BSNC was honored to have shareholder Gail Topkaruk Eyuk Smithhisler of Nome teach Inupiaq language workshops online April 14, 21 and 28 from 12-1 p.m. AKST to shareholders and descendants. For the last few years, Smithhisler has been helping revitalize the Inupiaq language by maintaining the “Inupiaq Word of the Day” pages on Facebook and TikTok. The pages now have thousands of followers from around the world. Smithhisler has been featured in the Nome Nugget for her efforts and recently collaborated with an online digital travel magazine to highlight Inupiaq culture and language.
Smithhisler was born and raised in Oregon in a mainly English speaking home until she moved to Nome in her middle school years. Since then, Smithhisler credits her mother, Alma Smithhisler, and grandparents, Frank and Edna Ahnangnatoguk with teaching her important life and basic language skills while camping, hunting and gathering from the land. She also credits shareholder Josie Bourdon and Meghan Sigvanna Topkok for sharing their knowledge through the University of Alaska Fairbanks Northwest Campus in Nome where several conversational Inupiaq classes have been held. Smithhisler continues to learn the language through classes offered by UAF.
Recently, Smithhisler was asked to teach “Learn Inupiaq Language” during Iditarod Week at UAF’s Northwest Campus, where basic Inupiaq words and phrases and basic knowledge were taught by her in conjunction with her cousin Eva Topkaruk Sukanna Dickson. Smithhisler will begin teaching Conversational Inupiaq I at UAF’s Northwest Campus in Nome in the Fall 2023 semester. Smithhisler is passionate about sharing the knowledge she’s learned with others and hopes to contribute to the important task of revitalizing the Inupiaq language.
“Our language isn’t dead; our language is merely asleep. It’s time to wake it up and work together to preserve this important part of our culture and identity as a people,” said Smithhisler.