University of Alaska Southeast to Offer Free Alaska Native Language Courses

The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) announced Monday that they will offer non-credit classes in Alaska Native languages this fall with no tuition or fees required. Students can pay tuition for the classes to receive credit.

“The University of Alaska Southeast is committed to recognizing and acknowledging historical wrongs endured by Alaska Native Communities,” Carin Silkaitis, Dean of UAS’s School of Arts and Sciences, said in a statement via email. “We are making sure Indigenous people don’t have to pay to learn their own language. It’s so important in the work towards language revitalization and overall healing.”

The university said it will offer classes in Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Students can take free classes without credit, or pay tuition and fees to receive credit. The classes will run from August 29 to December 17, according to course listings. They take place in the late afternoon and evening, and most are in session twice a week. 

The courses are listed as available at all three of UAS’s campuses: Sitka, Ketchikan and Juneau. The university said their free language courses are offered both in-person and online. 

Dr. X̱ʼunei Lance Twitchell, one of the language instructors, said in the statement that UAS looks forward to “doing all we can to help move our language communities to places of safety.” 

twitchell davis sharing laughL’éiwtu Éesh Herman Davis and X̱‘unei Lance Twitchell share a laugh during a 2022 immersion In Juneau hosted by Goldbelt Heritage Foundation, Sealaska Corporation, AWARE, Tlingit & Haida, Hoonah School District, and UAS. (Photo/Courtesy/Éedaa Heather Burge)

“Education in America for Native American peoples has long been a vehicle of oppression, genocide, and assimilation,” Twitchell said. “Our goal at UAS is to transform education into a vehicle of opportunity, equity, and healing. As one of our elders, Kaséix̱ Selina Everson said: haa wsineix̱ haa yoo x̱ʼatángi (our language saved us).”

Also starting this fall, the university also said that it will offer a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies degree, which will provide courses in Alaska Native arts, languages and governance. 

“The mission of the degree is to decolonize institutions through Indigenization and inclusion, and ensuring that Alaska Native languages, peoples, histories, and organizations are seen, known, values, and included,” UAS said in the statement. 

Those interested in UAS programs can visit or speak to an advisor at 907-796-6100. 

More Stories Like This

Essay Contest Open to Youth Ages 10-19; $5,000 Prize
Native American Journalism Fellows Announced
A Tour Around Haskell and an Engaging Visit With Rep. Christina Haswood
Ojibwe educator, Illinois Native organization granted $50,000 to further social justice work

Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news? 

For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author

Andrew Kennard
Author: Andrew KennardEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Reporting Intern

Andrew Kennard is a reporting intern for Native News Online. Kennard, a rising junior at Drake University, writes freelance for the Iowa Capital Dispatch and has worked for The Times-Delphic, Drake’s student newspaper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *