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Gwich'in Language (Gwichin, Kutchin, Kuchin)

Language: Gwich'in is an Athabascan language of Alaska and Northern Canada. It is a tone language which is agglutinative and has SOV word order. There are two main dialects which are fairly distinct from one another: Western Gwich'in or Alaskan Gwich'in (although this dialect is also spoken in the Yukon as well as Alaska), and Eastern Gwich'in or Canadian Gwich'in. These two dialects are spoken by a combined 500 people today. Although most speakers are elders and Gwich'in is considered an endangered language, today the different communities of the Gwich'in Nation are working together to pass their traditional language on to the younger generations.

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Names: "Gwich'in" is a name meaning "dwellers" or "those who live." Originally, this was only half of a Gwich'in community's name-- for example, "Vuntut Gwich'in" meant "lake dwellers." However, English speakers assumed "Gwich'in" was the name of their tribe in general, and over time that became how the people use it. Sometimes Gwich'in speakers also refer to themselves as Dinjii Zhuu (which means "indigenous people") or just Dinjii (the people,) and they have frequently also been known by band names such as Takudh, Vuntut, Dihai, Gwichyaa, Neets'aii, and Teetł'it. These names have been spelled many different ways over the years including Gwichin, Gwitchin, Kutchin, Kuchin, Kootchin, Koochin; Dindjie', Dene Dindjie, Dinji, Dinjii Zhuh, Dinjii Zhyuh, Di zi zuh; Tukudh, Vantat, Van Tat, Di'haii, Gwich'yaa, Gwichyah, Gwichya, Gwichyaa Zhee, Kutchakutchin, Neetsaii, Neets'aak, Neets'ee, Teetl'it, Teetlit, and Tetlit. In older texts the Gwich'in were sometimes referred to as "Loucheux" or "Squint-Eyes," since that was the name given to them by French fur traders of Western Canada-- but no one seems to remember the reason why the French called them this odd name, and Gwich'in people do not use it today.

Gwichin Language
Gwichin language samples and resources.

Gwichin Tribe Culture and History
Information and links about the Gwichin Indians past and present.

Gwich'in Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to common questions about the lifestyle of Gwich'in Indian people.

Gwich'in Indian Legends
Introduction to Gwich'in mythology.

Gwich'in Language Resources

Our Online Gwich'in Materials

Gwich'in Words:
    Our list of vocabulary words in the Gwich'in language, with comparison to words in other Athabaskan languages.
Gwichin Animal Words:
    Picture dictionary of animal words in the Gwichin language.

Gwich'in Dictionaries and Language Books for Sale
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Gwich'in Junior Dictionary:
    Alaskan Gwich'in language learning book for children.
Gwich'in Words about the Land:
    Bilingual collection of Gwich'in stories and traditional knowledge from the Gwich'in Settlement Region in Canada.
We Traveled from Place to Place * Neets'ąįį Gwiindaii:
    Interesting books of oral history from Venetie and Arctic Village elders, in Western Gwich'in with English translation.

Gwich'in Language Community and Tools

Gwich'in Social and Cultural Institute:
    Homepage of a tribal organization working to preserve Gwich'in language and culture in Canada.
Tanan Ch’at’oh:
    Gwich'in language revitalization center in Alaska.

Gwich'in Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

Northern Athabaskan Language Map
    Map showing the locations in Canada and Alaska where Gwich'in and other Athabaskan languages were spoken.
Gwich'in Language Lessons
    Audio lessons and other Gwich'in language learning resources from the Yukon Native Language Centre.
Old Crow: Vuntut Gwitchin
    Overview of the Gwich'in Athapaskan language from the Vuntut Gwitchin reserve, with audio files.
Gwich'in Writing System * Gwich'in
    Gwichin orthography and text example.
Gwichin Language * Gwich'in Orthography * Gwich'in Bible Translation * Gwich'in Text:
    Gwich'in Indian linguistics materials from the Rosetta Project.
Freelang Gwich'in Dictionary:
    Free downloadable wordlist of the Gwich'in language.
    Alaskan Athapascan fonts for Windows, including Gwich'in and ten other languages.
Alaska Native Language Center: Gwich'in:
    Profile of the Gwich'in Indians and their language.
Athapaskan Placenames of Alaska * Gwich'in Place Names up the Arctic Red River:
    Place names in Gwich'in and other Athabaskan languages.
House of Languages: Gwich'in:
    Information about Gwich'in language usage.
Language of the Caribou People:
    Documentary film on the history and usage of the Gwitchin language.
Champion of her Language: * Inuvik Drum: Language revival: * Gwich'in high school classes in NWT:
    News articles about Gwich'in language preservation efforts in Canada.
Gwich'in Language Tree:
    Theories about Gwichin's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Kutchin Language Structures:
    Gwich'in linguistic profile and academic bibliography.

Literature and Texts in the Gwich'in Language

    Online collection of poetry written in Alaskan Gwich'in.
Tower of Babel in Gwich'in: * Gwichin New Testament: * Fort Yukon Gwich'in Words of Life:
    Translations of the Bible into the Gwich'in language.
Language Museum: Gwich'in:
    The Lord's Prayer translated into the Gwichin language.
Gwich'in Language Plaque
    Canadian human rights tribute written in Gwich'in.

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Additional Resources, Links, and References

  Endangered Languages Project: Gwich'in: Learning Gwich'in:
  Bibliography of Gwich'in language learning resources.
  OLAC: Gwich'in:
  Reference list of Gwich'in language materials.
  Wikipedia: Gwich'in:
  Encyclopedia articles on the Gwich'in tribe.
  Lengua Kutchin:
  Gwich'in language information in Spanish.

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