Alaska Native Language Archive

Overview of Dena'ina Athabascan

James Kari and Mary Hobson
James Kari and Mary at a 2005 Dena'ina language workshop (photo by Gary Holton)

Dena'ina (formerly spelled Tanaina) is an Athabascan languages spoken in the   Cook Inlet region. Dena'ina is unique in that it is the only Alaska Athabascan language spoken in the coastal region. It is also the only Athabascan language which is spoken on both sides of the Alaska Range. Linguist James Kari has done extensive research with the Dena'ina language since 1972, and many  talented speakers have contributed to the documentation effort. Notable among these  are Shem Pete, a gifted orator, and Peter Kalifornsky, the most prolific Alaska Native language  author of the twentieth century.

There are four major Dena'ina dialect groupings.

dialect villages 
Upper Inlet  Eklutna, Knik, Susitna, Tyonek  
Outer Inlet   Kenai, Kustatan, Seldovia  
Iliamna   Pedro Bay, Old Iliamna, Lake Iliamna area  
Inland   Nondalton, Lime Village  

In addition to the the Dena'ina resources available in the Archive, many resources can also be accessed via the Dena'ina Qenaga web portal.