Native Language Map Updated, Modernized



The Indigenous Peoples and Langues of Alaska map by the Alaska Native Language Center.

Maggie Wall/KMXT

It hadn’t been updated for 30 years, but now a new map showing Alaska Native languages has been released. "Indigenous Peoples and Languages of Alaska" is a modern version of the classic Alaska work.

If you’ve ever seen a map about Alaska’s languages, you’ve likely seen the original of this item with its swaths and broad sweeps of bright colors indicating which Native languages are spoken in various regions of the state.

While some languages are changed on the updated map, April Laktonen Counceller, the language manager at the Alutiiq Museum, says there appears to be little change for Kodiak languages.

(Language Map 1 :37 "I think the may have…or something like that.")

Maps of language groups inevitably bring up the discussion of dying languages-especially in Alaska where many Native speakers fear the total loss of their ancestral language. One argument in favor of preserving Alaska Native languages is that they encapsulate the culture from which they originate:

(Language Map 2 :37 "When you lose…with English.")

And while some people argue that languages are fluid and morph or die out over time, Laktonen Counceller says the loss of Alaska Native languages fall into a totally different category:

(Language Map 3 :34 "I get this …justice and self-determination.")

The updated language map is digitized and addition to language boundaries, the map includes more than 270 indigenous place names, including for locations around Kodiak. An interactive version of the map is due out soon.

A link to the University of Alaska Fairbanks map collection will soon be (is) on our website at


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