village schools for the past six years. That instruction is provided by the Alutiiq Museum’s Language Program.)

In October a group of Kodiak High School students attended the annual Alaska Federation of Natives conference where forum speakers spoke of the importance of preserving the native tongues of Alaska Natives.

Kodiak Area Native Association’s youth leadership coordinator Candace Branson says the students were inspired.

— branson1 AND branson2

Branson will be one of two teachers in the class. She’s also enlisted the help of Alisha Drabek who has been studying Alutiiq for years.

Drabek says the language is only spoken by Elders and is excited by young people’s interest.

— drabek4

Alutiiq is closely related to Yup’ik which is still widely spoken throughout western Alaska. But there are differences that they are trying to preserve, Drabek says.

— drabek3

The class will be taught four days a week, starting next month. Branson says they are trying to keep the class size limited, then see how it goes.

— branson3

Drabek notes that funding has been secured through grants. Perhaps most importantly, the initiative brings together a rare nexus of student interest, grant funding and school district support.

— drabek1

So far most of the students to sign up have been Alaska Native but Drabek stresses that the class is open to all high school students.

I’m Jacob Resneck

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