The Carrier (Dakelh) Language
Carrier is a Northern Athabaskan language named after the Dakelh people. Although speakers are few, it is the native language of several First Nations people in and around the Central Interior of British Columbia, including Lheidli T’enneh.
Keeping a language alive is not an easy process. Many indigenous languages across Canada have been all but destroyed by a history of colonization and cultural assimilation. Many of these languages are not recorded on text like common languages like English and were often taught and shared orally through fluent speakers, typically elders. It is extremely unfortunate that when these elders pass, whole dictionaries worth of knowledge risk disappearing as well. As such, they are instrumental in the recovery and documentation of written and spoken Indigenous languages, like Carrier. Specific organizations, like ‘Utsiyan inké ‘Utsoo, Lheidli’s Elder Society, help Lheidli support these endeavors in order to keep their particular dialect of Carrier alive which remains an important part of their history and culture.
Today the Carrier language is experiencing a resurgence thanks to those same elders who have made major contributions to online dictionaries, multi-media resources, and ongoing language programs at the local schools, college, and university located on the Traditional Territory of Lheidli T’enneh.
With the help of Elders, historians, and language experts, Lheidli has developed a library of resources to help teach and learn the Carrier language. Although it is an ongoing process to keep these resources accessible and up-to-date, Lheidli continues to maintain the Carrier language and support its speakers, both new and old.
Click on the websites below and learn a few words today.
Lheidli Dakelh Dictionary – this basic online dictionary can be used to translate Dakelh to English and vice versa.
Nusedh Yoh Elementary – Under the guidance of Lheidli Elder Edie Frederick, Nusdeh Yoh Elementary School has been working to ensure that the local Dakelh language is learned and remembered by the next generation.
First Voices – First Voices help keep First Nation languages accessible with web-based tools and services designed to support Indigenous people engaged in language archiving, language teaching, and culture revitalization.
Bill Poser – Research Consultant for the Yinka Dene Language Institute and co-editor to the Northwest Journal of Linguistics, Bill Poser has written, edited, compiled, and contributed to numerous language books, including one focused on Carrier. His online dictionary provides a detailed breakdown of the specifics details of the language.