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  • Writer's picture7000Languages

Happy World Teachers Day!

October 5th is World Teachers Day, and we have lots to celebrate! Teachers are the backbone of our society, shaping the young minds of tomorrow through fostering creativity and curiosity. Teachers ensure that their students are informed citizens, capable of determining their own futures, by instilling independent and critical thinking skills, as well as compassion and a broader understanding of the world around them. We all have a teacher, or two, we can thank for the knowledge they've shared with us along the way.

One of the many ways of learning and developing a sense of identity and self is through language. Many speakers of their heritage language claim to have better feelings of self-worth, belonging, and identity. Some students have even expressed feeling more confident about who they are and where they fit in the world, through a strong sense of connection to their family and background.

"A heritage language can help learners interact with relatives, travel, enjoy popular culture (such as movies and music in the heritage language), and pass down traditions like songs and recipes that might otherwise be lost to time." - NASMA of New York

For this day, we would like to shine the light on 7 individuals leading the charge in their communities and classrooms to help their native languages and students thrive.

Photos and bios courtesy of Doyon Foundation.

Dewey Kk'ołeyo Hoffman


Kk'ołeyo se'ooze'. Tleeyegg'e hʉt'aan eslaanh. Bedzeyh te hʉt'aan eslaanh. Sedełnekkaa Dee Olin K'etse'hʉltoone yeł David Hoffman Kk'oneeh'oł yeł heelaanh. Setseye kkaa enaa'e bedełnekkaa Fred Olin yeł Lillian Olin yeł hegheelaa'. Setseye kkaa enaa'e bedełnekkaa John Honea yeł Lorraine Honea yeł hegheelaa'. Setseye kkaa etaa'e bedełnekkaa George Hoffman yeł Helen Hoffman yeł hegheelaa'. Tlaa'ologhe hʉts'enh ts'aadaanslet dehoon Fairbanks lesdo. Denaakk'e hedohʉdege'eh dehoon hedo'k'ʉhʉdeł'eeghenh. Uvaƞa Putyuk. Aƞayuukaaka Dee Olin-lu David Hoffman-lu. Tinaaġmiuġuruƞa. Atqasugiksuaq aniruƞa. Nuliaġa Kunaq. Paniġa Iƞmaġana. Ilisaniaqtuƞa Iñupiatun.

My Denaakk’e name Kk’ołeyo means “walking.” My Iñupiaq name Putyuk means “pinch.” I am Koyukon Athabascan, Caribou People, originally from Ruby living in Fairbanks. My mother is Dee Olin, grandparents Fred Olin, Sr. and Lillian Olin of middle Yukon and adopted grandparents John and Lorraine Honea of Ruby. My father is David Hoffman, grandparents George and Helen Hoffman of Bozeman, Montana. I have one child Telele Iƞmaġana with Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone (Iñupiaq/Kiowa) of Nome, Alaska. I advocate for Indigenous forms of education in Alaska, especially Indigenous languages instruction to youth, and a strong and informed Alaska Native and statewide citizenry.

Bruce Ervin

Upper Tanana

Bruce Ervin shǫǫs̲ì’, Tok dhìhdah, shnąą Betty Didricksen mǫǫs̲ì’, and shtà’ John Ervin mǫǫs̲ì’.

My name is Bruce Ervin and I live in Tok, Alaska, my mother’s name is Betty Didricksen, and my father’s name is John Ervin. I am an Upper Tanana Dene and Northway Tribal member. I’m a UAF CRCD ANLC Term Assistant Professor of Language and Culture at the Tok IAC. I joined the DLE project to learn more about how to continue my language learning journey and use what I’ve learned to teach and pass on our Nee’aaneegn’ Upper Tanana Language to language learners, fluent speakers, and future generations. Tsin’įį choh to Doyon Foundation and Doyon Languages Online for this amazing opportunity.

Bertina Titus

Lower Tanana

Se’uzra’ Bertina J. Titus, My grandparents are the Late Neal & Geraldine Charlie, the late Carl H. Ramay Jr. was my Father, and my mom is Carol Reid. I am married to Gabriel Titus and we have 7 kids. Menok’oget dhesdo -we live in Minto. I feel that this opportunity will help me gain more knowledge to be a better teacher since I am just learning and it will give me more tools in my hands to help others gain more knowledge as well. I don’t think people really understand the weight of what we are doing in revitalizing the language. Our elders stressed it so much and I didn’t listen– it seems like nobody did– and here we are trying to pull something out of the ground that was almost lost. I made a promise to Setseya ghila’ Neal that I will pick up our language and do the best I can to keep it going. I am so thankful and blessed to be part of something bigger than I am. Ana Basi’

Anna Nelaatugh Clock


Anna Nelaatugh Clock (Koyukon, Eyak) is a lover and teacher of Alaska Native languages. She graduated from UAS with a certificate in Teaching Indigenous Languages in May 2022. She teaches Lingit and looks forward to learning and teaching Denaakkʼe.

Teresa Trinidad

Lower Tanana

My mother’s family is from Beaver, Alaska. Rampart is where my grandfather’s family is from. My grandmother and father were born in Puerto Rico and I was born in New York. When I was in New York, I spoke Spanish until I moved to Beaver, Alaska. I grew up listening to Spanish and then when I moved to Beaver I lost it. I started to realize the importance of language when it came to my children and their culture and traditions. I joined the DLE project for our future generations to have a strong sense of self-identity. I want them to be grounded in their language, culture, and traditional ways of life. Singing and dancing is medicine to our soul. Language warriors rise up, now is the time to step up.

James Miller


I became interested in the Holikachuk language in 2018, after a few years of ministry in Grayling. I have worked with the tribe, elders, and school to initiate language classes in the high school. I’m happy to be working toward language preservation with the mutual support from the cohort.

Sabine Siekmann

Language Consultant

Dr. Sabine Siekmann is Professor of Linguistics and Foreign Languages at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. An interdisciplinary applied linguist specializing in language pedagogy, she conducts largely collaborative research in the areas of bilingualism, Indigenous language maintenance and revitalization, second language teaching, computer assisted language learning and critical intercultural education. Siekmann’s research is informed by cultural historical activity theory, teacher action research and other critical approaches to language pedagogy and theory. She has directed a series of large scale federally funded grant projects supporting Alaska Native (language) education through graduate education and materials development. Her previous publications include the co-edited volumes: Task-Based Language Teaching and Learning: Theoretical, Methodological, and Pedagogical Perspective (with Johannes Eckerth) and Communities of Practice: An Alaska Native Model for Language Teaching and Learning (with Patrick Marlow) as well as journal articles and book chapters. Her most recent book Multiliteracies Pedagogy and Language Teaching: Stories of Praxis from Indigenous Communities will be published in 2023.

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