Sealaska Heritage



Haa Yoo X̱'atángi Deiyí: Our Language Pathway

(Meet the Scholars) (Press Release)

Sealaska Heritage is offering a 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 X̱'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 X̱'atángi (Tlingit language), X̱aad Kíl (Haida language), or Sm’algya̱x (Tsimshian language). The scholarships include tuition, room, board and other expenses plus part-time employment that provides additional language opportunities...(more

Meet the Scholars


Aidan Bowers

Tlingit Name: Kuchein
English Name: Aidan Bowers
Hometown: Juneau AK
Studying:  Lingít

“I am looking forward to finding ways to bring our languages from our classrooms into our homes.”

Austin Tagaban

Name: Naawéiyaa Austin Tagaban
Tlingit born and raised in Juneau
Studying: Lingít

“I love learning our language because it feels like I understand our culture and relationship to the land more deeply as I continue to learn.”

Frank Katasse

Tlingit Name: Kaash
English Name: Frank Henry Katasse
Home Town: Douglas, AK
Studying: Lingít

“After working with the amazing teachers and staff of the Tlingit Culture Language Literacy (TCLL) program, I was inspired to return to school to study the Lingít language, as well as how to teach it to others.”

Herb Sheakley

Tlingit Name: Kaax̲ Tséen
English Name: Herb Sheakley Jr
Hometown Xunaa Ḵáawu
Studying: Lingít

“So far I feel that just being in this program and school I have had way more time to dedicate to learning and living Tlingit language and culture. I know where I want this to lead for me, and I want to help others learn more, help give them a boost to want to learn however I can. There’s so much we don’t know, and only a lifetime to learn. I want to help teach anyone willing to dedicate any time to Tlingit language or culture in Tlingit art. I have so much more to learn before I get there, but my sights are set on that short-term goal.”

Jalynn Gregory

Tlingit Name: Kaasgiteen
English Name: Jalynn Gregory
Raised in Juneau
Studying: Lingít

“I’m thrilled to be a part of this program, to be a part the revitalization of our languages. I’m excited to learn now so I can teach my future children to be Lingít speakers from birth.”

Liana Wallace

Tlingit Name: Aakw’ Ta’
English Name: Liana Wallace
Residing in Juneau
Studying: Lingít

“I want to put our language back out upon the land and sea. To be someone who my elders can talk to and to sing and talk to the ancestors from directions that travel forever.”

Rochelle Smallwood

Tlingit Name: Yeeskanaalx Tláa
English Name: Rochelle Smallwood
Hometown: Juneau, AK
Studying: Lingít

“I am excited to work with the elders and to have my whole household speaking in Tlingit.“

Rose Willard

Tlingit Name:
English Name: Rose Willard 
Home: Juneau
Studying: Lingít

“As a cultural specialist in elementary schools, I am excited to study the Lingít language with the hopes of bringing more language and fluency into the classrooms. Being in this program has been a great opportunity to connect with other language learners and teachers as we work towards making Lingít language learning the focus for our youth and future generations.”

Shiann Kookesh

Tlingit Name: Lux shàa doo stí
English Name: Shiann Kookesh
Hometown is Angoon AK
Currently residing in Angoon.
Studying: Lingít

“I’m ecstatic to be a Haa Yoo X̱ʼatángi Deiyí selected scholar! I’m really looking forward to digging deeper into the Tlingit language.”

Anna Clock (no photo or bio)


Andrea Peele

Sg̱áan Jáat hín uu díi X̱aad kihl kya'áang.
Andrea Peele hín uu díi Yáats’ Xaat’áay kihl kya'áang.
Higdáa G̱ándlaay eehl uu Hl náagang.
X̱aad kíl Hl sḵ'at'áang.

My Haida name is Sg̱áan Jáat.
My English name is Andrea Peele.
I live in Hydaburg.
I am learning Haida.

“I am most excited because my dream of having our babies speaking X̱aad Kíl as their first language is becoming more of a reality.”

Brianna Frisbee

Name: Brianna Frisby
Hydaburg is where my family is from
Juneau is my home community and current
Studying: X̱aad Kil

“My goal is to learn Haida and have it spoken as much as, if not more than, English in my household. I’m excited to start this program because it’s the first towards reaching my goal.”

Joseph Hillaire

Haida name: Nang Sk'at'aas
English name: Joseph Hillaire Jr
Studying: X̱aad Kil

"Composing songs in X̱aad Kil is one reason I am excited about this opportunity because I sense the love and joy when Haida songs are created and shared."

Lauryn Framke

English name: Lauryn Framke
Home community: Craig and Juneau
Studying: X̱aad Kil

“I am excited for this program because I have loved learning X̱aad Kil for the past four years, and I'm very excited to continue learning it and becoming a language teacher through this program!”

Robert Yates

Dag júus (Rob Yates)
K'_áaws Tláaysd uu Hl íijang. I am from Craig.
X̱aad kíl Hl sk'_at'áang. I am learning Haida.
“Kíilang sk'_at'géik uu kílganggang. X̱aad kíl Hl sk'_at'áasaang. G_ahl díi gudangáay 'láa áwyaagang.
Sealaska Heritage Institute, daláng an Hl kíl 'láa áwyaagang. Ja háw'aa'uu!”

“It is important to learn your language. I will learn (more) Haida. I am very happy about it. Sealaska Heritage Institute, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Sarah Peele

English name: Sarah Peele
Hometown: Hydaburg, AK
Studying: X̱aad Kil

“I am excited that this opportunity is not only for me; it will give me the knowledge and resources to share with future language learners.“



David Lang

Tsimshian name: Huk Yuunsk
English name: David Roger Lang
Hometown: Juneau
Language: Sm’algya̱̱x

“I am excited to be a part of this program because language study has opened up a new world of understanding to me in regards to my culture and myself. Core values and important points are part of even the most common phrases, communicating that what is in our heart and how we carry our names are important to our everyday way of life.”

Victoria McKoy

Tsimshian name: Ggoadm 'Deebn (Heart of a Sea Lion)
English name: Victoria Mckoy
Hometown: Ketchikan, AK
Language: Shm'algyack

“Ama sha, tcka’ne gyad. Lu’kwil n’doyackshin for this opportunity. I’m excited to learn more of my traditional language of Shm’algyack. It is my dream that we use our indigenous languages in every aspect of life. Passing our language and our culture down to future generations.”


For more info about this program, contact or 907-586-9264. 

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.

Thursday, Jan. 30

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

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.


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.​

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.