Dené (Athabaskan) Languages Conference

Bellingham, Washington

August 15-17, 2012

Painting of Lake Whatcom by Elizabeth Colborne Lake Whatcom, Washington, by Elizabeth Colborne [more info]

The 2012 Athabaskan/Dene Languages Conference will take place at Western Washington University, August 15-17.

Themes of this year's conference are verbal prefixation and revitalization of Athabaskan languages. Case studies of any aspect of the disjunct prefixes of understudied Athabaskan languages are particularly encouraged. It is requested that presenters familiarize themselves with the historical/comparative framework for verbal prefixation in Leer 2006 and take this as a point of departure.

The conference organizers gratefully thank the National Science Foundation, Arctic Social Sciences Program, for financial support for this conference.

The conference will be organized roughly as follows.

  • Aug 15 Descriptive studies
  • Aug 16 Revitalization
  • Aug 17 Comparative/historical studies


A tentative program can be downloaded here:

Selected papers and presentations can be accessed in advance of the conference here.

Note: There have been several updates to the program over the past week. If you encounter difficulty downloading the program, please try clearing your browser cache and reloading the page.

If no further changes are made to the current program, on day 1 the conference will begin mid-morning and on day 3 the conference will end mid-afternoon.


Presentations will be streamed live at and can be monitored by off-campus as well as on-campus participants who can also using the site to ask questions from remote locations via the provided chat function.

If you do not want your presentation to be part of the webcast, please let the conference organizers (Ed Vajda and Sharon Hargus) know.

The video stream will disconnect for the lunch break and begin 15 minutes before the afternoon sessions.

In order to ask a question of a presenter, you must first sign in. You can sign in with your existing Facebook or Twitter accounts, or create a new account on Ustream. When you click on the streaming URL, you will see a green bar, “Check in and chat”. Clicking on that will bring up a window to sign in with Ustream, Facebook or Twitter. If you don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account, select “Sign in with Ustream”. If you have no account, click on “No account? Sign up now.” If you want to just watch the questions as they come in, you don’t need to create an account.


On arrival at the conference you will be asked to pay a registration fee of $20, which will help subsidize the cost of conference refreshments, materials and operating costs.

Only cash, checks or money orders can be accepted (no debit or credit cards). Checks or money orders should be made out to "Western Washington University."

Registration for the conference will only take place on-site, at Western Washington University, on the days of the conference itself. (There is no online registration.) Registration will open approximately 1 hour before the first presentation of the day and will remain open all day during the conference. The conference will take place in Science Lecture Halls (SMAT) Building Room 140. A registration table will be set up just outside this room.

Parking at WWU

If you are parking on campus during the day, you may be able to find free street parking on Garden Street, High Street, or Indian Street - all just north or northwest of the campus, as shown on this map of parking lots and campus buildings. Building 43 on the map is SMAT (also known as Science Lecture Halls), where the conference will be held.

Rather than hunt for street parking, you may prefer to purchase a parking permit from Parking Services (in Campus Services, building 49 on the map), which will enable you to park relatively close to SMAT in parking lot 14G. The cost for a parking permit is $10/day. Parking Services hours are 7:15 AM to 4:30 PM.

If you are staying on campus in Highland Hall (building 28 on the map), you should request a permit for parking lot 15R. If you arrive at WWU after Parking Services has closed, use the 20-minute loading / unloading spots in 15R next to the dorm and then park overnight down the hill on one of the streets mentioned above. Or you can park overnight on the C lots shown on the map, but those are quite a bit further away from the dorm than the street parking mentioned above, and you will have to move your car by 7 a.m. or risk receiving a ticket.

In general, be careful about where you park on campus. There is a $25 fine for parking in a campus parking lot without a valid permit, and a $10 fine for not displaying your permit properly.

Travel and Accommodation

Horizon Air has daily flights to/from Bellingham from Seattle, Portland, Medford and Las Vegas. There are no direct flights between Vancouver BC and Bellingham. However, there is QuickShuttle, which offers bus service several times a day from Vancouver BC airport (YVR) and SeaTac (SEA), and a few other points in between, including Bellingham airport (BLI).

We have reserved Highland Hall, one of the dormitories on campus, for lodging for conference participants, August 14-17. Highland Hall is relatively close to where the conference will take place as well as to where meals can be purchased on-campus. Rooms contain two beds and can be reserved either single- or double-occupancy. Every two rooms forms a suite, which share a bathroom. The rate for single-occupancy is $31.80 per night, for double-occupancy $23.90 per person per night. Sales tax (8.7%) and occupancy tax (2%) will also be calculated and added. Sheets and towels will be provided for $21 (plus 8.7% sales tax) for the duration of the stay. You will have to make your own bed.

If you would like to reserve a room for all or part of August 14-17, please write to Madeline Espeseth (Apartments and Guest Housing): Madeline.Espeseth [at] You can let her know your arrival and departure dates and times, whether you would like single or double occupancy, who your preferred suite-made is, and any other needs you might have (such as mobility/accessibility, extra-long bed, etc.). She will then send you a link to CashNet so that you can pay for your housing.

Please reserve your on-campus housing by July 30 so that your room will be ready by the time the conference takes place. This is a busy time of year at WWU.

For off-campus housing, please see the list of lodging options provided by WWU with maps showing distances to campus.

Call for Papers

The call for papers closed June 15, 2012.


For more information contact the conferences organizers by email at:

  • Sharon Hargus (sharon [at]
  • Ed Vajda (edward.vajda [at]

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About the artwork on this site

The image featured on this year's conference site is from a painting entitled "Lake Whatcom, Washington" by Elizabeth Colborne (1885-1948), a Washington state artist. Martin 2011, a book containing photos of ‘Lake Whatcom, Washington’ and other artwork by Colborne, is available from The Whatcom Museum, Bellingham WA.

    Martin, David F. 2011. Evergreen Muse: The Art of Elizabeth Colborne. Bellingham WA: Whatcom Museum.