Skip to Content
HomeAbout this siteHelpSearch this site The Library of Congress
America's Story from America's LibraryMeet Amazing AmericansJump Back in TimeExplore the StatesJoin America at PlaySee, Hear and Sing
Explore the States Alaska
Photo of Aleut dancers
Aleut dancers in traditional ceremonial dress

Enlarge this image
The Alaska Native Heritage Center
A Local Legacy

How many ways can you think of to say "Welcome"? In Alaska there are at least 11different ways! That's because there are 11 distinct cultural groups of Native Indians who live in Alaska and have their own languages, customs, and hunting and fishing practices.

The Athabascans say "Chin'an gu nin yu," which literally means, "Thank you, you came here." They come from the interior of Alaska, from Fairbanks to south central Alaska near Anchorage. The Yup'ik and Cup'ik come from southwest Alaska, and they, as well as the Athabascans, were a nomadic people. They traveled from place to place rather than settling in one area. When the Yup'ic welcome you they might say "Waqaa" or "Quyakamsi."

The Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian live in south central Alaska and the southeast Panhandle of the state. They depend upon the ocean and rivers for their food and means of travel. Although they have similar cultures, their languages are different. If you go to Saxman Village in Ketchikan, you might be greeted with "Yak' ei haat yigoodee," which means, "It is good that you have come." Think of how many ways you know to say "Welcome." Do they have slightly different meanings?

page 1 of 1 More Stories

About Local Legacies     

Library Of Congress | Legal Notices | Privacy | Site Map | Contact Us