About the Archive
On February 22, 2013 ANLA joined Rasmuson Library to dedicate its new space on the 2nd floor of the library as the Michael E. Krauss Alaska Native Language Archive. The new name honors the founder of the collection, who worked for several decades to grow the collection to the most comprehensive indigenous languages resource in the world. [read more]
ANLA collections include both published and unpublished materials. Original records include linguistic field notes and audio and video recordings. Published materials include books, reprints, copies of materials held in other archives, and copies of Alaska Native Language Center publications. The Archive reading room also houses reference materials which support research with these collections. The uniqueness of this collection lies partly in this concentration of materials.
The collection also includes important documentation of the development of literacy and education in these Alaskan languages, including the development of writing systems, lesson plans, and educational materials.
The value of the materials housed in the Alaska Native Language Archive derives at least in part from the comprehensive nature of the collection. Hence, the Archive strives to acquire as many materials in and about Alaska Native languages as possible. However, the Archive also recognizes that sufficient resources may not be available in the future to maintain a comprehensive collection. With this in mind, several principles of acquisition prioritization have been established. Acquisition must balance potentially competing priorities along the essentially independent parameters of source language, content type, and publication status.
Priority is given to materials pertaining directly to the documentation of Alaska Native languages. Lesser priority is given to materials documenting related languages spoken entirely outside Alaska. For these purposes the term Alaska Native language is roughly defined as those indigenous languages spoken in Alaska at the time of European contact, as well as Tsimshian and Haida, which moved into the state more recently. For the purposes of archival acquisition, certain Russia varieties and creoles with a long history in Alaska may also be considered to be Alaska Native languages.
Priority will be given to documentary and pedagogical materials which relate directly to Alaska Native languages. Secondary priority will be given to materials which pertain to Alaska Native languages within a broader context (e.g., language classifications, language policy, history of language contact, pedagogical theory). Lowest priority will be given to materials deriving from Alaska Native languages but not containing any actual language information (e.g., English translations of Native language stories).
While the Archive strives to be comprehensive, a priority is placed on items which are not available in other collections, as follows in decreasing order of priority.
- Primary materials, especially unpublished manuscripts and field notes.
- “Grey” literature: locally-published materials with limited distribution, including self-published or mimeographed language teaching materials and readers. as well as reports to government agencies.
- Secondary materials, including copies of materials which exist in other collections which are not readily accessible to users of the Alaska Native Language Collection.
Audio and Video
The Archive does not actively acquire individual recordings but rather serves as a repository for substantial, significant collections relating to identified documentary or pedagogical projects.
The Alaska Native Language Archive was formally established as an independent entity in 2009, incorporating collections housed under the Alaska Native Language Center. Prior to the founding of the Alaska Native Language Center by state legislation in 1972 linguistic documentation had been undertaken by a wide range of individuals and institutions, and the results of this work were scattered in archives, libraries, and attics across the globe. These materials include original manuscripts from the Russian American era and wordlists collected by early arctic explorers. The Alaska Native Language Archive was created with the goal of consolidating these important materials in one location. In addition, the Archive serves as a repository for the growing body of educational materials being developed by Alaska Native speakers and linguists at ANLC.
Today the Archive has grown to house more than 15,000 documents, including nearly everything written in or about any of the twenty Alaska Native languages. The Archive also contains a significant collection of audio recordings dating to the 1940’s, including some of the earliest recordings of Alaska Native languages. The comprehensive nature of the collection—bringing together unpublished manuscripts and copies of archival documents, as well as published materials—has been repeatedly recognized as unique and valuable.
The Archive is overseen by an external advisory board representing the diverse regions of Alaska. The board works together with the Archive Director and the staff of the Alaska Native Language Center in order to ensure that the collections are both preserved for future generations and made accessible to language education and revitalization programs.
The Archive is located on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is open to the public for research and educational purposes. Efforts are currently underway to increase access through digitization of audio and text materials. A container list is accessible online, and portions of the collection are accessible via web portals tailored to individual languages. The Archive also continues to partner with Native organizations to facilitate local access in remote regions.