Sealaska Language Priorities Reflected in Seven Recent Grants
Monday, April 18, 2022

Sealaska’s board of directors approved $558,000 in funding for language preservation programs at a meeting held on April 8, pledging grants to seven different language preservation and language learning projects.  

Sealaska shareholders consistently rank language preservation and revitalization as a top priority, an urgency shared by Sealaska leadership 

“Fostering our Indigenous languages, building them up and growing the number of fluent speakers is a critical priority for Sealaska,” said Sealaska Community Outreach and Brand Manager Tasha Heumann. “Supporting the efforts of advanced language learners toward fluency is of the utmost importance and that’s the goal of this program. We are deeply grateful for the language champions and their support systems — those who are devoted to learning and teaching our languages — for their applications, dedication and the gift of their time.” 

Language grants were awarded to Goldbelt Heritage Foundation, the Ketchikan Indian Community, Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Xaadas Kíl Kuyaas Foundation (XKKF), Haa Tóo Yéi Yatee, the Juneau School District and the X̱ántsii Navay Haida Immersion Preschool. The proposals submitted by these organizations aligned with Sealaska’s commitment to advancing the proficiency of advanced language learners. 

Plans to facilitate collaboration, healing and fluency gains of Lingít language educators and birth speakers through professional development and social immersion opportunities, as well as documentation of birth speakers.

Will continue their work with Lingít, X̱aad Kíl and Sm’algyax, developing curriculum and materials to advance language proficiency.  

Their grant proposal aims to advance fluency in all three Southeast Alaska Indigenous languages and increase resources for learners by adding three part-time positions for mid- to advanced-level learners and to developing audio/visual documentary resources. 

Plans to increase the number of adults in the program who are proficient/fluent in X̱aad Kíl from one to five by May 2022; secure sustainable funding for antsii Náay Haida Immersion Preschool; and help normalize Xaad Kíl in Hydaburg. 

Plans to host four annual Lingít language and culture immersion camps, reinforcing the use of language on the land. Haa Tóo Yéi Yatee is aiming for language transfer of knowledge from Elders to language learners, increasing the usage and level of fluency for all. 

Will fund the creation of a half-time, certified Lingít language and culture teaching position at Sítʼ Eetí Shaanáx̱ Glacier Valley Elementary to begin in the fall.  

The grants were made from the $10 million Language Revitalization Fund established by Sealaska in 2019, which focuses on the revitalization of Lingít, X̱aad Kíl and Sm’algya̠x. The fund is anticipated to generate approximately $500,000 in grants annually to invigorate indigenous languages. Aiming to increase the number of advanced speakers — especially targeting those who serve as teachers — Sealaska hopes to create a revitalization program that is successful, sustained and celebrated by the community.  

For any questions regarding this program, please contact Tasha Heumann at tasha.heumann@sealaska.com 


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