Investing in traditional languages, ensuring continued growth and revitalization of our mother tongues in perpetuity.

Very few birth speakers of Southeast Alaska’s traditional languages — Sm’algyax, Xaad Kíl and Lingít — remain. All are older than 70, and a majority are 80 or older. The group includes four birth speakers of Sm’algyax, one birth speaker of Xaad Kíl, and 63 birth speakers of Lingít. There is an urgent need to develop new, advanced speakers of our languages, and Sealaska is committed to the task. In November 2019, the Sealaska Board of Directors approved a $10 million endowment aimed at urgent action to preserve traditional languages with a focus on developing advanced speakers of each of the three languages. Sealaska’s endowment is designed to amplify the efforts of other individuals, informal groups and formal institutions throughout Southeast Alaska.

How we do it

The fund is expected to generate $500,000 in grants annually to invigorate Indigenous languages over the next decade. Projects that have been funded so far include support for part-time, paid language mentors to assist students in the process of learning their language and create learning materials to assist them, and direct immersion with birth speaker and Elder Ilskyaalas Delores Churchill.

Sealaska is welcoming applications to support language preservation efforts. To learn more or apply, please email Tasha Heumann at

Sealaska Resources

Language Resources

We have limited time. We must act now to create new, young, adult fluent speakers while the birth-speaking Elders are still with us.
—President Chalyee Éesh Richard Peterson, Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
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The 2024 – 2025 Sealaska Language Application Period is Now Open!