Holikachuk – the original language and name of the village of Grayling – has been lost over the last couple of generations. There is one 81-year old lady in the village who speaks it with a measure of fluency, and it was not her first language. Through the years, there have been several attempts to bring the language back, yet it has not become an identifying mark of life as a Native person in Grayling, including no evidence of any Scripture or hymn/spiritual song having been translated into what remains their heart language.
Last summer, we began work which developed into several threads of learning materials which are now being used in the Grayling school, the final piece of which we were excited to put into their hands just four days ago! (Photojournal below)
James pulled existing language literacy exercises and recordings of an elder pronouncing them from the archives at UAF. We figured out how to clean up the audio, researched and chose an online flashcard app, and James and Christa got the 396 flashcards up and running on AnkiApp in October, for use on electronic devices. The Lord allowed us to be in Grayling in November for the kickoff of the culture class for middle and high schoolers in which the app is one of the learning resources. Since then, James has been meeting with them twice a week via Zoom to facilitate their language learning.
To gather pictures for the flashcards, we held a couple of photo contests with the residents of Grayling. It was fun not only to see their participation but also to see many of the words through their eyes.
Shannon researched the idea of getting a durable flashcards printed, and after working through the graphic design and packaging elements, we are thankful to have some beautiful, quality sets of 4″x6″ teacher-on-group type cards as well as 2.5″x3.5″ playing card sets for individual student practice. Shannon and kiddos quickly put in a long day of collation and boxing, and a pilot friend was able to drop them off directly at Grayling for us on Monday. That day while on Zoom, we got to watch the class excitedly open the boxes and see bits of their world with their Native language on professional cards! They put them to immediate use, sitting down to practice with the playing cards.
James also collated the cards and audio into a video; take a look here! (click picture to view video)
We’re hopeful and prayerful that these tools will be part of those in Grayling coming to know the God who created them and their unique culture in His image, and desire to glorify Him through it.