The Alaska Native Language Center was established by state legislation in 1972 as a center for research and documentation of the twenty Native languages of Alaska. It is internationally known and recognized as the major center in the United States for the study of Eskimo and Northern Athabascan languages. ANLC publishes its research in story collections, dictionaries, grammars, and research papers.
The center houses an archival collection of more than 10,000 items, virtually everything written in or about Alaska Native languages, including copies of most of the earliest linguistic documentation, along with significant collections about related languages outside Alaska.
Staff members provide materials for bilingual teachers and other language workers throughout the state, assist social scientists and others who work with Native languages, and provide consulting and training services to teachers, school districts, and state agencies involved in bilingual education.
The ANLC staff also participates in teaching through the Alaska Native Language Program which offers major and minor degrees in Central Yup’ik and Inupiaq Eskimo at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. An AAS degree or a Certificate in Native Language Education is also available.
The center continues to strive to raise public awareness of the gravity of language loss worldwide but particularly in the North. Of the state’s twenty Native languages, only two (Siberian Yupik in two villages on St. Lawrence Island, and Central Yup’ik in seventeen villages in southwestern Alaska) are spoken by children as the first language of the home. Like every language in the world, each of those twenty is of inestimable human value and is worthy of preservation. ANLC, therefore, continues to document, cultivate, and promote those languages as much as possible and thus contribute to their future and to the heritage of all Alaskans.