ANCSA Regional and Language Map
Tlingit (Łingít) is the language of coastal Southeastern Alaska from Yakutat south to Ketchikan. The total Tlingit population in Alaska is about 10,000 in 16 communities with about 500 speakers of the language. Tlingit is one branch of the Athabascan-Eyak-Tlingit language family. A practical writing system was developed in the 1960s, and linguists such as Constance Naish, Gillian Story, Richard and Nora Dauenhauer, and Jeff Leer have documented the language through a number of publications, including a verb dictionary, a noun dictionary, and a collection of ancient legends and traditional stories by Tlingit elder Elizabeth Nyman. Links
Eyak was spoken in the 19th century from Yakutat along the southcentral Alaska coast to Eyak at the Copper River delta, but by the 20th century only at Eyak. It is now represented by about 50 people but no surviving fluent speakers. The last remaining native speaker of Eyak died in 2008.
Alutiiq (Sugpiaq, Sugcestun) is a Pacific Gulf variety of Yupik Eskimo spoken in two dialects from the Alaska Peninsula to Prince William Sound, including Kodiak Island. Of a total population of about 3,000 Alutiiq people, about 400 still speak the language.
Unangax (Aleut) is one branch of the Eskimo-Aleut language family. Its territory in Alaska encompasses the Aleutian Islands, the Pribilof Islands, and the Alaska Peninsula west of Stepovak Bay.
Central Alaskan Yup’ik is the largest of the state’s Native languages, both in the size of its population and the number of speakers. Of a total population of about 21,000 people, about 10,000 are speakers of the language. Children still grow up speaking Yup’ik as their first language in 17 of 68 Yup’ik villages, those mainly located on the lower Kuskokwim River, on Nelson Island, and along the coast between the Kuskokwim River and Nelson Island. The main dialect is General Central Yup’ik, and the other four dialects are Norton Sound, Hooper Bay-Chevak, Nunivak, and Egegik.
Dena’ina (Tanaina), the Athabascan language of the Cook Inlet area, has four dialects — on the Kenai Peninsula, in Upper Inlet area above Anchorage, and in coastal and inland areas on the west side of Cook Inlet. Dena’ina is the only Alaska Athabascan language to be spoken in a coastal environment, and it is the only Alaska Athabascan language spoken on both sides of the Alaska Range.
Ahtna Athabascan is the language of the Copper River and the upper Susitna and Nenana drainages in eight communities. The total population is about is about 500 with perhaps 80 speakers.
Upper Tanana Athabascan is spoken mainly in the Alaska villages of Northway, Tetlin, and Tok, but has a small population also across the border in Canada. The indigenous name for the language is Nee’aaneegn’. During the 1960s, Paul Milanowski established a writing system, and he worked with Alfred John to produce several booklets and a school dictionary for use in bilingual programs. James Kari recorded and transcribed a book of stories by Mary Tyone in 1996.
Tanacross is the ancestral language of the Mansfield-Ketchumstock and Healy Lake-Joseph Village bands. It is spoken today at Healy Lake, Dot Lake, and Tanacross on the middle Tanana River. The total population is about 220, of whom about 65 speak the language.
The name Tanacross derives from the English name Tanana Crossing, a ford on the Eagle Trail. The indigenous name for the language is Nee’anděg’.
Tanana Athabascan is now spoken only at Nenana and Minto on the Tanana River below Fairbanks. The Athabascan population of those two villages is about 380, of whom about 30, the youngest approaching age 60, speak the language.
Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan is spoken in the villages of Nikolai, Telida, and McGrath in the Upper Kuskokwim River drainage. Of a total population of about 160 people, about 40 still speak the language.
Deg Xinag (also Deg Hit’an; formerly known by the pejorative Ingalik) is the Athabascan language of Shageluk and Anvik and of the Athabascans at Holy Cross below Grayling on the lower Yukon River. Of a total population of about 275 Deg Hit’an people, about 40 speak the language.
Holikachuk is the Athabascan language of the Innoko River, formerly spoken at the village of Holikachuk, which has moved to Grayling on the lower Yukon River. Holikachuk, which is intermediate between Deg Hit’an and Koyukon, was identified as a separate language in the 1970s. The total population is about 200, and of those perhaps 12 speak the language.
Denaakk’e (also Koyukon) occupies the largest territory of any Alaska Athabascan language. The name Denaakk’e [də-nae-kuh] derives from the word denaa ‘people’ and the suffix -kk’e ‘like, similar’, thus literally meaning ‘like us’. Denaakk’e is spoken in three dialects — Upper, Central, and Lower — in 11 villages along the Koyukuk and middle Yukon rivers. The total population is about 2,300, of whom about 300 speak the language.
Hän is the Athabascan language spoken in Alaska at the village of Eagle and in Yukon Territory at Dawson.
Of the total Alaskan Hän population of about 50 people, perhaps 12 speak the language. A writing system was established in the 1970s, and considerable documentation has been carried out at the Alaska Native Language Center as well as at the Yukon Native Language Centre in Whitehorse.
Gwich’in (Kutchin) is the Athabascan language spoken in the northeastern Alaska villages of Arctic Village, Venetie, Fort Yukon, Chalkyitsik, Circle, and Birch Creek, as well as in a wide adjacent area of the Northwest Territories and Yukon Territory.
The Gwich’in population of Alaska is about 1,100, and of that number about 300 are speakers of the language.
Inupiaq is spoken throughout much of northern Alaska and is closely related to the Canadian Inuit dialects and the Greenlandic dialects, which may collectively be called “Inuit” or Eastern Eskimo, distinct from Yupik or Western Eskimo.
Haida (Xaat Kíl) is the language of the southern half of Prince of Wales Island in the villages of Hydaburg, Kasaan, and Craig, as well as a portion of the city of Ketchikan. Haida is considered a linguistic isolate with no proven genetic relationship to any language family.
About 600 Haida people live in Alaska, and about 15 of the most elderly of those speak the language. A modern writing system was developed in 1972.
Chugach’s focus on providing meaningful benefits – employment opportunities, educational assistance and cultural conservation – fulfills the intent of ANCSA and preserves the culture of the Chugach people for future generations.