Atka Sunset

After many months of preliminary planning with our host community, WAYK is very excited to announce the details of our 2016 Summer Intensive! This summer, the WAYK team will be headed to Atka, Alaska!

The language we’ll be working with in Atka is Niigugim Tunuu, the Western (or “Atkan”) dialect of Unangam Tunuu, an Eskimo-Aleut language. We worked with the Eastern dialect of Unangam Tunuu on St. Paul Island in the summer of 2015. Atka’s relative isolation and the community’s strong sense of identity have helped the language thrive for longer than in many other Aleutian communities, but, due to a number of factors, Niigugim Tunuu is still threatened.  Today, Atka is the only village community that still has speakers of Niigugim Tunuu in the United States. This summer program represents the next phase of our long-term collaboration with the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association and the communities throughout the region. Support for this project will be provided by The Aleut Corporation, The Aleut Foundation, the Administration for Native Americans, as well as the Atka IRA, and the Aleutian Region School District.

View of Atka's Church

This summer five WAYK players, including 3 WAYK interns, and members of the regional Unangam Tunuu core team will travel to Atka to work with a team of local speakers and youths, organized by Crystal Dushkin. The primary goal of the Summer Intensive (May 30th-August 15th) will be increased fluency for all program participants, through regular and frequent immersion visits with fluent speakers. Additionally, all participants will be trained in the fundamentals of WAYK, and will help to develop and document language lessons based on our immersion sessions.

The host communities for past WAYK summer projects have included: Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (2011), Yurok Nation (2012), Kodiak Island (2013), Tsleil-Waututh Nation (2014), and St. Paul Island (2015).

Written by Evan Gardner