Our Ancestors' Echoes
Scholarships for Language Classes
Sealaska Heritage is funding University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) students interested in taking courses in X̱aad Kíl, Sm'algyax and Lingít through a new initiative, Our Ancestors' Echoes. Through the program SHI will also fund language teachers at UAS to provide free, non-credited language classes.
This funding will be available each semester throughout the duration of the three-year project, beginning with the spring 2023 semester and concluding with the spring 2025 semester.
Scholarship applicants must be Alaska Native, planning to take an eligible language course, and have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 as a full- or part-time student at the UAS Juneau campus. Preference will go to applicants who are majoring in a field related to language (e.g. Alaska Native Languages and Studies) and to those who are working towards a heritage language teaching or speaking certificate.
The application is only for scholarship funding; students must register for the UAS course independently. Funding for these course credits is limited; application and necessary documents should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Aug. 21, 2023. Applicants must include an unofficial transcript from their most recently attended school and documents to show tribal affiliation. Applicants will be notified via email regarding their acceptance status.
Through the same project, SHI is also offering fully-funded scholarships to students seeking a bachelor’s degree in Indigenous Studies with an emphasis in the Alaska Native Languages X̱aad Kíl (Haida), Sm’algya̱x (Tsimshian), and Lingít (Tlingit).
Tuition, room, and board will be funded each semester throughout the duration of the project, ending in Spring 2025 semester for selected applicants. The three-year initiative builds on a similar program that ended in 2022.
Through the three-year program, these selected candidates will be expected to:
- Spend four hours weekly listening to audio in their heritage language;
- Spend each year with an advanced language speaker translating and transcribing 15 minutes of archival audio;
- Attend SHI’s healing Summer Language Program each year; and,
- Obtain a bachelor's degree in Indigenous studies with an emphasis in Alaska Native Languages
Lance 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 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.
Benjamin 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.