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Athabascan Word of the Week: Looking around

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Posted: Friday, August 31, 2012 11:53 pm | Updated: 11:21 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

Last week, I spent a few days in Kaltag, working with language teacher Sophie Alexie on strategies for teaching Denaakk’e in the Lower Koyukon dialect. It was energizing to work with the students again. Then I went to Koyukuk for the Yukon World Series baseball games. Games began Friday, lasted until the sun went down Friday and Saturday and ended in the rain Sunday.

This week, I finalized digital stories that students created last year as part of the Artist in Schools program. As part of that, I worked with Anna Frank to identify photos from the late 1950s that were taken by the late Gordon Olson, an Assembly of God pastor.

Here are a couple of photos Gordon Olson took that were appropriate for “looking around.” When someone goes out hunting, they don’t say “I’m going hunting,” because that is disrespectful to the game. We say we are “looking around.” May everyone have safe journeys this Labor Day weekend.

This week's phrases

Phrases in Menhti Kenaga’ from Lower Tanana Athabascan Lessons by Ellen Frank.

K’o’esdoyh. — I’m walking around.

Do’it’anh? — What are you doing?

Jega unesya. — I’m picking berries.

Kokht’ana dot’anh? — What is the man doing?

Dena nołto’ le’anh. — The man is going hunting.

The Athabascan Word of the Week appears every Saturday on page A3 of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. The words are provided by Susan “K’etsoo” Paskvan of Yukon-Koyukuk School District. She is originally from the village of Koyukuk on the Yukon River in Interior Alaska. She is Tleeyegge Hut’aane, which is Koyukon Athabascan. She seeks stories and phrases from both Denaakk’e (Koyukon Athabascan) and Denak’a (Lower Tanana Athabascan), which are languages spoken in the Yukon-Koyukuk School District region. Yukon-Koyukuk School District serves the villages of Allakaket, Hughes, Huslia, Koyukuk, Nulato, Kaltag, Ruby, Manley Hot Springs and Minto. The Board of Education places a priority on teaching the Native languages within the district.

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