Guide to the Koyukon Athabaskan Language Collection


This collection is currently being cataloged. The container list displays just a few sample items. Thank you for your patience. [February 2, 2010]

Scope and Content Note
Koyukon is a single language spoken in three major dialects, Lower Koyukon (Kaltag and Nulato), Central Koyukon (Ruby, Galena, Koyukuk, Huslia, Hughes, Allakaket), and Upper Koyukon (some South Fork people at Allakaket, Stevens Village, some people at Tanana, Rampart, and Beaver, and with special variants by the Minchumina and Manley bands [now both extinct]). Of these, Upper Koyukon is the most distinct; the Prevost materials are in Upper Koyukon, but since then this dialect has been less documented than the others. No signal letters for dialects have been used in the call numbers, but notes in the body of entries refer to items in Upper Koyukon especially. The Koyukon population totals about 2500, and of these about 600, the youngest in their thirties, speak the language.

There is a large corpus of material, including many religious translations, in the Oregon Province Archives of the Society of Jesus at Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington. Those items most valuable for linguistics (e.g., the magnificent Jette dictionary) have been photocopied for this collection,
but the others are also listed in the catalog, though at the University of Alaska only on microfilm. The bibliographical work of Landar and Carriker (see Bibliography section) provides further useful guides to this material. In our citation we have been inconsistent in our grouping of entries for the Jesuit materials; the works of some authors have been cited individually, and those of others grouped by date or by subject. Furthermore, the dates of the materials are in some cases approximate, based only on our knowledge of the author's years of service in Alaska.

The present Koyukon practical orthography was developed first by 1964 and significantly revised several times, most recently in 1977. There is a substantial modern literature, especially educational, in the language.

The staff of the Gonzaga University archives have been very helpful in our efforts to locate and catalogue the material in this section especially. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Robert Carriker in this regard.