Overview of Tanacross Athabascan

Tanana River at Tanacross
Tanana River at Tanacross (photo courtesy Rick Thoman)

The word Tanacross has been used to refer both to a village in eastern Alaska and to the language spoken there. A more appropriate term may be Dihthaad Xt'een Aandeg' The Mansfield People's Language, refering to the traditional village of Mansfield, north of Tanacross. (See more on the history of the name Tanacross.) The modern village of Tanacross is accessible by a short access road from the Alaska Highway, and some speakers now reside in the regional center of Tok, located approximately ten miles east of the village on the highway. In addition several speakers now reside in the nearest commercial center of Fairbanks, located two hundred miles downstream from Tanacross village and accessible by all-weather highway.

Tanacross is the ancestral language of the Mansfield-Ketchumstuk and Healy Lake-Joseph Village bands of Athabascan people, whose ancestral territory encompassed an area bounded by the Goodpaster River to the west, the Alaska Range to the south, the Fortymile and Tok Rivers to the east, and the Yukon Uplands to the north.

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