The Dena’ina Language Institute assures Kahtnuht’ana Dena’ina will thrive forever by sharing language, culture, and traditional learning. The Dena’ina Language Institute provides language leadership and high quality Dena’ina teacher preparation. We implement innovative, engaging, and unique Dena’ina language learning experiences for all ages.
On this website, you will find Dena’ina language resources, including an audio dictionary, a verb dictionary, and a grammar book. Additional resources will be provided as the Dena’ina Language Institute grows.
The work shared here is the result of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe’s Dena’ina Language and Culture Revitalization Project. Our hope is that these resources will provide greater access to Dena’ina language learners everywhere.
When we started working on the Dena’ina audio dictionary, there were four Elder first language speakers working with us. By the summer of 2021, three of them had passed away. There are between five and seven first language speakers of Dena’ina alive upon the publishing of this dictionary.
We would like to thank Dr. Siri Tuttle and the Minto Lower Tanana people for their work in producing a pocket dictionary for their Benhti Kokht’ana Kenaga’. After seeing that project’s success, we wanted to make one for Dena’ina naqenaga, our Dena’ina language. Dr. Tuttle spent many hours advising on this project.
The Kenaitze Indian Tribe’s Dena’ina Language and Culture Revitalization Project team of Andrea Ivanoff, Jasmine Koster, James Starkloff, Jennifer Williams, and Joel Isaak selected high frequency, everyday phrases from the Albert Wasillie Jr. Dictionary, the Dena’ina Topical Dictionary, and the draft Dena’ina Verb Stem Dictionary. We selected approximately 400 phrases from these written texts that we use in our daily lives frequently.
The Dena’ina qenaga audio and pocket dictionary was produced by working with Dena’ina Elder and first language speaker Helen Dick. Helen is from the Stony River area. As we worked with Helen, she added her ideas of words that she thought were important as well.
We made audio recordings of Helen saying these phrases. We worked as a team to spell the words as accurately as possible based on the Dena’ina writing system used in the Dena’ina Topical Dictionary and the Dena’ina Verb Stem Dictionary by Dr. James Kari. Our editing team included Andrea Ivanoff, Dr. James Kari, Jennifer Williams, and Joel Isaak.
Kenaitze Tribal Members, community members, and Dena’ina language family members have been asking for a resource like this for many years. It was made possible through collaboration between generations and working with our Ahtna and Dena’ina language family.