Language Immersion Camps

Teetl'it Gwich'in elder Mrs. Dorothy Alexie the Gwich'in Instructor with students (l-r) Tara Greenland, Allison Neyando, Deborah Peterson, Daralynn Kay, Robert Koe, Jerry Kay and David Kay (hidden). Photo credit: William George Firth, GSCI.

On the land language immersion camps have given Gwich’in children and adults grounding in traditional skills as well as the Gwich’in language. The camps feature fluent Gwich’in speakers, who explain traditional skills and interact with the attendees in the Gwich’in language. They are located far from town life where English is the predominant language.

In June 2001, the first Gwich’in language immersion camp was held at Tr’ineht’ieet’iee (Gabe Andre’s Camp) near Tree River. Two Elders along with three other adults served as instructors. Activities at the camp included fishing, making dryfish and learning basic Gwich’in vocabulary related to greetings, animals and kinship terms. In the evenings, the Elders told stories, and the students played games and wrote in their journals.

For two weeks in August 2002, eight students, ranging in age from ten to 12 years, and two instructors, camped near Fort McPherson on the Peel River. Daily instruction in the Gwich’in language included how to set up a camp, traditional medicine, crafts, setting rabbit snares, cleaning beaver and duck carcasses, gathering wood and cooking.

Language immersion camps focussing on increasing day-to-day use of the Gwich’in language continue at the Midway Lake Camp. Contact us for more information on upcoming camps.