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Doyon Foundation’s Language Revitalization Committee

The Doyon Foundation board of directors created the language revitalization committee to guide the development of the language revitalization program and subsequent language projects.

This committee represents shareholders, descendants and tribal members from the region’s nine languages. It meets monthly and is composed of Doyon Foundation board members and volunteer community members, who have expertise and interest in language revitalization.

Paul Mountain, Chair, Doyon Foundation board member

Paul Mountain, Chair, Denaakk'e (Koyukon), Doyon Foundation board member
Paul Mountain is a Lower Koyukon Athabascan from Nulato. Paul attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he received a bachelor’s of arts degree in linguistics with a minor in Alaska Native languages in 1991. Paul’s travels have taken him from Nulato to Fairbanks, Anchorage, Galena, Kotzebue and a long stint in Seattle. After these travels, Paul moved back home and is now the tribal administrator at Nulato Tribal Council.

Rochelle Adams, Gwich’in

Rochelle Adams, Gwich’in
Rochelle Adams is a member of the Gwich'in nation from the villages of Fort Yukon and Beaver. Her parents are Angela Peter and Cliff Adams, Jr. Her maternal grandparents are Susie (Lord) and Johnny Peter, Sr. Her paternal grandparents are Hannah "Babe" (VanHatten) and Clifford Adams, Sr. She is the mother of Amaya, Koso Naazhrii and Łeeyadaakhan. Her educational experience includes the Institute of American Indian Arts and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is a current graduate student working toward her master’s of arts in applied linguistics. Rochelle has dedicated much of her life to language and cultural efforts on many levels. She is passionate about creating healthy communities through decolonization and revitalization of indigenous language, art and culture. She currently lives in Anchorage, where she is the cultural enrichment specialist for the Anchorage School District Indian Education Department. She is excited to be a part of the Doyon Foundation language committee and looks forward to a positive change for the future of our people.

Shyanne Beatty, Han

Shyanne Beatty, Hän
Shyanne Beatty is Hän Hwech’in Athabascan from Eagle, where she grew up living a subsistence lifestyle with her family. She is married to Aaron Leggett, who is Dena’ina Athabascan. She is currently the network manager for Native Voice One, which distributes Native radio programming to stations throughout North America, Canada, Australia and Guam. Passionate about sharing her culture and language, Shyanne currently serves as president of the Alaska Native Heritage Month Committee, and volunteers for the Alaska Native Heritage Center’s Athabascan Cultural Advisory Committee. She also helped to start the Alaska Native Visionary Awards, which recognize people who perpetuate their culture and traditions in new and innovative ways.

LaVerne Demientieff, Deg Xinag, Doyon Foundation board member

LaVerne Demientieff, Deg Xinag, Doyon Foundation board member
LaVerne Demientieff is the daughter of the late Rudy and Alice (Frank) Demientieff of Holy Cross and Anvik, Alaska, and the granddaughter of Stanley Demientieff and Edith Bifelt and Joe Frank and Marcia Reed. LaVerne is Deg Xit’an, Athabascan on her mother’s side and Koyukon Athabascan, Yupik and Russian on her father’s side. Born in Fairbanks, Alaska, she was raised in the small roadside town of Nenana and in the big city of Anchorage, as well as at her family's fish camp along the Yukon River. LaVerne graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) with her bachelor’s in social work and went on to receive her master’s in social work from Washington University in St. Louis, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, with a concentration in social and economic development and with an emphasis in management. She is currently working toward a PhD in social work from the University of Utah, College of Social Work. LaVerne is currently working as a clinical associate professor for UAF’s bachelor’s of social work program; she is also a licensed master social worker through the State of Alaska.

Elizabeth Keating, Holikachuk

Elizabeth Keating, Holikachuk
Elizabeth Keating grew up in Holikachuk, and currently resides in Anchorage. Her parents are Louise Andre and Paul Keating, and she is the granddaughter of Chief Alexie his wife and Lizzie. “Language is critical and essential to Native tradition and culture, and gives meaning to life and the subsistence way,” she said. Elizabeth grew up amid a rich tradition of songs and language. She earned her bachelor’s of arts in administration from Western Washington University and a master’s of arts in community psychology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She has previously served as the executive director for Fairbanks Native Association (1981-88), Tanana Chiefs Conference (1978-79) and the Seattle Indian Center (1971-74).

Beth Leonard, Deg Xinag

Beth Leonard, Deg Xinag
Beth Leonard is Deg Hit’an (Dene/Athabascan) and a member of the Shageluk Tribe of Interior Alaska. Her father is James Dementi, who was raised in the traditional Athabascan subsistence lifestyle. Her mother is the late Rev. Jean Dementi, originally from California. Beth is an associate professor of indigenous studies with the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her interests include Athabascan oral traditions and languages, and indigenous research methodologies. Beth is pictured here with her father, James Dementi, at the 2013 Alaska Native Studies Conference in Anchorage.

Cherie Marunde, Née'aaneegn' (Upper Tanana)

Cherie Marunde, Née'aaneegn' (Upper Tanana)
Cherie is an Upper Tanana Athabascan who is a lifelong resident of Northway, Alaska. She is the daughter of Mary Jane Albert of Northway, and the granddaughter of Oscar Albert of Northway and Mary Luke of Tetlin, Alaska. Cherie was born and raised at fish camp in Northway and is a trapper and fisherman of her family’s traditional and cultural areas. Preserving the Upper Tanana language has been a key goal of Cherie’s for many years. She has participated in University of Alaska Fairbanks Upper Tanana language courses with linguist Paul Milanowski. She has most recently been an integral member of language revitalization in Northway by recording words that haven’t yet been captured and facilitating the building of a set of Upper Tanana children’s language books with her community. Cherie has worked as a United States Post Master for 23 years. Her hobbies are language preservation, photography, reading and traditional sewing.

Stephanie Moe, Tanacross

Stephanie Moe, Dihthâad Xt'een lin aandӗg' (Tanacross)
Stephanie Summer Moe, whose Native name is Shdéhtląą Dadegdíix (I want to learn), is from Tanacross (Tats'áltęy) and currently lives in Chistochina. Her clan and where they come from is Dik'aagyu Dihthâad Xt'een Iin. Her maternal grandparents are Kenneth and Ellen Thomas, Sr. of Tanacross; her paternal grandparents are Kenneth and Florida Moe of Fairbanks/Beaver; her mother is Nancy Thomas (Brian Allen) of Tanacross; and her father is Kenneth Moe of Fairbanks. Stephanie joined the committee in August 2015 because she believes “Our languages are who we are. Languages give us an identity of the knowledge, culture, ideas, beliefs, and customs of our ancestors. The revitalization of languages to me means the giving of life to and protection of our identity while adapting to our changing environment for the benefit of future generations.” Stephanie is a senior in the University of Alaska Fairbanks rural development degree program with a concentration in community business and economics. She also provides administrative support at Mt. Sanford Tribal Consortium.

Sonta Roach, Doyon Foundation board member

Sonta Roach, Deg Xinag, Doyon Foundation board member
Sonta Roach, of Shageluk, is employed in Shageluk as an elementary teacher and previously worked as the director of Future Educators of Alaska. Sonta owns her own businesses for grant writing, facilitation, and environmental program management. She received a bachelor’s degree in rural development from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a master's in elementary education at the University of Alaska Southeast. She also serves on the Doyon, Limited board of directors.

Vera Weiser, Lower Tanana

Vera Weiser, Benhti Kenaga' (Lower Tanana)
Vera E. Weiser is originally from Minto and now resides in Fairbanks. She is the daughter of Sarah Silas and the late Rev. Berkman Silas. Her maternal grandparents are the late Justin and Lucy Frank, and her paternal grandparents are the late Louie and Susie Silas. She and her husband, Eric J. Weiser, have two sons, Martin and Julian Weiser. “My mother is one of the last fluent speakers of the Lower Tanana dialect in its older traditional form,” said Vera, who began serving on the language committee in November 2015. “I don’t want to let the language fade away so I’m doing my part to revive Lower Tanana dialect.” Vera’s language activities include working with Siri Tuttle from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) language department to find recordings of the dialect in the university archives, and collecting Dragh tagh culic (mourning songs) to transpose and learn to sing so that she can pass it on to others. Vera holds a bachelor’s of arts in secondary education from UAF, and a master’s in school counseling from Northern Arizona University. She recently applied to UAF and plans to pursue a master’s degree in applied linguistics. Vera, who retired in May 2012, previously worked as an educator in Yukon-Koyukuk School District, Fairbanks North Star School District, Chatham School District, and the Lower Yukon School District.

For more information on Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program, please contact Allan Hayton at haytona@doyon.com or 907.459.2162.