It has been a very long time since I have provided an update on our language revitalization program. It is partially because we have been a flurry of activity. Here are some highlights:
August 2017: Visited Ayaprun School in Bethel, an immersion school, and the Lower Kuskokwim School District headquarters which operate bilingual schools, to learn about curriculum materials and development, and immersion techniques. On our return home we routed through Anchorage to sit in on Marie Meade’s Yup’ik language class at UAA, and to also meet with Yaari Walker of the Alaska Native Heritage Center about the unique whistling language of St. Lawrence Island.
September 2017: Community classes commenced at Igiugig School with Yup’ik lunch with our elders and then an activity such as bingo, jeopardy, and “Total Physical Response”. Piipiit unglu, the main focus of the final year, is held anywhere from 8-15 hours in a given week.
October 2017: Nita Rearden taught a Doll-Making or “Irniaruaq” workshop, and we completed program evaluations.
November 2017: Annie Wilson, Halay and Jiles Turning Heart and myself attended the annual grantee meeting of the Administration for Native Americans where we were able to meet directly with our program officer about budget modifications that we needed in the final year of the grant to ensure funds are expended. We sat in on an inspiring session by the Kodiak Alutiiq language group and the head-start immersion program that they run as well as many other ANA funded language programs across the nation.
December 2017: Our class size momentarily doubled and we needed a larger space so we rented the “Triple Wide” from the council and set up a new, large and improved classroom. We are enjoying the new space and are able to accommodate several age groups at once.
January 2018: Aiggayagaq, Apapi-llu attended a “Where Are Your Keys” training (and Sherry for the first evening). Learned exciting new language learning and teaching techniques to share with our team. Then our program hosted an immersion dance fan making class with master Emily Johnston. This was followed by a beaded headdress workshop with our elder mentor Evelyn Yanez. We also discontinued daily/weekly classes at the school to concentrate on unglu, but Yuraq continues on Fridays at school right after lunch.
February 2018: We began hosting weekly “soup-making M-A” at my house, modeled after what we learned from the Kodiak language group and it is working to keep apprentices a little more involved in language learning. It is convenient because as busy as our lives are, we all need to eat!
March 2018: Mark your calendars – Dr. Walkie Charles of University of Alaska Fairbanks will be traveling to Igiugig to teach a custom language workshop! The dates are March 13-16. We are also hoping he can return in May.
This is our third year of the grant, and it will be ending on July 31, 2018. Keep on learning!