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Meet Polly

Polly is building a weekend workshop series for mother-tongue immersion in the Nee'aanèegn language.

Upper Tanana, endonymically known as Nee'aanèegn, is an Indigenous Athapaskan language spoken in eastern Interior Alaska and in parts of the adjacent Yukon territory. Estimates in the year 2000 cited the number of speakers as less than 100, the majority of those being elders. Although Wikipedia states that, "...the extinction of Upper Tanana is in the near future", activists like Polly Hyslop are ensuring the future of their language.

Polly Hyslop was previously an assistant professor for the Indigenous Studies Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and served on the Language Revitalization Committee for the Doyon Foundation. She is currently working on the Upper Tanana course for Doyon Languages Online. Her revitalization project will establish a weekend workshop in the summer for learning about ceremonies in the language. This workshop will be conducted by elders of the Upper Tanana region—currently, there are few opportunities for elders to teach young people the ceremonies; and so, this summer workshop will provide a critical teaching platform.

Polly's Background

Polly Hyslop taught for the Indigenous Studies Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She consults and lectures on her experience, research, and knowledge in local and outside leadership effective in creating safe and healthy Indigenous communities. She is of Upper Tanana River Athabascan Dineh and Scottish ancestry. Polly was born at a fish camp located near the rural village of Northway (interior region of Alaska). She spent her youth in rural Alaska. Her research focuses on community leadership in creating a dispute resolution process, Circle Peacemaking, in a remote Tlingit town in Alaska. Her interest includes the role of outsiders and insiders as facilitators of change within Indigenous communities. She taught classes related to Indigenous planning and research. She also works to document Indigenous language and knowledge. 

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