Language family: Na-Dene
Geographical use: Prince William District in southeast Alaska
Information: Indian language
At the end of 2009, the last Eyak speaker, Marie Smith Jones, died in Anchorage at the age of 89. She was probably the last full blood Eyak. Her name in Eyak was Udach' Kuqax*a'a'ch, meaning a sound that calls people from far away. She helped the university of Alaska to compile an Eyak dictionary.
Today the Eyak nation is the smallest indigenous group of Alaska. The tribe does everything to keep its culture alive.
2011, nearly three years later, there is an ambitious new effort to
make Eyak the first Alaska language to be brought back to life. On
1 January 2011, a website was launched to begin the process of helping
Eyaks learn the basics of their "lost" language. It is just one part of
the Eyak Language Project: q'aayaa tl'hix (A New Beginning) -- an
intensive effort to document, preserve and distribute learning
materials to individuals and institutions throughout Alaska and beyond.
The website features a word of the week selected from the archival recordings of the language with Marie Smith Jones, along with new recordings of words and phrases modeled by Dr. Michael Krauss, the linguist who has spent nearly 50 years documenting the language in writing. The web site also includes lessons designed by Guillaume Leduey, a 21-year-old man from France who taught himself how to speak the language from online materials when he was just twelve.