Guide to the Tlingit Language Collection

Scope and Content Note

Tlingit is a single language with easy mutual intelligibility from one extreme at Ketchikan to the other at Yakutat. The two southernmost dialects, only recently discovered and nearly extinct, Tongass and Saanyaa-Heinyaa, have nonetheless been signaled in the call numbers (T = Tongass, S = Saanyaa-Heinyaa) because of the archaic vowel modification system of the former and the three- tone system of the latter, which make them especially important for historical  and comparative study. The present Tlingit population numbers around 10,000, in the communities of Yakutat, Klukwan, Haines, Hoonah, Sitka, Angoon, Juneau,  Kake, Petersburg, Wrangell, Klawock, Craig, Saxman, and Ketchikan in Alaska, and Atlin, Teslin, and Whitehorse in Canada. Of these perhaps 375 speak the language, the youngest (at Angoon) in their fifties in 2010.

There has been a remarkable amount of work on Tlingit bibliography in the mid-1970's, by Dauenhauer, Pinnow, and Krauss. Most of the initial cataloging of work from the 1970's was done by Dauenhauer, especially for his and Nora Dauenhauer's work and Leer's work 1970-75. We have relied heavily upon his bibliography in this catalog, although his entries have been rewritten and many items have been grouped or regrouped for convenience. Pinnow's work is most important for its discussion of comparative studies, some of which will 'be found in the Comparative Athabaskan section of this catalog; however, some of the items in Pinnow have not been included in our catalog, especially much of the secondary literature and most of the literature relating Tlingit (Na-Dene) to Asiatic languages.

We would also like to express our thanks to Gillian Story and Constance Naish, who have patiently and helpfully provided us with copies of their material and who have reviewed the portion of the catalog relating to it.

Naish and Story developed the modern practical orthography for Tlingit  in the early 1960's. This orthography underwent an important revision in 1972. A considerable literature has developed in the language.

The Tlingit bibliography is probably quite complete for primary sources through the early 1970's, although it will be noted that a number of items in the Dauenhauer collection are cited but not in our collection. Some recent local school materials may not yet have been received for inclusion.