In Fall 2021, Igiugig Village was awarded a three-year $2 million grant from the Department of Education to develop the Iliamna Communities Teaching Culture through Native Languages (CTC-NL) project. This project will capture a fleeting opportunity for students to learn local Alaska Native Languages in their own villages. Research shows that students that learn languages experience improved test scores, increased high school graduation rates, better self-esteem, and a stronger sense of place and identity. With this funding, we will increase language learning opportunities for LPSD students, provide students with job skills in language revitalization, and create and deliver a holistic cultural curriculum tailored to virtual language learning in the Lake Iliamna dialects of Dena’ina and Yup’ik languages.
We recently hired an Alaska Native Education Career Counselor specializing in Alaska Native Language and culture who will be a resource for LPSD students and have recruited village coordinators who will be additional language education supports for our students. We are currently working to develop Virtual Language Labs to offer more learning resources. So far in 2022, the project team has been able to participate in several events including the BBNC Indigenous Language Gathering and the LPSD SNAP Meet. The Native Language & Activities Workshop that we led at the SNAP Meet was a huge success with students. An LPSD staff member shared that they would like to involve the project team more in the future after so many students remarked that it was their favorite workshop. We are grateful to have had this opportunity to support student reflection, community relationships, and cultural connection!