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Dena’ina Language Curriculum

Wanda Reams is currently working for the Kenaitze Indian Tribe developing language curriculum and materials under their ANA Grant. Wanda’s curriculum and language materials are available in the Dena’ina Qenaga Digital Archive (Dena’ina Language Lessons, Ch’aduch’ Q’u Qiz’un?, Shdesnaqa’ Bacha’ina, Ggagga Dghili Jenghiyu).

Excerpts from the lessons are shown below. Each lesson includes an objective, materials needed, vocabulary, references, the lesson plan and corresponding activities. The excerpts have been modified from the original, although the content remains intact.

If you are interested in making your Dena’ina Language Materials available on this website, please email .

Adult Lessons

The Adult Lessons are a set of introductory lessons inncluding lessons on the sound system with sound chart, greetings, introductions, chi words, body parts, weather, family and numbers. Below is an excerpt of a lesson on introductions:

###Lesson 1-C- Dena’ina Introduction

Objective: TLW (The learner will) hear Dena’ina and demonstrate understanding by repeating the given sounds (words). Materials needed: Display of introduction on poster board, large posters of father/mother/grandfather/grandmother with Dena’ina word below. Computer with internet capabilities, Kenai-Dena’ina Sound System and Vocabulary by Dr. Boraas, Kenai Key Words by Dr. Kari.

Age: adult

  1. In the Dena’ina way it is proper to introduce oneself before conversation. This lesson contains the necessary elements for a formal Dena’ina introduction. The introductions let the elders know who you are in relation to your parents and the community.
  2. Teacher introduces themself in Dena’ina.
  3. 3. Have each individual listen, record and repeat their introduction. (Teacher may need to record the introduction for the learner.)
  4. Others listen and practice quietly.
  5. We will begin all remaining classes with our formal introductions
  6. Have students break up into pairs and listen to each other introduce themselves.
  7. Gather students together again.
  8. Teach Dena’ina song for the day.
  9. Q’u shi cha. ( "That’s all.''?)

Note: At the start of each remaining class have each student introduce themselves in Dena’ina.

Dena’ina English References
Shi shi da I am part of a group PH2003
(your name) (your name)
Shi’izhi That is what I am called. OM 1.2; PH2003
Dena’ina ełan shi da I am Dena’ina Indian. OM 1.3; PH2003
Kahtnuht’ana ełan shida I am Kenaitze. PH2003; JK-t p.62
Kahtnu shu gu shqayeh I am from the Kenai River Village. OM 1.19/JK-t p.158; PH2003

Modified from Dena’ina Language Institute Oral Lessons by Pauline Hobson, 2003 funded under a Dept of Education Grant #5356A040011 through Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC)

Children's Lessons

The children's lessons incorporate more activities and games into the lessons. While basic vocabulary such as greetings and numbers are taught, a large number of the lessons use traditional stories as a basis for the lessons. Below is an excerpt from a lesson using Beluga Story

Qunshi Uquch’el’ani Lesson
Objective: TLW (The learner will) gain understanding of Dena’ina sounds, words, story and culture by listening to a Dena’ina story told by Peter Kalifornsky. TLW demonstrate understanding of the story by retelling and acting out the story. Materials needed: recording of Peter Kalifornsky telling the “Beluga Story’’? from A Dena’ina Legacy: K’TL’EGH’I SUKDU. Dena’ina coloring book of Beluga story, Blank copy of story for children to illustrate. Age: children (2nd - 5th grade)

  1. Ask children to sit nearby (Igushla nitsut.)
  2. Introduce speaker and story. "I am going to share with you a story (Sukdu) from a very important Dena’ina man. Peter Kalifornsky, one of my uncle’s, shared this story, and many other stories, so our language would be preserved. This is a book that holds many Dena’ina words and stories. On the cover is a picture of Peter Kalifornsky.''?
  3. Play tape.
  4. Ask children to act out the story with you.
  5. Choose characters: hunter,whale, the people (repeat story with different characters)
  6. Hand each child a book without illustrations. They will illustrate over the course of several days (one page/day) Each day they will listen to the story as they illustrate. After the first day you could ask them to repeat the phrases they hear, pausing tape to allow them to repeat the phrases. By the time they are done illustrating the book they will be able to correctly pronounce the Dena’ina phrases and read their book on their own.
  7. Conference with each child to see illustrations and listen to their book. Assist them as needed. Evaluate if they have mastered Dena’ina pronunciation of the book.
Dena’ina English
Un Come
Gganilchit Stand up
Nitsut Sit down
Igushla Nearby
Q’u shi cha We’re done (breaktime)
Gadashdinex geshnax gu. Listen to me talk.