Upper Inlet Dena’ina Lessons


Upper Inlet Dena’ina and This Project

The Upper Inlet dialect of Dena’ina has been spoken throughout Upper Cook Inlet Basin, including at the communities of Tyonek, Knik, and Eklutna. These language lessons were adapted from lessons developed by the Yukon Native Language Centre and were recorded with Sava Stephan in Anchorage in February, 1999. This work on this book was sponsored privately by James Kari. This publication is produced by the Dena’ina Language Program of the Alaska Native Heritage Center. James Kari would like to thank Sava Stephan, Isaac Stephan, Donita Peter, and Jon Ross for their help and encouragement. Web adaptation and design by Megan Thornley, with revisions by Gary Holton.

Sava Stephan, Sr.

Sava Stephan was born in 1920 in Susitna Station. Sava grew up speaking the Dena’ina language. He moved to Tyonek in 1934 along with most of the residents of Susitna Station. Sava has worked and traveled throughout the Susitna and Tyonek areas, and today he is the recognized expert on Upper Inlet Dena’ina. As a teacher, storyteller and singer Sava has made an enormous contribution to Dena’ina language and culture. He was a major contributor to the 2003 edition of Shem Pete’s Alaska (University of Alaska Press). He continued to be engaged in Dena'ina language work in his later life until his passing in 2013.

Listen to a mesage from Sava Stephan here.

Audio and Transcript

The audio available on these pages is in mp3 format, a format supported by most platforms.

The lessons are based upon the audio recording made by Sava Stephan. A booklet with these lessons, including an audio CD, is available from the Alaska Native Heritage Center.