About the Archive
In order to support the Alaska Native Language Center's mission of documenting, promoting, cultivating, and revitalizing Alaska Native languages and culture, the Alaska Native Language Archive houses documentation of the various Native languages of Alaska and helps to preserve and cultivate this unique heritage for future generations. As the premier repository worldwide for information relating to the Native languages of Alaska, the Archive is responsible for conserving and facilitating access to documentation and resources on Alaska's 20+ Native languages, including through partnerships with Native organizations across the state. ANLA serves researchers, teachers and the Alaska Native communities.
The Alaska Native Language Archive was formally established as an independent entity in 2009, incorporating collections housed under the Alaska Native Language Center. Prior to the founding of the Alaska Native Language Center by state legislation in 1972, linguistic documentation had been undertaken by a wide range of individuals and institutions, and the results of this work were scattered in archives, libraries, and attics across the globe. These materials include original manuscripts from the Russian American era and wordlists collected by early arctic explorers. The Alaska Native Language Archive was created with the goal of consolidating these important materials in one location. In addition, the Archive serves as a repository for the growing body of educational materials being developed by Alaska Native speakers and linguists at ANLC.
In 2013, ANLA joined Rasmuson Library in dedicating its space to Michael E. Krauss, honoring the founder of the collection.
ANLA collections include both published and unpublished materials. Original records include linguistic field notes and audio and video recordings. Published materials include books, reprints, copies of materials held in other archives, and copies of Alaska Native Language Center publications. The Archive’s reference collection on the second floor of Rasmuson also houses published materials which support research with these collections. The uniqueness of this collection lies partly in this concentration of materials.
The collection also includes important documentation of the development of literacy and education in these Alaskan languages, including the development of writing systems, lesson plans, and educational materials.
The value of the materials housed in the Alaska Native Language Archive derives at least in part from the comprehensive nature of the collection. Hence, the Archive strives to acquire as many materials in and about Alaska Native languages as possible. However, the Archive also recognizes that sufficient resources may not be available in the future to maintain a comprehensive collection. With this in mind, several principles of acquisition prioritization have been established. Acquisition must balance potentially competing priorities along the essentially independent parameters of source language, content type, and publication status.
Priority is given to materials pertaining directly to the documentation of Alaska Native languages. Lesser priority is given to materials documenting related languages spoken entirely outside Alaska. For these purposes the term Alaska Native language is roughly defined as those indigenous languages spoken in Alaska at the time of European contact, as well as Tsimshian and Haida, which moved into the state more recently. For the purposes of archival acquisition, certain Russia varieties and creoles with a long history in Alaska may also be considered to be Alaska Native languages.
Priority will be given to documentary and pedagogical materials which relate directly to Alaska Native languages. Secondary priority will be given to materials which pertain to Alaska Native languages within a broader context (e.g., language classifications, language policy, history of language contact, pedagogical theory). Lowest priority will be given to materials deriving from Alaska Native languages but not containing any actual language information (e.g., English translations of Native language stories).
While the Archive strives to be comprehensive, a priority is placed on items which are not available in other collections, as follows in decreasing order of priority.
- Primary materials, especially unpublished manuscripts and field notes.
- “Grey” literature: locally-published materials with limited distribution, including self-published or mimeographed language teaching materials and readers. as well as reports to government agencies.
- Secondary materials, including copies of materials which exist in other collections which are not readily accessible to users of the Alaska Native Language Collection.
Audio and Video
The Archive does not actively acquire individual recordings but rather serves as a repository for substantial, significant collections relating to identified documentary or pedagogical projects.
The Archive does not accept acquisitions that exceed the institution’s capacity to care for, store, and provide access to collections. Every donation must be accompanied by a gift agreement and adequate background information (or metadata).
Access and Handling Policies
- ANLA’s stacks are closed; patrons are expected to make appointments with ANLA staff to view specific materials in the Alaska Polar Regions and Archives’ Research Room at Rasmsuon Library. APRCA’s Research Room is typically open Monday-Friday 10:00am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-4:00pm. Appointments must be made with ample advance notice. Materials may not leave the designated research space.
- ANLA’s Research Room policy is to provide a friendly environment that protects the material, taking its relative rarity and fragility into account, without overly restricting researchers. Visitors will conform to acceptable norms of behavior and abide by APRCA’s Research Room Policies, as well as any University policies (including indoor masking when applicable). Visitors should maintain courteous and respectful interactions with staff, and understand that staffing shortages may lead to longer retrieval times.
- In the event that a patron becomes aggressive, unruly, or disrespectful, the patron may be asked to leave the premises, and repeated offenses will result in increasing limits on in-person access, up to and including permanent restrictions.
- Patrons must respect the original state of archival materials: original order must be maintained, materials must be treated delicately, etc.
- Patrons are expected to do their own research: ANLA staff will help navigate the catalog, provide training on use of the catalog, and retrieve boxes of interest for the patron, but will not undertake research on behalf of the patron or go through boxes, files, or tapes to find items of interest.
- Patrons may request that ANLA provide digital surrogates of a reasonable range of undigitized, unrestricted, uncopyrighted materials within staff’s means. Patrons will be conscientious that ANLA staff may not be able to accommodate requests for high-resolution reproductions or reproductions of special formats; in such cases, such requests may be denied, or redirected to APRCA’s reproduction services.
- Some materials, such as cassettes, audio reels, and restricted records, are not available for handling or on-site use. Please direct reasonable audio digitization requests to ANLA staff.
- Unprocessed collections are normally not available for research use; however, if such a collection is requested by a researcher, a special arrangement may be made whereby the researcher assists in processing the collection, but this is only at the discretion of the Archive Director. Users handling unprocessed materials are expected to exercise special care to preserve these collections’ original order, and respect any sensitive, copyrighted, or exceptionally delicate materials encountered therein.
- ANLA’s Access and Handling Policies may change without notice.
- Please ask ANLA staff if you have any questions!
Today the Archive has grown to house more than 15,000 documents, including nearly everything written in or about any of the twenty Alaska Native languages. The Archive also contains a significant collection of audio recordings dating to the 1940’s, including some of the earliest recordings of Alaska Native languages. The comprehensive nature of the collection—bringing together unpublished manuscripts and copies of archival documents, as well as published materials—has been repeatedly recognized as unique and valuable.
The Archive is located on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is open to the public for research and educational purposes. Efforts are currently underway to increase access through digitization of audio and text materials. A container list is accessible online, and portions of the collection are accessible via web portals tailored to individual languages. The Archive also continues to partner with Native organizations to facilitate local access in remote regions.