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A subject I have always been fascinated and passionate about is the plight of endangered languages. Not many people know or perhaps understand what that is, but I would love to share it with you, so I created a new weekly topic that explores it, focusing on one language a week. With the help and blessing of The Endangered Languages Project, we would like to bring some awareness to this serious tragedy to our readers, and literature being a language in written form– I thought went well with the theme of the blog.


Also known as:

Ahtena, Nabesna, Tanana, Ah-tena, Atna, Copper River, Mednovskiy

Critically endangered

100 percent certain, based on the evidence available

Only 30 known speakers left world-wide

Among the Ahtna population, there are approximately 30 first-language speakers of the language alive today, all of whom are at least 60 years of age. Although most children know some phrases and vocabulary items in the language, English is the language taught in homes today (p. 3).(“Directional Reference, Discourse, and Landscape In Ahtna” Berez, Andrea L., 2011)

There is, however, a growing passion for Ahtna language revitalization in the community, and several recent projects have undertaken to increase knowledge of the heritage language among Ahtna people and non-Ahtna residents of the Copper Valley. (pp. 3-4.)

USA; Alaska
The Ahtna community today consists of eight modern villages (Mentasta, Chistochina, Gakona, Gulkana, Tazlina, Copper Center, Chitina, and Cantwell) in the Copper River and Upper Susitna drainages of south central Alaska. More than 1600 Ahtna residents of the area are shareholders in Ahtna, Incorporated, one of the thirteen Alaska Native Regional Corporations established by Congress under the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. (p. 3)

Ahtna phrases video:

Ahtna Alphabet video:

More Ahtna phrases video:


  • Endangered Languages Catalogue Project. Compiled by research teams at University of Hawai’i Mānoa and Institute for Language Information and Technology (LINGUIST List) at Eastern Michigan University . (2012) ·
  • Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 16th Edition (2009) . (2009) · edited by M. Paul Lewis · SIL International
  • World Oral Literature Project .
  • Encyclopedia of the World’s Endangered Languages . Christopher Moseley (2007) · Routledge
  • Endangered Languages of the United States ( pp. 108-130 ) . Christopher Rogers, Naomi Palosaari and Lyle Campbell (2010) · In Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger of Disappearing edited by Christopher Moseley · UNESCO
  • North America ( pp. 7-41 ) . Victor Golla and Ives Goddard and Lyle Campbell and Marianne Mithun and Mauricio Mixco (2008) · In Atlas of the World’s Languages edited by Chris Moseley and Ron Asher · Routledge
  • Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger . Christopher Moseley (ed.) (2010) · UNESCO Publishing
  • The World Atlas of Language Structures . (2005) · edited by Bernard Comrie and David Gil and Martin Haspelmath and Matthew S. Dryer · Oxford University Press
  • Ahtna Athapaskan Dictionary . Kari, James (1990) · Alaska Native Language Center