Tlingit culture, language lives on through heritage learners


October 21, 2021

Sarah Aslam/Wrangell Sentinel

Tammi Meissner, a Tlingit health educator at SEARHC, explains the uses for devil's club, or S'axt' in Tlingit. The plant is valued for medicinal qualities.

It gets so heavy, sometimes you just want to put it down is how Virginia Oliver describes preserving the Tlingit language.

"You want to cry," she said, "because it feels like your brain is going to explode. But then, your Elders just tell you, 'It's too heavy right now, just put it down for a little while and pick it back up.'"

The international Endangered Languages Project and a U.N. agency estimate there are 200 fluent Tlingit speakers left, but the majority of the sources for that data are a decade old, Oliver said.

She estimates there were 50 remaining in 2021. "That is how fast our peo...

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