Upper Tanana

Upper Tanana is the Athapaskan language spoken in the Yukon by people in the Beaver Creek area who have traditionally lived in the Scottie Creek drainage. In addition, it is spoken in eastern Alaska on the Tanana River above the town of Tok as well as in Tetlin and Northway. Each of these communities has a different dialect. The Upper Tanana language is closely related to the Hän and Gwich'in languages.

In the Beaver Creek school, Northern Tutchone has been taught since 2000. In the 1990's, the Upper Tanana language was taught for several years by Doris Johns. In the late 1990's Doris helped reactivate the Upper Tanana Cultural Society, founded in 1988 as a non-profit group aimed at enhancing language and culture within the Upper Tanana region. The Society then published a glossary of the Scottie Creek dialect: Nee'aaneek. Upper Tanana Glossary. Scottie Creek Dialect. (Beaver Creek: 1997). It was complied by Bessie John, 1923-2000, Doris's mother, who worked with the Athapaskan linguist Daniel Tlen. Another society project is a book of Upper Tanana bird names, complete with stories, songs, and pictures.

YNLC Materials

More than ten publications in and on Upper Tanana are currently available from the Yukon Native Language Centre. These include a Language Lesson Booklet and Tape set, six multimedia Computer Books for Macintosh (OS 9 only), three Print Story Books, and reports from the 1997 and 2002 Literacy Workshops. Authoring or assisting with these publications have been Bessie John, Doris Johns, Jenny Sanford, Patrick Johnny and Avis Sam.

Audio Lessons

Under Construction

Audio Storybooks

Bessie John — At Home

Jenny Sanford and Patrick Johnny — Fish Camp (under construction)

Jenny Sanford and Patrick Johnny — Camping (under construction)

Learning 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 Upper Tanana Elders and community members, including from White River First Nation 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 Upper Tanana 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 Upper Tanana language. To order printed copies of any of these resources from YNLC, please consult the current catalogue of publications.

For detailed instructions on how to search, view, download, and print these materials, please see the language learning resources guide.

Search all print resources

Upper Tanana Language Lessons

  1. John, Bessie and Yukon Native Language Centre. 2010. Upper Tanana Language Lessons: Scottie Creek Dialect. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.

Upper Tanana Literacy Sessions and In‐Services

  1. Yukon Native Language Centre. 1997. Upper Tanana Literacy Session. Workshop held at the Yukon Native Language Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon, November 12–14, 1997. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.
  2. Yukon Native Language Centre. 2001. White River First Nation Language Session (Upper Tanana). Yukon Native Language Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon, February 28 – March 1 and 2, 2001. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.
  3. Yukon Native Language Centre. 2002. Upper Tanana Literacy Session. Yukon Native Language Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon, November 25–28, 2002. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.
  4. Yukon Native Language Centre. 2006. Upper Tanana Literacy Session. Yukon Native Language Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon, February 21–23, 2006. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.
  5. Yukon Native Language Centre. 2007. Upper Tanana Literacy Session. Yukon Native Language Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon, May 10–11, 2007. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.
  6. Yukon Native Language Centre. 2007. Upper Tanana Literacy Session. Yukon Native Language Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon, November 14–16, 2007. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.
  7. Yukon Native Language Centre. 2009. Upper Tanana Literacy Session. Yukon Native Language Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon, February 5–6, 2009. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.
  8. Yukon Native Language Centre. 2010. Upper Tanana and Northern Tutchone Literacy Session for White River First Nation. February 15–18, 2010, Yukon Native Language Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.
  9. Yukon Native Language Centre. 2011. U. Tanana and N. Tutchone Literacy Session for the White River First Nation. Yukon Native Language Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon, February 28–March 2, 2011. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.
  10. Yukon Native Language Centre. 2014. Upper Tanana Literacy Session. Yukon Native Language Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon, November 13–14, 2014. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.

Upper Tanana Story Books

  1. John, Bessie and Yukon Native Language Centre. 1996. Dineh Łàatihàay. The Man is Hunting. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.
  2. John, Bessie and Yukon Native Language Centre. 1997. Naatùʼ Nachʼehchʼį̀ǫ. Naatùʼ Goes Fishing. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.
  3. John, Bessie and Yukon Native Language Centre. 1998. Chahjäktàʼ S̱ẖah X̱ah Naholnik. At Chahjäktà's House. Whitehorse, YT: Yukon Native Language Centre.

Related Language Links

Under Construction