About the Summit
As Iñupiat/Inupiat, we have always known one other. These relationships are our inheritance. For millennia, we have travelled through our territories; indeed, many of our great-grand-relations were born in regions other than where many of our families reside now.
In this lifetime, we are largely settled; we live within new lines, ones that designate municipal boroughs or areas of stewardships by our regional corporations,. With that, we must evolve in other ways, including becoming intentional about continuing to know each other across the boundaries that have either been made for us, or that we’ve made for ourselves.
This means focusing on what we have in common, and not that which divides us, such as our Iñupiaq/Inupiat language. We envision creating a space where Iñupiat/Inupiaq will convene from wherever Iñupiat now reside, representing our families, communities, and namesakes first, with support from our organizations which continue to do incredible work for and behalf our people. This will be a time to come together as people and build the relationships we need to trust and respect each other when it comes to the long-term decision making of our shared language, because it is our shared language.
We are a collective who are passionate about our language, people and communities and are committed to helping our people thrive for generations to come. There are many who have come before us in this work, to perpetuate language, facilitate convenings, create materials and curriculum, and more. We honor this work and offer a continuation of these long standing efforts in drawing us all together for long-term planning, and the long-term health and vitality of our language, for millennia to come.
In May of 2018, the Iñupiaq/Inupiaq team at the UAF Alaska Native Language Revitalization Institute, in accordance with prior longstanding conversations by community members, identified the need to come together as one. As such, we as a collective are calling for a Summit, the first of its kind take place in Qikiqtaġruk (Kotzebue) in January of 2019 .
The Language Summit will be a working summit, a time to build relationships and grow respect for our regions and local speech styles, knowing that we have more in common than we do different and that for the long term sustainability of our language, we all need one another. Some of the needs identified in advance of the Summit include:
A comprehensive survey of Iñupiaq/Inupiaq speakers (the last one was 10 years ago)
The structuring of a master-apprentice program to provide a pathway for intermediate learners to go deeper in the language
The creation of an Iñupiaq/Inupiaq Institute, to continue efforts in a meaningful way
The creation of a Joint Commission for the Iñupiaq/Inupiaq language.