Language Learners

Language Learners


Download SHI’s Tlingit language apps on your mobile device. Apps include Learning Tlingit, which includes hundreds of entries, and Tlingit Language Games, which teaches words for ocean animals, household items and birds.

  • Tlingit:
    1. Learning Tlingit App

      This app helps to build skills in the Tlingit language. It contains hundreds of entries in more than 20 different categories, all with accompanying audio for vocabulary and phrases.

    2. Tlingit Language Games App

      This app teaches Tlingit words through the interactive games listed below.

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Roots & Stems is an Indigenous language podcast that explores ways to support and join language revitalization efforts. Each episode features interviews with those in the field sharing their experiences in language learning and community. Artwork for the podcast was created by Tlingit artist Alison Bremner for Celebration 2018. Music is by Huk Tgini’its’ga Xsgiik Gavin Hudson of Metlakatla, Alaska.

Video and Audio Resources

Online resources include the Voices of Our Ancestors YouTube series in Lingít, X̱aad Kíl and Sm'algya̱x, and audio resources covering a wide range of topics, including verbs, tools, colors, places, and cooking phrases.

  1. YouTube playlist: Voices of Our Ancestors language learning series. Watch as Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian language teachers say phrases in Lingít (Tlingit), X̱aad Kíl (Haida), and Sm’algya̱x (Tsimshian). In this video series, Lance X̱’uneiTwitchell, Benjamin Young, and Gavin Hudson share terms that are useful to Native language learners.
  2. Lingít, X̱aad Kíl, and Sm’algya̱x vocabulary: These audio and video resources cover a variety of topics, including verbs, tools, colors, numbers, places, carved objects, and cooking phrases. The episodes are offered in audio (.mp3) or video (.mp4) formats.
  3. Language summit: Our first-ever language summit, Voices of Our Ancestors, was held in Juneau in November. The entire three-day event was recorded and can be viewed on YouTube, with or without English translation.
  4. Salmon Boy: Hear and watch the ancient story of Shanyaak'utlaax̱, Salmon Boy, told in Tlingit by storyteller Ishmael Hope of the Kiks.ádi clan with illustrations by Michaela Goade, also of the Kiks.ádi clan.
  5. Clan Names (Eagle) (Audio by John Marks and June Pegues)
  6. Clan Names (Raven) (Audio by John Marks and June Pegues)
  7. Let's Learn Language: Tlingit language use in everyday speech shown through the use of puppets. Ten lessons produced in 1969 by the Juneau Indian Studies Program. The speakers were Johnny Marks, a longtime contributor to SHI's programs, and Eva Marks. Digitized through a partnership between Sealaska Heritage Institute and the Alaska State Library.

Tlingit Culture, Language, and Literacy

The Tlingit Culture, Language, and Literacy (TCLL) program is a place-based, culture-based “school within a school” where the Tlingit language and culture are celebrated, respected, and integrated into daily instruction. SHI works in partnership with Juneau School District to host classrooms in Harborview Elementary where Tlingit Elders work alongside the teaching teams and Tlingit language speakers. TCLL will expand its services for K-8th grade while implementing a dual language model whose goal is to cultivate Tlingit language fluency for children, staff, and families participating in the program. Learn more about this program on the TCLL website.

Our Ancestors’ Echoes

SHI designed the Our Ancestors' Echoes program to increase the number of Alaska Native students in Southeast Alaska who have access to educators teaching their heritage language. Building on the success of the Our Language Pathway project, this work also prioritizes supporting and retaining current language educators, increasing wider access to language courses, and supporting mental health and healing work in the community. Additionally, the program includes the establishment of an immersive language community for 6 scholars enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in Indigenous Studies in Language at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) and the publication of language resources in X̱aad Kíl, Sm'algyax, and Lingít. SHI funds scholarships for language students enrolled at the University of Alaska Southeast who are studying Xaad Kíl, Sm’algyax, and Lingít.

Language Scholars

SHI funds scholarships for Native language students seeking bachelor’s degrees to further perpetuate Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian languages in the establishment of learning nests. Through the three-year program, selected candidates are expected to: - Spend four hours weekly listening to audio in their heritage language; - Spend each year with an advanced language speaker translating and transcribing 15 minutes of archival audio; - Attend SHI’s healing Summer Language Program each year; - Obtain a bachelor's degree in Indigenous studies with an emphasis on Alaska Native Languages.

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Baby Raven Reads

Sealaska Heritage sponsors Baby Raven Reads, an award-winning program that promotes early-literacy, language development and school readiness for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5. The pilot program in Juneau ended in 2017, and SHI received funding to offer the program for several more years and to expand it to nine other communities in Southeast Alaska. SHI is currently offering the program in Anchorage, Angoon, Craig, Haines, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Juneau, Kake, Ketchikan, Klukwan, Metlakatla, Saxman, Sitka, Wrangell, and Yakutat. Special thanks to our partners: Alaska Native Heritage Center, Association of Alaska School Boards, Metlakatla Indian Community, Ketchikan Indian Community, Chilkat Indian Village, Organized Village of Kake, and AEYC-SEA. Baby Raven Reads improves early literacy skills by translating cultural strengths into home literacy practices. Baby Raven Reads provides family literacy events, training for care providers, and professional development for early childhood educators. A study by McKinley Research Group reveals that Native children who participated in the BRR program made 20-39 percent gains in phonetic knowledge, awareness of print concepts, and knowledge of letters and symbols, while scores for all other students have remained relatively static. The program was also known to increase parental and family engagement in student learning.

Literacy Events
Family literacy events occur 9 times a year in selected communities. Storytelling, songs, and other literacy activities are available to Alaska Native families with children up to age 5. Through playful and culturally relevant activities with parents, children are provided opportunities to practice and develop skills such as oral language, phonological awareness, print awareness, and letter knowledge.
Baby Raven Books
Baby Raven Reads publications are a collection based on the cultural themes of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian. The illustrations in the Baby Raven Reads series reflect the importance of family, subsistence, and our land. From baby board books to early readers and read a-louds, babies to adults can find joy in reading together. Families enrolled in Baby Raven Reads will receive Baby Raven Reads books with literacy activities to do at home. Books are also available through the Sealaska Heritage Store.
Audio Resources
SHI's Language Podcast includes the following episodes related to the Baby Raven Reads series:
  • Colors in Sm'algyax
  • Colors in Xaad Kíl
  • Colors in Tlingit
  • Baby Raven
  • Baby Eagle
  • Haida Baby Raven
  • Haida Baby Eagle
Tlingit audio for the Baby Raven Reads book Shanyaak'utlaax - Salmon Boy is available here.
Baby Raven Reads was recognized in 2017 by the Library of Congress, which gave SHI a 2017 Best Practice Honoree award (watch a video short of former Education Director Jackie Kookesh accepting the award). In February 2018, the American Indian Library Association awarded SHI's book Shanyaak'utlaax: Salmon Boy its American Indian Youth Literature Best Picture Book Award, and in January 2020 it gave Raven Makes the Aleutians a AILA Picture Book Honor award.. in February 2018, SHI’s Baby Raven book How Devil’s Club Came to Be was reviewed by the American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) blog as a recommended title. In January 2020, AICL also recommended Cradle Songs of Southeast Alaska.
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