Southeast Alaska Languages

Eyak (DaXunhyuuga’)

Eyak Language

The Eyak language is indigenous to the Copper River Delta and was once spoken in Yakutat and Icy Bay. The Eyak language became known around the world as the face of language extinction after the passing of Marie Smith Jones in 2008, the last full-blooded Eyak and native speaker of the language. However, in 2010, the Anchorage Daily News published a story reporting that Guillaume Leduey, a French teenager, had learned to speak Eyak through materials he obtained from the Alaska Native Language Center. The Eyak Preservation Council is working to revive the language, and the organization has produced a comprehensive learner’s website.

Eyak (no audio) English
iishuh Hello (to one person)
lAXiishuh Hello (to several people)
AwA’ahdah Thank you
ilah qe'xleh I love you
aan Yes
dik’, dik’ah No

            External Links:

            Eyak Language Revitalization Project


Tlingit (Lingít Yoo Xʼatángi)

Tlingit Language

Tlingit is spoken in Southeast Alaska from Yakutat to Ketchikan and by Inland Tlingit speakers in Canada. There are 200 first-language speakers today. There are five major dialects: Northern Tlingit, Transitional Tlingit (spoken in Petersburg, Wrangell and Kake), Southern Tlingit, Inland Tlingit (spoken in Canada), and an extinct Tongass dialect (formerly spoken south of Ketchikan).

Tlingit has a very rich phonological system with many ejective consonants. There are four sounds unique to Tlingit not shared with any other documented language on earth. Verbs, like many Na-Dene languages, can be extremely variant, while nouns are more predictable, often being derived from verbs. Tlingit courses are taught at the University of Alaska Southeast and the University of Alaska Anchorage. Sealaska Heritage Institute has also produced Native language curriculum and educational resources for learning Tlingit.

Tlingit (Yakutat dialect) Click to Listen English
Gunalchéesh Thank you
Wáa sá si yatee? How are you?
Ax̱ toowu yak'éi I feel good
Yak'éi i x̱wsateení It's good to see you
Ix̱six̱án I love you
Aaá Yes
Tléik' No
Haagú Come here
K'idéin natá Sleep well
Eesháan Poor thing
Gunalchéesh haat yigoodí Thank you for coming
Chúk Scram

External Links:

Sealaska Heritage Institute Language Resources

Ketchikan Indian Community

Yukon Native Language Center

Goldbelt Heritage Foundation


Haida (Xaat Kíl)

Haida Language

Haida is the language spoken in the communities of Hydaburg, Craig, Kasaan and Ketchikan in Southeast Alaska. The Haida language does not have any demonstrable genetic relationship to any other language. There are only four remaining speakers in Alaska, and about 20 speakers on Haida Gwaii in British Columbia. There are two dialects: Northern and Southern. Alaskan Haida speak a subdialect of the Northern dialect called Kaigani Haida.

Northern Haida has a feature exclusive to just a few languages in the world, known as radical consonants. These consonants are articulated with the base of the tongue in the throat. Haida is taught at the University of Alaska Southeast and is supported by resources from the Sealaska Heritage Institute.

Haida (no audio) English
Sán uu dáng ghiidang? Hello, how are you?
Díi 'láagang I'm fine
Hóws dáng hl khíngsaang I will see you again (farewell phrase)
Díi gwíihl stíihl Return to me (leave response)
Háw'aa Thank you

External links:

Sealaska Language Resources

Ketchikan Indian Community

Haida Legends Project (Canada)


Tsimshian (Sm'álgyax)

Tsimshian Language

Tsimshian is spoken in the community of Metlakatla on Annette Island, south of Ketchikan in Southeast Alaska. The Tsimshian community settled on Annette Island in 1887, led by missionary William Duncan. There are seven first-language speakers of Tsimshian in Alaska today. There are two main dialects: Coastal and Southern Tsimshian; Alaska speakers speak Coast Tsimshian (or Sm’algax).

Tsimshian is taught at the University of Alaska Southeast and supported by resources from the Sealaska Heritage Institute.

Tsimshian Click to Listen English
Ndeeya wila waan? How are you?
Nt'oyaxsn Thank you (said to one person)
Aam Good
Si'pn nuut nuun I love you
Aam di wila waalu I am good
Aam dsh nuun Good, and you?
Luk'wil aam wila waalu I am very good
Ama g̲unɫaak Good morning
Ama sah gya'wn Good day today
Ama huup'l  Good evening
Ndm al gyik niidzn Until we meet again (said to one person)
Gilks amaniisgn Take care of yourself (said to one person)

External links:

Ketchikan Indian Community

Sm’algax Dictionary

Sealaska Language Resources

*Images courtesy of the Alaska Native Language Archive