Encouragement Phrases Posters

The Yukon Native Language Centre, Council of Yukon First Nations and respective Yukon First Nations, are pleased to provide posters and pictures of “Encouragement Phrases” in all 8 Yukon First Nations languages. We hope that these downloadable posters and pictures will provide you, your family and friends with the opportunity to exchange encouraging phrases in your language during this time. Please do share with as many folks as you can and feel free to reproduce as posters, placemats, etc.

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Kaska is spoken in the southeastern Yukon in the communities of Ross River, Watson Lake and Upper Liard, and in northern British Columbia in the communities of Lower Post, Fireside, Good Hope Lake, Dease Lake and Muncho Lake. The Kaska language is closely related to Tagish, Tahltan and Sekani. There are some differences in the dialects of Kaska spoken in different regions. Fluent speakers can understand adjoining dialects but younger speakers often have more difficulty understanding more distant dialects. Although Tahltan, Tagish and Sekani are often identified as separate languages there is a high degree of mutual intelligibility between these languages and the adjoining dialects of Kaska.

The name Kaska is apparently derived from Kāskā, the native name of the Creek which joins the Dease River by the former settlement of McDames, British Columbia. The exact meaning of this place name is unclear. This name may have originally been applied to the people trading at McDames Post, and only later came to be identified with all the people who speak the Kaska language.

Historically Kaska traded and intermarried with both Tlingit and Tahltan trading partners. The ancestors of contemporary Kaska were already using guns and steel tools supplied by Tlingit traders when Robert Campbell and other white traders arrived. The names for some trade items, such as ūnē 'gun' are loan words from Tlingit into Kaska. In the later fur trade period the Kaska, especially in the Liard drainage, also interacted extensively with Slavey people of the lower Liard and Nelson Rivers. Cultural exchanges between Ross River and the Mountain Slavey of Fort Norman and Fort Franklin have renewed traditional ties between those communities as well.

The Kaska have two matrilineal moieties, called Crow and Wolf in English, which are often referred to as clans. Most Kaska are aware of their clan affiliation, but rules governing marriage and other forms of interaction between clans are less strictly observed than in the past.

The settlement of Kaska in large permanent communities is a recent phenomena. Most Kaska lived in small family camps until World War II when the Alaska highway was constructed and opportunities for wage labour rapidly increased. Many Kaska now work in resource related industries such as mining and lumbering. The Kaska have not completed an agreement with the Federal and Territorial governments regarding their traditional lands. They have sought to work with companies planning resource developments to reduce environmental damage and maximize economic benefits for Kaska people.

School Programs
There are Kaska school programs at Johnson Elementary School in Watson Lake, at the Watson Lake High School, and at the Ross River School in Ross River. There are also language programs in the schools in B.C. at Lower Post and Good Hope Lake.

Language Materials
Kaska are actively involved in efforts to maintain their language. In 1997 the Kaska Tribal Council published a two volume topical noun dictionary: Guzagi K'uge' (ISBN 0-9682022-0-9). The linguist primarily responsible for this work was Pat Moore. The Yukon Native Language Centre conducts annual Literacy Workshops in conjunction with the Kaska and produces teaching and learning materials. These include Language Lesson Booklets and Tapes, multimedia Computer Books and corresponding Print Story Books, and reports on the Literacy Workshops.

The image below is from the computer story book, Teaching the Kids at Simpson Creek, by Barbara Morris.
They are teaching a lot of kids

Kaska Interactive Language Lessons and Storybooks

Audio Lessons

  1. Testloa George Smith - Ross River Dialect

Audio Storybooks

  1. Josephine Acklack - At Home
  2. Barbara Morris - At Home

Kaska Downloadable Learner Resources

About These Resources

This page provides links to digital copies of language lessons, literacy session booklets, and story books that have been prepared over the past thirty years by the Yukon Native Language Centre and Elders and community members from Kaska First Nations, including Liard First Nation and Ross River Dena Council in the Yukon. The work of all contributors to these materials is gratefully acknowledged here.

Recognizing the importance for Yukon First Nations governments, Elders, advocates, learners, and teachers of Hän to have access to language resources, the Council of Yukon First Nations' Yukon Native Language Centre and Yukon Education's First Nations Programs and Partnerships Unit have worked together to provide the language materials below with assistance from Christopher Cox. While these digital resources are still in early draft form, and are being made available here for non-commercial, information purposes only, it is hoped that they will provide additional support for all those interested in studying, learning, and teaching the Hän language. To order printed copies of any of these resources from YNLC, please consult the current catalogue of publications.

The downloadable audio (CDs) for Language Lessons have been made available by the Yukon Native Language Centre. It is hoped that downloadable audio will provide more accessible support to those learning language and utilizing the print language lesson books.

The Language Lesson Books can now be downloaded and printed from this website by clicking on the "Download Printed Materials" button. To download the Audio (CD) that corresponds with the Language Lesson book, you can simply click on the "Download Audio" button and you will have the audio saved to your computer, which can then be transferred to other devices if you wish.

For more detailed instructions on how to download print resources and the audio please click here.

Kaska Language Lessons with Audio

  1. Mercier, Ann, Jocelyn Wolftail, and Yukon Native Language Centre. 1994. Kaska Language Lessons: Watson Lake Dialect. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre. Download Printed Materials Download Audio
  2. Sterriah, Grady, Josephine Acklack, and Yukon Native Language Centre. 1994. Kaska Language Lessons: Ross River Dialect. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre. Download Printed Materials Download Audio

Kaska Story Books