Fairbanks Native Association offers Native Language and Culture Class for preschoolers

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:40 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -The Fairbanks Native Association (FNA) is hosting their successful annual Indigenous Language Program, which offers children the opportunity to learn Denaakk’e, a Koyukon Athabascan language and culture.

Lorraine David, FNA Indigenous Language Project Director describes the program. “We received a U.S. Department of Education grant in 2016, and opened the Denaakke classroom in August of 2017. We teach the Athabascan Language, Denaakke, to preschool children, ages three to five while they learn about the culture and tradition of Athabascan people.”

This will be the programs 5th year. From August to May, students will learn the fundamentals of the Denaakke Athabascan language and culture, beginning with the use of names.

“The banner behind me says denaakke hedohdege’eeh, which means “I am learning denaakk’e. We start out with children learning their names. We have to have indigenous names in the classroom. They bring their Yupik names, Inupiaq names, whatever indigenous name they have. If they don’t have an indigenous name we can give them a denaakk’e name, because we speak to each other in the language, denaakk’e,” said David.

Some of the first lessons students will learn will be making introductions, and asking for a persons name. “Every morning we ask the students that question. Then we go on to kinship, talking about families, mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, and siblings. From there we go on to animals, like moose and caribou, all those animals in interior Alaska,” said David.

Throughout the class students will learn to describe weather terms, colors, numbers, and foods. The class runs from Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Poldine Carlo building. Available spaces are limited, with 9 of the 20 available spaces already being filled. People can apply for the class at the FNA Headstart program website Here.

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