Language: Ahtna is an Athabaskan language
of Alaska. Like most Athabaskan languages, Ahtna has highly inflected verbs and an
SOV word order; unusually among
Athabaskan languages, however, it is not a
tone language and does not have nasalized vowels.
Only a few dozen Copper River Indian people still speak the Ahtna language fluently today,
but some younger people are working to preserve their native language
for future generations.
Thanks for your interest in indigenous American languages!
Names: The official spelling of the tribal name is Ahtna, but other variants are sometimes used as well,
such as Atna, Ahtena, Atnah, Ahtnah, Ah-tena, Ahtnakotana, Ahtna-Khotana, and Ahtna-Kohtaene. All of these names come from
Atna', which is the indigenous name for the Copper River (which flows through the tribe's territory.) The Ahtnas are also known
by a few external names with similar meanings: the Tlingit name Ikhka Khwan (which means "Copper People,") the Russian name
Mednovskiy or Mednovski (which means "copper,") and the English name Copper River Athabaskan.
There are four dialects of the Ahtna language, usually known as
Lower Copper River,
Central Copper River,
Western Ahtna, and
Upper Ahtna (Mentasta or Chistochina.)
Encyclopedia entries on the Ahtna language.
Information on the Ahtna language in Spanish. With photographs and a tribal map.
Information about the Ahtnas and their language in Russian.
Ahtna Indian books.