Archive for the ‘Eyak’ Category

Guillaume Leduey is only 21, but he speaks his native French, along with English, German, Chinese and Georgian, and – according to this Wall Street Journal story (click for a video link about Leduey) – he can also sing at least one song in Lithuanian.

Now Leduey is adding along language to his repertoire, one with considerable emotional importance both to him and to an entire people – Eyak.

As Jim Carlton writes, Marie Smith Jones, the last native speaker of the indigenous Alaskan language, died in 2008:

    Lots of local dialects across the world face extinction, but few have attracted a preservationist as unlikely as Mr. Leduey, an aspiring sculptor who until June hadn’t left Europe. That month, he journeyed to Alaska to study under Michael Krauss, a 75-year-old University of Alaska linguistics professor who knows conversational Eyak. Mr. Leduey set out to traipse in the footsteps of the tribe that once inhabited this gritty fishing village on Prince William Sound.

Leduey tells Carlton that “It’s like I have an inner voice that tells me I have to do that.”

Smith’s daughter, Mona Curry, says that “this will help keep my mom’s memory and spirit alive.”

Gwen Florio