Lower Tanana language

(Lower) Tanana
Menhti Kenaga
Native to United States
Region Alaska (middle Yukon River, Koyukuk River)
Ethnicity 400 Tanana (2007)[1]
Native speakers
15 (2007)[1]
Latin (Northern Athabaskan alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 taa
Glottolog lowe1425[2]

Lower Tanana (also Tanana and/or Middle Tanana) is an endangered language spoken in Interior Alaska in the lower Tanana River villages of Minto and Nenana. Of about 380 Tanana people in the two villages, about 30 still speak the language. As of 2010, "Speakers who grew up with Lower Tanana as their first language can be found only in the 250-person village of Minto."[3] It is one of the large family of Athabaskan languages, also known as Dené.

The Athabaskan (or Dené) bands who formerly occupied a territory between the Salcha and the Goodpaster rivers spoke a distinct dialect that linguists term the Middle Tanana language.




In a 2008–2009 project, linguist Siri Tuttle of the University of Alaska's Native Language Center "worked with elders to translate and document song lyrics, some on file at the language center and some recorded during the project."[4]

"The Minto dialect of Tanana ... allows speakers to occasionally change the number of syllables in longer words."[4]


  1. 1 2 (Lower) Tanana at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Lower Tanana". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Christopher Eshleman (2010-11-09). "Neal Charlie dies at 91. Minto elder, former chief kept language culture alive". Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
  4. 1 2 Christopher Eshleman (2010-09-13). "Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Alaska Native Language Center linguist helps document dialects". Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Retrieved 2012-09-15.


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