M. Krauss, Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator Michael Krauss in the UAF IPY office. Photo by M. Kehrhahn-Stark 2009.

Michael E. Krauss (b. 1934)  is a linguist who has worked extensively on the Na-Dene' language family, especially on Proto-Athabaskan, pre-proto-Athabaskan, the Eyak language, and also numerous other Athabaskan and Eskimo-Aleut languages.

With his 1991 address to the Linguistic Society of America, Krauss was among the first to create an awareness of the global problem of endangered languages.  He has since worked tirelessly to encourage the documentation and re-vitalization of endangered language across the world.

Krauss, Professor Emeritus, joined the faculty of the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1960 and served as director fo the Alaska Native Language Center from its inception in 1972 until his retirement in June 2000. He remains active in efforts to document Alaska's Native languages and encourages awareness of the global problem of endangered languages.


Born 15 August, 1934.

Married 1962 to Jane Lowell (1934-2003), six children.

Married 2006 to Molly Lee


Higher Education:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1969-70 (linguistic theory).

University of Iceland 1958-60, Baccalaureatus philologiae Islandicae 1960.

Harvard University 1957-58, Ph.D. 1959 (linguistics and Celtic, disserta­tion “Studies in Irish Gaelic Phonology and Orthography”).

Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies 1956-57, Research Fellow.

University of Paris 1955-56, Certificat d’études supérieures 1956.

Columbia University 1954-55, M.A. 1955 (linguistics and Romance philology).

Western Reserve University 1953-54, B.A. 1954 (Romance languages).

University of Chicago 1950-53, B.A. 1953 (liberal arts).


Professional Positions and Experience:

University of Alaska, 1960 to present:

Carnegie Visiting (Assistant) Professor of Linguistics, 1960-1962;

Associate Professor of Linguistics 1962-68;

Professor of Linguistics, 1968-2000

Professor Emeritus, 2000-.

Head, Department of Linguistics and Foreign Languages, 1961-64;

            Head, Alaska Native Language Program, 1972-2000;

Director, Alaska Native Language Center, 1972-2000.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1969-70: Visiting Professor of Linguistics (on sabbatical leave from University of Alaska).

National Science Foundation Linguistics panel member, 1981-84.

International Journal of American Linguistics, Editorial Board member, 1982-2003.

Arctic Anthropology, Editorial Board member, 1989-.

President, Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas, 1991.

Chairman, Committee on Endangered Languages, Linguistic Society of America, 1991-93.

Member, UNESCO Committee on Language Endangerment, 1992-93.


Honors, Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants:

Linguistics Society of America named fellow at its 83rd Annual Meeting, 2009

Alaska Federation of Natives, Denali Award for contribution to the development of Native communities’ culture, economy and health, 2008

State of Alaska, Governor’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities, 2002

Alaska Humanities Forum, Distinguished Humanist of the Year 1981

National Endowment for the Humanities grants, principal investigator: research for and preparation of major dictionaries of eleven Alaska Native Languages, 1978-1983; for development of Yupik Eskimo Teaching Grammar, 1969; Alaska Native Writers Project, 1974-76; Alaska Native Language Center Library Catalog 1976-1977, 1981-82.

National Science Foundation research grants, principal investigator: basic research on Athabaskan and Eyak linguistics in Alaska 1961-68; St. Lawrence Island Yupik 1970-71; Alaskan Dictionary Project 1978-81 and 1982-84.

Fulbright Travel and Study Grant, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, 1958-60. Halldór Kiljan Laxness Fellowship, Scandinavian-American Foundation, for study in Iceland, 1958-59.

George C. Shattuck Fellowship, Harvard University, 1957-58.

Research Fellowship, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1956-57 (fieldwork on Inis Meadhóin, Co. Galway).

Boursier du Gouvernement français, 1955-56.

Fields of Interest

Minority/Endangered/Northern languages; Language Policies and Political Context; Documentation and Preservation of Languages; Historical Records and Resources


Specific Language Areas of Interest : Celtic (especially Irish Gaelic); Scandinavian (especially Icelandic and Faroese); Eyak; Athabaskan (especially Tanana, Han, and all other Alaskan; Comparative Athabaskan; Tsetsaut, Beaver, Chilcotin, Kwalhioqua-Tlatskanai,Plains Apache); Eskimo-Aleut (especially Central Siberian Yupik, Naukan, Sirenikski; Kurile Aleut)


Research and Related Activities:

Fieldwork survey of Alaskan Athabaskan languages 1961-63 and occasionally since; fieldwork on and analysis of Eyak, 1963-; much unpublished material and study on Athabaskan, comparative Athabaskan, and Eyak; preparation of the Eyak Texts and Eyak Dictionary occupied most of research time 1963-69. Fieldwork on St. Lawrence Island Yupik 1971-2 and occasionally since; fieldwork on Naukan Yupik 1985, 1996.

Research on and teaching of Eskimo at the University of Alaska, 1961-1963, occasionally since; program being continued and further developed by E.I. Reed, S.A. Jacobson, and others.

Since 1970 involvement in statewide programs in support of all Alaska Native Languages, administrative, organizational, and political work, resulting in bilingual education legislation, creation of Alaska Native Language Center, development of orthographies and beginning litera­tures; literacy workshops throughout Alaska for Tlingits, Haidas, Atha­baskans, Eskimos, Aleuts; training of Alaska Natives for professional level work with own languages; coordination with work in Denmark-Greenland, Canada, and USSR/Russia.

Assembling and archiving, and bibliographical work on comprehensive collection of all materials, published and unpublished, in or on Alaska Native languages.

Coordinator of exchange of Eskimo-Aleut language materials with U.S.S.R. (ACLS-ANSSSR), academic and diplomatic work for reestablishing communication between Soviet and Alaskan Eskimos.

Editor, Alaska Native Language Center Research Papers, seven volumes published 1979-1985.

Principal Investigator and general editor, major dictionaries of Alaskan languages (Central Yup'ik, Alutiiq, Siberian Yupik, Aleut, Inupiaq, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, Koyukon, Ahtna, Tanaina), in progress.

Founding Chair, Linguistic Society of America Committee on Endangered Languages 1991-1994.


Publications, Books and Papers (since 1964):

“Proto-Athabaskan-Eyak and the Problem of Na-Dene I: Phonology” I(nternational) J(ournal of) A(merican) L(inguistics) 30.118-131 (1964).

“Proto-Athabaskan-Eyak and the Problem of Na-Dene II: Morphology” IJAL 31.18-28 (1965).

“Eyak: a Preliminary Report” Canadian Journal of Linguistics 10.167-186 (1965).

“Noun-classification Systems in Athabaskan, Eyak, Tlingit, and Haida Verbs” IJAL 34.193-203 (1968).

On the Classifiers in the Athabaskan, Eyak, and Tlingit Verb (Memoir 24, Indiana University Publications in Anthropology and Linguistics) 1969.

Eyak Texts (912 pp. typescript texts, translations, notes), MIT, 1970.

Eyak Dictionary (ca. 4,000 pp., typescript), MIT, 1970.

“Eskimo-Aleut” Current Trends in Linguistics, Vol. X (North America), The Hague, 1973. Pp. 796-902. Report on all linguistic and developmental work done on Eskimo and Aleut languages since 1945 in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, U.S.S.R., with full bibliography.

“Na-Dene” Current Trends in Linguistics, Vol. X (North America), The Hague, 1973. Pp. 903-908. Report on all linguistic work done in Haida, Tlingit, Eyak, and all Athabaskan languages since 1945, with full bibliography.

“E. S. Rubtsova” IJAL 40.44-46 (1974). Necrology.

“St. Lawrence Island and Siberian Eskimo Literature” ANLC, typescript, 1974. 44 pp. Report on all books and materials printed in the U.S.S.R. for Soviet Eskimos (1932-1965) and in Alaska for St. Lawrence Islanders.

Minto-Nenana Noun Dictionary preliminary version, ANLC, 1974. 56 pp.

Native Peoples and Languages of Alaska , ANLC, 1974 (full color map, 3' x 4'); second edition, revised, ANLC, 1982.

“St. Lawrence Island Eskimo Phonology and Orthography” Linguistics 152.40-72 (1975). Analysis of the sounds of the language and report on development of writing systems for it in Alaska 1910-72 and the U.S.S.R. 1932-56.

“Proto-Athabaskan Fricatives and the First Person Singular” typescript, 1975. 60 pp.

“Proto-Athabaskan-Eyak Kinship Terms” typescript, 1975. 40 pp.

“Chilcotin Phonology: A descriptive and historical report with recommendations for an orthography” typescript, 1975. 55 pp.

(with E. I. Reed, 0. Miyaoka, S. Jacobson and P. Afcan) Yup'ik Eskimo Grammar Alaska Native Language Center and Yup'ik Language Workshop, Fairbanks, 1977. 329 pp.

“The Eskimo Languages in Alaska, Yesterday and Today” In Bjarne Basse and Kirsten Jensen, eds., Eskimo Languages: Their Present-day Conditions Aarhus, 1979. pp.37-50. Danish version “Eskimo sprogene i Alaska i fortid og nutid” in Eskimosprogenes vilkår i dag Aarhus 1979. Pp.37-50.

“Eskimo-Aleut and Na-Dene” in Lyle Cambell and Marianne Mithun, eds., The Languages of Native America: Historical and Comparative Assessments Austin and London: Univ. of Texas Press, 1979. Pp. 803-901.

“Athabaskan Tone” typescript, 1979. 63 pp.

Alaska Native Languages, a Bibliographical Catalogue, Part I: Indian Languages Alaska Native Language Research Paper No.3, 1980. 455 pp.

Alaska Native Languages: Past, Present, and Future Alaska Native Language Center Research Paper No.4, 1980. 110 pp.

“On the History and Use of Comparative Athabaskan Linguistics” typescript, 1980. 63 pp.

(with J.A. Leer) Athabaskan, Eyak, and Tlingit Sonorants Alaska Native Language Center Research Paper No. 5, 1981. 210 pp.

(with Vera Oovi Kaneshiro) St. Lawrence Island Yupik Short and Long Vowels, ANLC 1981, 27 pp.

(with V. K. Golla) “Northern Athapaskan Languages” in W. C. Sturtevant, General Editor, June Helm, Volume Editor, Handbook of North American Indians Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 1981. Pp. 67-85.

“Alaska Native Languages: Past, Present, and Future” 51 pp., presented at US-USSR Symposium, Leningrad, May 1979, published as “Yazyki korennogo naseleniya Alyaski: Proshloe, nastoyashchee i budushchee” in Traditsionnye Kul’tury Severnoy Sibiri i Severnoy Ameriki Moscow, 1981. Pp. 149-181.

“Proto-Athabaskan *k in Chipewyan, 1742-1800: Philological evidence” IJAL 48.73-82 (1982).

In Honor of Eyak: The Art of Anna Nelson Harry edited with translations and critical commentary. ANLC, 1982. 165 pp.

“For G. A. Menovshchikov” Etudes/Inuit/Studies 6(1).127-129 (1982).

"Slavey Jargon: the diffusion of French in Northern Athabaskan", typescript, 1983. 20 pp.

"Introduction" (and phonology) pp. 6-9 in Ridley, R. Eagle Han Huch'inn Hòdök, ANLC 1983.

Yupik Eskimo Prosodic Systems: Descriptive and Comparative Studies Alaska Native Language Center Research Paper No.7, 1985. 216 pp. Editor of volume and author of Introduction 1-6; “A History of the Study of Yupik Prosody” 7-23; “Supplementary Notes on Central Siberian Yupik Prosody” 47-50; “Sirenikski and Naukanski” 174-190, and Bibliography 211-216.

“Russian Ikra ‘Caviar; Calf of Leg’ and Similar Pairs in Athabaskan-Eyak” IJAL 51:485-6 (1985).

“Phonograph Cylinder Recordings of 1909-1910 by Jochelson and the Aleut Text Corpus” Proceedings of the International Symposium on B. Pi ¬sudski’s Phonographic Records and the Ainu Culture Sapporo, 1985. Pp.203-213.

“A Survey of Major Alaskan Language Types” in Lehmann, W.P. ed. Language Typology 1985: Papers from the Linguistic Typology Symposium, Moscow, 9-13 December 1985. Amsterdam: Benjamins 1986 pp.169-185.

“Edward Sapir and Athabaskan Linguistics” Sapir Centennial Proceedings Ottawa, 1986. pp. 177-228.

“The Position of Naukan in Yupik” ANLC, typescript, 1986. 20 pp.

“Typology and Change in Alaskan Languages“ in Lehmann, W. ed Papers from the U.S.–U.S.S.R. Linguistic Typology Symposium, Berkeley, 1987. Amsterdam: Benjamins pp. 147-156.

"The Name Athabaskan" in Faces, Voices and Dreams pp. 105-109, Division of Alaska State Museums, Sitka, 1987.

“Many Tongues–Ancient Tales” in Fitzhugh, W.F. and A. Crowell Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska, Smithsonian Instititute Press, Washington D.C. 1988 pp.144-150.

"Alaska-Chukotka Language Connections" in Circum-Pacific Prehistory Conference (Proceedings V), 1989. Washington State University Press.

(Editor) "Ataasiighutelleq Kaangqugenka Amarankuk Sovietski-nkuk Ataasiighutellghak Yugitnum Ukumllu Tespamanillu Laalighqwaaghutelleghqiitneng Bering-em Aghviqani," by Linda Womkon Badten and Svetlana Taghyuq [published without permission or attribution under the title] "Une Entente américano-soviétique/A Soviet-American Agreement" in Etudes/Inuit/Studies 13:2.117-131, 1989 [1990].

"History of Russian-Soviet Eskimo-Aleut Linguistics and Foreign Relations", Inuit Studies Conference, Fairbanks, typescript, 1990. 4 pp.

"Alaska Native Languages in Russian America," in Russian America: The Forgotten Frontier pp.205-214, Washington State Historical Society, 1990.

"Kwalhioqua and Clatskanie" in Handbook of North American Indians Vol.7, pp.530-532, Smithsonian Institution 1990.

Foreword to Unangam Ungiikangin Kayux Tunusangin/Unangam Uniikangis ama Tunuzangis/Aleut Tales and Narratives, pp. xii-xv (ed. Knut Bergsland and Moses Dirks), Alaska Native Language Center, 1990.

Statement in Hearingbefore the Select Subcommittee on Indian Affairs, U.S. Senate... on S.1595, October 19, 1991, U.S.G.P.O. 1992, pp. 17-23, 71-72.

"The World's Languages in Crisis" Language 68.1:4-10, 1992.

"A Loss for Words" Earthwatch 11:3.10-12, March/April, 1992.

Statement in Hearingbefore the Select Subcommittee on Indian Affairs, U.S. Senate... on S.2044, June 18, 1992, U.S.G.P.O. 1992, pp. 18-22, and Report in Calendar No.569, July 27, 1992.

Ode' Setl'oghwnh Da'/Long After I Am Gone/Stories by Teddy Charlie , Alaska Native Language Center 1992 [xiv] + 26 pp. Original transcription, and Foreword [ix]-xi by Michael Krauss.

"General Assembly Resolution", August 14, 1992, Permanent International Committee of Linguists, UNESCO (M.K. actual author), New Language Planning Newsletter, 8.1:3, 1992.

"Status of Eskimo Languages in World Perspective", in Language and Educational Policy in the North (ed. N. Graburn), Berkeley, 1992.

"The Language Extinction Catastrophe Just Ahead: Should Linguists Care?" Actes du XVe Congrès International des Linguistes, pp. 43-46, Québec, 1993.

"Gengo zetsumetsu no kiki mokuzen ni semaru – wareware gengogakusha wa nani o nasubeki ka" (Japanese translation of variant of above), Gengo, August 1993, pp. 12-17.

"Eskimo-Aleut Family" Encyclopedia of the North American Colonies Scribners 1993, vol. III pp. 53-56.

"Athabaskan" ibid, pp. 51-53.

"Language Endangerment" (published in Japanese) in Gengo no Kiki, pp. 249-263, 1993.

"The Earliest Recorded Alaskan Eskimo Word [kuxta 1732]”, ANLC, typescript 1993. 14 pp.

"Crossroads?: A Twentieth-Century History of Contacts across the Bering Strait" in Anthropology of the North Pacific Rim, pp. 365-379, Smithsonian Institution, 1994.

"Language Endangerment" in Languages of the North Pacific Rim (Hokkaido University Publications in Linguistics, No.7) pp. 283-293, 1994.

"Sirenikski Y- and Proto-Eskimo *Ñ-" Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 27.2:323-341, 1994.

"Language Loss in Alaska, the United States, and the World" in Frame of Reference (Alaska Humanities Forum) 6.1, 1995, pp. 1, 3-5.

Inuit Nunait – Nunangit Yuget (color wall map of Eskimo-Aleut world 36" x 64"), ANLC 1995.

"The Russian Language in Alaska and in Alaska Native Languages" in Atlas of Languages of Intercultural Communication II.1:1209-1212 de Gruyter, Berlin 1996.

"The Status of Native American Language Endangerment" in Stabilizing Indigenous Languages, pp. 16-21, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, 1996.

"Linguistics and Biology: Threatened Linguistic and Biological Diversity Compared" Chicago Linguistic Society CLS 32, pp. 69-75, 1996.

"The Indigenous Languages of the North: A Report on their Present State" pp. 1-34 (lead article) in H. Shoji (ed.) Northern Minority Languages (Senri Ethn. Studies 44) Osaka 1997.

Foreword to Aleut Grammar by Knut Bergsland, ANLC 1997.

"The Scope of the Language Endangerment Crisis and Recent Response to it" in N. Matsumura (ed.) Studies in Endangered Languages, Tokyo 1998, pp. 101-112.

"The Condition of Native North American Languages: the Need for Realistic Assessment and Action" in special issue of International Journal of the Sociology of Language 132, pp. 9-21. 1998.

Foreword (pp. 7-9) to Ancient Aleut Personal Names by Knut Bergsland ANLC 1998, for which I provided basic documents, and did extensive editorial work.

“Plains Apache Language Documentation” ANLC, typescript, 1999. 15 pp.

"Koyukon Dialectology and its Relationships to other Athabaskan Languages" in Koyukon Athabaskan Dictionary by Jules Jetté and Eliza Jones, James Kari, chief editor, ANLC 2000, pp. l-lxv; "Some Traits of the Modern Orthography", ibid. lxxii-lxxiv; "History and Future of Koyukon Language work", ibid. lxxv-lxxx;"Koyukon Kinship", ibid. 815-822; "Loanwords in Koyukon", ibid. 823-829.

“Bering 1728 and Gvozdev 1732” paper presented at “Science under Sail: Russian Exploration in the North Pacific, 1728-1867” Cook Inlet Historical Society Symposium Anchorage 2000, 10 pp. typescript.

“Mass Language Extinction, and Documentation: The Race against Time” Lectures on Endangered Languages:2 Kyoto 2001, pp 19-39.

“Linguistic Arrogance and Endangered Languages” ibid. 203-206.

"The Languages of the North Pacific Rim 1897-1997 and the Jesup Expedition". In Constructing Cultures Then and Now: Celebrating Franz Boas and the Jesup Expedition. Laurel Kendall and Igor Krupnik, eds. Pp. 211-21. Contributions to Circumpolar Anthropology 4. 2003. Washington, DC: Arctic Studies Center.

Naukan Yupik Eskimo Dictionary (compiler, with E.A. Dobrieva, E.V. Golovko, S.A. Jacobson, ed. S.A. Jacobson, ANLC 2004, xxv + 421 pp. “Introduction” (ibid.) pp. v-x, “Bibliography” (ibid.) pp. xix-xxv, “Placenames” (ibid.) pp. 371-421.

Slovar’ Iazyka Naukanskikh Eskimosov (Russian version of preceding), ANLC 2004, xxx + 369 pp. (Vvedenie pp. v-xiv, Bibliografiia pp. xxv-xxx. Nazvaniia mest 319-369, tr. I.V. Krupnik and E.V. Golovko).

“Lexical Documentation of Endangered Languages” Lectures on Endangered Languages:4 Kyoto 2004, pp. 47-50.

“The World’s Languages in Crisis: Questions, Challenges, and a Call for Action” (ibid. 23-28), with Luisa Maffi and Akira Yamamoto.

Foreword (pp. vi-vii) to Haida Dictionary by John Enrico, ANLC and Sealaska Heritage Institute, 2005.

“Athabaskan Tone [1979 with additions],” in Sharon Hargus and Karen Rice, eds. Pp. 51-136. Athabaskan Prosody. 2005. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

“Status of Alaska Native Languages 1979-2000 and their Documentation” in Miyaoka, Osahito, Osamu Sakiyama, and Michael Krauss, eds. Vanishing Languages of the Pacific Rim Oxford University Press, 2006.

“Eskimo Languages in Asia, 1791-2004, and the Wrangell Island – Point Hope Connection,” forthcoming, Etudes/Inuit/Studies 29(    ), 2006.

“Eskimo Language Work of A.S. Forshtein and Bogoraz,” ANLC typescript, to appear 2006.

43 pp.


2006 A History of Eyak Language Documentation and Study: Frederica De Laguna in Memorium Arctic Anthropology 43(2): 172-217.

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