Alaska Native Languages
Population and Speaker Statistics
The following table gives estimates of the population of speakers of Alaska Native languages in reference to the relevant community population. Numbers such as these should be interpreted with caution. As Krauss notes:
- Arriving at statistics of number of speakers of indigenous languages out of total relevant population is complicated by two types of major factors. The first type is of course in the determination of who is a speaker, and the second is in counting who is a member of the indigenous community. (2007:409)
More relevant to those wishing to understand the status of Alaska Native languages are the current and recent efforts at language documentation and revitalization.
The column labeled EGIDS refers to the Expanded Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale, an attempt to measure language vitality by assessing how the language is used. The Alaska Native Language Center did not participate in these assessment and does not endorse them. They are provided as useful reference metrics. Because EGIDS has been applied across it can be used to compare language vitality in Alaska with that of other indigenous languages across the world. More information about EGIDS and language endangerment can be found on the Ethnologue website.
|Eskimo-Aleut||Ungangan (Aleut)||2,300||150||7 (shifting)|
|Sugpiaq (Alutiiq)||3,500||200||7 (shifting)|
|Central Yup'ik||25,000||10,400||6b (threatened)|
|Siberian Yupik||1,400||1,000||4 (educational)|
|Inupiaq (Inuit)||15,700||2,144||6b (threatened)|
|Tsimshianic||Coast Tsimshian||1,400||30||7 (shifting)|
|Haida||Northern Haida||650||10||7 (shifting)|
|Deg Xinag||250||14||8a (moribund)|
|Holikachuk||180||5||8b (nearly extinct)|
|Upper Kuskokwim||100||25||8a (moribund)|
|(Lower) Tanana||400||25||8a (moribund)|
|Upper Tanana||300||55||7 (shifting)|
|Han||60||12||8b (nearly extinct)|
Source: Krauss, Michael E. 2007. Native languages of Alaska. In: The Vanishing Voices of the Pacific Rim, ed. by Osahito Miyaoko, Osamu Sakiyama, and Michael E. Krauss. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Table 21.1, page 408)
*The non-Alaskan numbers in the table come from the earlier work of Krauss 1997.
†Tlingit updated November 2013 (Twitchell, p.c.).