A Navajo Nation Council delegate has stepped down from his seat.
Seth Damon will take up a new position as Deputy Secretary of Indian Affairs for the State of New Mexico.
KSJD’s Clark Adomaitis has more.
Seth Damon bid farewell to the Navajo Nation council.
“My family and I share a deep appreciation for the communities I had the privilege of representing over the years. And thank you for standing with me during positive and very oftentimes difficult times.”
Damon is accepting a new position in New Mexico’s Department of Indian Affairs, a department that recently replaced a controversial cabinet secretary, and that has been criticized for its response in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives crisis.
“What Speaker Damon did is really going to help us especially the New Mexico (Navajo) chapters.”
Eugenia Charles-Newton is a Navajo Nation council member who co-sponsored a number of bills with Seth Damon.
Charles-Newton spoke to Council on Seth Damon’s last day.
“Because we do really give millions of dollars back to the state of New Mexico who are trying to help us to with water projects with Chapter projects with road projects. And because of the miscommunication that happens between the federal or the sorry, the state government and the Navajo Nation. I think that Speaker Damon is a perfect fit to try to fix that issue.”
The Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council says that an interim council member will be appointed to fill Damon’s vacant seat.
A special election will be held to permanently fill the seat.
The Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak, Alaska, in collaboration with the Alutiiq Museum, have released a textbook to help revitalize an endangered Alaska Native language.
As KMXT’s Davis Hovey reports, it’s a new tool to teach the next generation of Sugpiaq or Alutiiq speakers.
A new Alutiiq Language textbook, released last month, focuses on the Koniag dialect, although it’s open to anyone who wants to learn Alutiiq.
Dehrich Chya, Alutiiq Language and Living Culture Manager at the Alutiiq Museum, is one of the co-authors.
He says many Alutiiq speakers were consulted to create this textbook.
“Whenever we’re doing any language, producing any language materials, we work as much as we can with language speakers who live here in Kodiak. Over the past few years, that has gotten harder and harder as speakers have passed on.”
Chya started his language journey with nearly no knowledge of Alutiiq, having rarely heard it spoken when he was growing up.
Now he is an advanced speaker who still considers himself a language learner.
He says this textbook, in conjunction with all the other online language resources, can help revitalize the endangered Alaska Native language, but there are still challenges that exist for a beginner to become fluent in Alutiiq.
“I think the hardest part of learning the language is finding time to use it with somebody. Because language learning for a lot of people is quite a personal journey and not everybody has the opportunity to have other people around them who are also learning at the same time or at the same rate.”
With Elders and fluent Alutiiq speakers dying off, there is a need for more speaker-teachers to help the next generation achieve proficiency in their second language.
That’s where Peggy Azuyak comes in. She’s teaching Alutiiq language classes to young adults at the Kodiak College, under the University of Alaska Anchorage.
“I’m using it right now in my Alutiiq 102 class. This is the first semester I am able to use it with students.”
The new Alutiiq Language textbook features 15 chapters, including sections on numbers and math, and is targeted towards high school and college age students.
“Several high school students have been interested in going through either the Kodiak High School or College courses and are involved with teaching the language in their home communities.”
Anyone who wants to learn to speak Alutiiq can access the Alutiiq Language textbook online for free.