Alaskan Tribe Takes Knowledge of Elders into Digital Age
In the International Year of Indigenous Languages, an Alaskan indigenous community has launched an immersive app to help save a language and heritage on the brink of extinction.
The app, Katurlita! – Let’s All Gather, communicates the importance, resilience, and richness of the unique Alutiiq culture and heritage. Alutiiq are the indigenous people of the Kodiak Island Archipelago in the Gulf of Alaska who have inhabited traditional lands for over 7,500 years.
The app has been developed by the Native Village of Afognak which represents over 700 tribal members, descended specifically from the village of Afognak, on Afognak Island, in the northern part of the Archipelago.
Katurlita! – Let’s All Gather provides information on Afognak history, places, language, values, cultural knowledge, and traditional arts, using audio, text, video, and song. Highlights include an interactive map teaching pronunciation of key sites, a section where you can listen to “Voices of our Elders,”, a tool where you can develop your own introduction in the Alutiiq language, and push notifications to build community and engagement.
Katurlita! – Let’s All Gather is designed to be a rallying point for members to learn important aspects of who we are, our culture and what we do,” says Tribal Administrator JJ Orloff.
“The goal is to bring the expertise, knowledge and sensitivity of our elders into the digital age. This will ensure cultural continuity, where our young people remain strong in retaining their language, culture and heritage.”
The development of the immersive app has been supported by New Zealand based technology innovator Kiwa Digital, an indigenous owned company with a global reputation for its work in language revitalization.
“We congratulate the Native Village of Afognak for this bold move into future learning,” says Steven Renata, CEO of Kiwa Digital.
“In this International Year of Indigenous Languages, indigenous groups around the world are putting huge effort into preserving languages. This is paying off and we are now at a crucial stage in terms of their preservation, with technology the key to success.”
The app is available for free download using these links:
In This Issue
Spreading the Word
When Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) first aired TV commercials featuring the tagline, “A Place That’s Always Been,” the reaction was surprising. Not only because they received numerous accolades and marketing awards for the campaign but because, at the time, it was rare for Alaska Native corporations to market themselves through the media.