Upper Inlet Dena'ina Lessons

Sava Stephan, Sr.

Sava Stephan was born in 1920 in Susitna Station. Sava grew up speaking the Dena’ina language, and to this day he processes his thoughts in Dena’ina. 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). Sava passed away in 2013. You can read a biography of Mr. Stephan here.

A Message from Sava Stephan

You can listen to the whole message here, or you can listen to it sentence by sentence below.

Tell them that I thank them
and I like to see them all the time when they coming.
Talk to me, and I talk back to them, speak to them and everything else.
I thank them for that.

Chin’an hech’ qeshnash hu
I am thankful if I can talk this way to you,

shch’ qenadelghesh ch’u.
and you can talk to me.

Shi k’a hech’ qeshnish, hech’ qeshnash shu,
If I can talk to you as I customarily speak,

Chiqinik gheli shtunutghelggesh dghu.
I would be very thankful when I leave.

That’s all.