Sealaska Heritage



(Calendar of Events)

Haa Yoo X'atángi Deiyí: Our Language Pathway

(Scholarship Application) (Flyer)

Sealaska Heritage is offering a new program to fund Alaska Native students who want to learn their heritage language for the purpose of teaching it to others.

The program, Haa Yoo X'atángi Deiyí: Our Language Pathway, will provide full scholarships to 16 heritage language scholars enrolled at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) who are taking classes in Lingít Yoo X'atángi (Tlingit language), Xaad Kíl (Haida language), or Sm’algyax (Tsimshian language). Scholarships include room, board and tuition.

Students must enroll now at UAS for the 2020 spring semester or later for a degree program starting in the summer or fall. Students may enroll online at For help, contact the UAS Registrar’s office at 907.796.6100 or

The deadline to apply for scholarships under the language pathway program is January 6.

No experience is required to apply, and the program is open to new and current UAS students. In addition to course work, this three-year program will include part-time employment involving work in the scholars’ heritage languages and internships.

Language Lecture Series


Sealaska Heritage will sponsor a free lecture series on Indigenous language revitalization efforts, presented by scholars and professionals working in the field. The goal is to share teaching techniques more broadly and to connect language professionals working to perpetuate Native languages. 


The series will feature the following speakers:

Wednesday, Jan. 15

  • X’unei Lance Twitchell
    Shifting Value Systems: Indigenous Language Revitalization Strategies — This presentation examines the fundamental value shifts that Indigenous populations experience when their language becomes endangered. In order to bring a language back to strength, the value system of individuals, families, organizations, communities, and governments must be re-centered in the Indigenous thought world.

Monday, Feb. 3

  • William Pila Wilson and Kauanoe Kamana
    The ‘Aha Punana Leo Approach To Hawaiian Language Revitalization — The non-profit ʻAha Pūnana Leo is credited with beginning and sustaining the current Hawaiian language revitalization movement. When the movement began, full proficiency in Hawaiian was restricted to those born before 1920 and to a small population of 200 on a remote island. There were less than 50 children under 18 able to speak the language fluently. Today nearly 4,000 children are enrolled in schooling through Hawaiian and the language is the most widely reported non-English home language of children in the state. ʻAha Pūnana Leo President Kauanoe Kamanā and William Wilson will describe how the organization moved forward to reach the current level of language vitality. Included in that description will be the role of networking with other Native peoples, including Alaska Natives, in assuring programmatic success.

Wednesday, Feb. 12

  • Patrick Werito
    Engaging Schools to Support the Local Community Expectations for Language Learning — This presentation will provide an overview of how other Indigenous communities have changed their perception of language use and engaged in an approach that affirms and renews an appreciation of their language within the community.  This renewed appreciation becomes the blueprint for schools to adopt and validate the community’s expectations for language learning and help move the pendulum towards schools supporting the indigenous communities’ objectives.

Date TBD

  • Trisha Moquino
    An Intergenerational Approach to the Keres Language of Cochiti Pueblo

All lectures will begin at 5 pm in the clan house at SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building, 105 S. Seward St. in Juneau. The lectures will be videotaped and posted on SHI’s YouTube channel. Presenters will also be interviewed for a podcast which will be posted after the lectures.

Haa Shuká Community Language Learning Project

(Mentor-Apprentice Teams) (Southeast Regional Language Committee) (Blog)

Sealaska Heritage is sponsoring the Haa Shuká Community Language Learning Project, a new program designed to help revitalize the languages of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian in four Southeast Alaska communities.

Funded by a grant from the Administration for Native Americans, the program builds on SHI’s previous Tlingit language mentor-apprentice program, which ended in December 2016.

The new project pairs fluent speakers of Lingít (Tlingit), Xaad Kíl (Haida) and Sm’algyax (Tsimshian) with intermediate and advanced speakers in those languages to increase learner proficiency. Language mentor-apprentice teams will meet weekly to immerse themselves in their respective languages over the course of three years. Language learners will also enroll in language courses through the University of Alaska Southeast (enrollment will be paid by SHI) and work independently on transcriptions of language recordings and documents to build their fluency. Participating communities are Metlakatla, Hydaburg, Sitka and Juneau.

As part of this project, SHI has established a Southeast Regional Language Committee to provide guidance for the language teams and to help integrate the project with existing initiatives across the region. SHI will also work with the committee and regional groups to organize monthly language events and biannual immersion retreats in each partner community that will be open to the public. Project partners include the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, the Haayk Foundation, and Hydaburg City School District.

SHI’s Haa Shuká Community Language Learning Project is the most recent in a series of initiatives that SHI has implemented since the late 1990s to help document, preserve and revitalize Southeast Alaska Native languages. Though significant progress has been made in that time, most fluent speakers are elderly, and the need for projects such as this one remains urgent.

For more information, contact project coordinator Jill Meserve at

Next: Community Language Sessions—Tlingit conversations, 3:30-4:30 pm, Mondays, Vocational Training and Resource Center, Juneau

(Flyer) Gather together with other language learners for an hour of conversation immersed in the Tlingit language with our Haa Shuká mentor-apprentice teams and X̱’unei Lance Twitchell. Open to all levels. Everyone is welcome!

Mentor-Apprentice Teams

Juneau (Lingít)

  • Mentor—Florence Sheakley Kaakal.aat
    Moiety: Yéil
    Clan: Lukaax.ádi
    House: Geisán Hít
    Child of: Chookaneidí

  • Mary Folletti Daaljíni
    Moiety: Ch'áak'
    Clan: Kaagwaantaan
    House: Gooch Hít
    Child of: L'uknax.ádi
    Statement: I want to continue learning and teaching our language in any arena available and am grateful for this opportunity to learn side by side with a peer and from a fluent speaker.
  • Michelle Martin Keiyákwch Yawu.á
    Moiety: Yéil
    Clan: T'akdeintaan
    House: Yéil Kúdi Hít
    Child of: Chookaneidí
    Statement: The time is now to learn our native languages, which embodies who we are, making the connections to our ancestors, traditions and culture!
  • Mentor—Paul Marks Kinkaduneek
    Moiety: Yéil
    Clan: Lukaax.ádi
    House: Yéil Hít
    Child of: Chookaneidí
    Bio:  Paul learned Lingít from his parents and family. Paul also participated, as a mentor, in Sealaska Heritage’s “Bridging Challenges to Fluency through Partnerships: A Tlingit Mentor Apprentice Language Program”.
    Statement: Paul believes that it is important that we learn from our ancestors and honor them. It is most important that we learn from our ancestral true language and give honor to ancestors. When we honor our ancestors, we honor our future generations and ourselves.
  • Kyle Demientieff Worl Kaayák’w
    Moiety: Yéil
    Clan: Lukaax.ádi
    House: Yéil Hít
    Child of: Shangukeidí
    Bio: Kyle studied Anthropology and Alaska Native Studies at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Kyle co-teaches a Lingít language course at UAA with elder Shirley Kendall and coaches Native Youth Olympics in the Anchorage School District. Kyle is moving to Juneau to continue his commitment to learning and revitalizing the Lingít Language.
  • Alison Marks
    Moiety: Yéil
    Clan: Ḵ'inéix̱ Ḵwáan

Sitka (Lingít)

  • Mentor—Ethel Makinen Daasdiyáa
    Moiety: Yéil
    Clan: L’uknax.ádi
    House: L'ook Hít
    Child of: Kaagwaantaan
    Bio: Ethel has been sharing her cultural knowledge to ensure that the culture would never die. Ethel worked as a Cultural Instructor for over 20 years with the Sitka Native Education Program. Ethel helped develop many of the materials used to teach the Lingít language and was a part of a number of transcription and translation projects. Ethel has attended and presented at numerous workshops and conferences. Ethel feels fortunate to have worked with and learned from many of the elders who are no longer with us.

  • Kassandra Eubank-Littlefield Laakdu.oo
    Moiety: Ch'áak'
    Clan: Kaagwaantaan
    Child of: L’uknax.ádi
    Bio: Kassandra moved to Sitka when she was five or six years old and has been living there since. She has been studying the Lingít language with encouragement and instruction from her mother Roby Littlefield and their teacher Daasdiyáa, Ethel Makinen. Kassandra has participated in Lingít Language immersion retreats, language teacher conferences, and teaching and learning techniques. Kassandra is looking forward to this program to increase her learning and speaking abilities and to learn new ways to share with others. Kassandra has always felt enriched and encouraged after participating in language gatherings.

  • Lakrisha Brady Chookan
    Moiety: Ch’áak'
    Clan: Chookaneidí
    Child of: Kiks.ádi
    Bio: Lakrisha grew up in the Sitka Native Education Program (SNEP) and graduated in 2010. Currently, she is the Cultural Specialist at Wooch.een Preschool, a culturally-responsive preschool program that operates in collaboration with Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA), the Sitka School District, and Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Head Start. Lakrisha hopes to enrich students’ lives with Tlingit language and culture the way that the elders had done for her.

Metlakatla (Sm'algyax)

  • Mentor—Sarah Booth Goodm 'Nluułgm Xsgiik
    Clan: Eagle
    Statement: "I just feel it's really important. I've been worried about the language and I want to do as much as I can while I can to teach it. It scary because of how fast it’s disappearing."

  • David Robert Boxley Gyibaawm Laxha
    Clan: Laxgibuu
    Child of: Laxsgiik
    Statement: I want to become fluent in the language of my ancestors and be able to see the world from their point of view. Then we can pass it on to my people and help restore the rightful pride and identity that all Tsimshian should have through knowing who they are. We are reclaiming our birthright and there is nothing more important that I will ever do.

  • Kandi McGilton Mangyepsa Gyipaayg
    Clan: Ganhada
    Statement: I’m extremely grateful to Sealaska Heritage Institute for recognizing the importance of Sm’algyax; investing in our community; and holding these four communities, speakers and learners up to create a stronger, united Southeast Alaska. Lu’aam goodu nwil Daałga dm di hoksgu a hałelsa gwaa! I am happy that I can be a part of this work!

Hydaburg (Xaad Kíl)

  • Mentor—Benjamin Young
    Bio: (see below)

  • Andrea Peele Sgaan Jaat
    Moiety: Raven
    Clan: Thunderbird
    Child of:  Eagle Frog Sculpin
    Statement: For most of my adult life I have been involved with a Haida dance group from Seattle, WA.  Without knowing Xaad Kíl, I feel like I am missing out on the true meaning of what our songs, stories, history and traditions are about, let alone creating new ones.  I am very excited for this opportunity to be a part of the Haa Shuká project and the revitalization of our ancestral language.

  • Bonnie Morris
    Moiety: Eagle
    Crest: Double Headed Eagle
    Child of: Raven
    Statement: I grew up in Hydaburg and had the privilege of knowing all our great elders from Hydaburg, Alaska. Being selected to learn Xaad Kíl will be a journey in building my knowledge in my Native heritage. I am looking forward to learning and listening to the language of my ancestors.

Southeast Regional Language Committee

Lance TwitchellLance  X’unei Twitchell grew up in Skagway and now lives in Juneau. He is of Tlingit, Haida and Yup’ik heritage and carries the Tlingit names X’unei and Du Aani Kawdinook and the Haida name K’eijáakw.

Twitchell is an Associate Professor of Alaska Native Languages at the University of Alaska Southeast and has been teaching the Tlingit language since 2004. He received his Ph.D. in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization at Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo in 2018. His studies are in creating safe language acquisition spaces and achieving revitalization through counterhegemonic transformation, which means a rejection of external definitions and fragmentation and a promotion of the thought world of the ancestors of language movements. He recently completed a Tlingit language workbook based on the teachings of Richard and Nora Dauenhauer, scheduled for release through Sealaska Heritage in early 2017. His grandfather, Silas Dennis Sr. of Skagway, was his first teacher.

Gavin HudsonGavin Hudson was born and raised in Metlakatla. He graduated from college in Seattle in 1998 and moved back home in 2010. His Tsimshian name is Huk Tgini’its’ga Xsgiik and he is a member of the Laxsgiik Eagle Clan.

Hudson is one of three founders of the Haayk Foundation, along with David R. Boxley and Kandi McGilton. The nonprofit’s mission is to preserve, promote and revitalize Sm'algyax, Ayaawx (traditional Tsimshian values and protocol), Adaawx (true history), and Luulgyit (validating cultural practice) in order to cultivate a positive and healthy identity for the people of Metlakatla. Although he is not yet a fluent speaker, Hudson has logged hundreds of hours working with fluent speakers and is proficient in reading, writing, and transcription in Sm'algyax.

In 2016, as Project Coordinator for the Tsimshian Education Achievement Model grant project, Hudson helped to create the Wap Lip Algya̱g̱m House of Our Language 0-3 Years Sm'algyax Curriculum. Hudson is also a Tribal/City Councilman at Metlakatla Indian Community.

Ben YoungBenjamin Young was raised in Hydaburg and now lives in Ketchikan. His Haida name is K’uyáang. He is a Raven of the Yahgw’láanaas Clan.

Young learned X̱aad Kíl from his grandfather, Claude Morrison Kúng Skíis, a respected Haida elder who lived to the age of 100. As a teenager, Young taught his first language classes at SHI’s Latseen Leadership Academy. Through other language projects and programs, Young has worked with elders Woodrow Morrison, Alma Cook, Annie Peele, and Erma Lawrence.

Over the years he has also been influenced by linguist Dr. Jordan Lachler and Gwich'in instructor Hishinlai' Peter.

Young graduated from Butler University with a degree in secondary education and began teaching in 2014. He has had many additional roles in language revitalization such as language mentor, researcher, and curriculum developer.  Young has also served as a cultural specialist with SHI, the Xaadas Kíl Kuyaas Foundation, and the Ketchikan Indian Community, among other organizations.