UAS Alaska Native language professor X̱’unei Lance Twitchell honored with First Alaskans Institute Young Native Leader Award
"At a time when our languages are under stress, Dr. Twitchell has provided leadership and an example of what can be done to revitalize our languages."
Date of Press Release: November 30, 2020
Dr. X̱’unei Lance Twitchell was presented with the First Alaskans Institute Young Native Leader Award as part of their November 2020 Smokehouse Gala event. Twitchell is an associate professor of Alaska Native Languages, based at the University of Alaska Southeast Auke Lake campus in Juneau.
The First Alaskans Institute (FAI) Young Native Leader Award is given to those who have shown dedicated work to help Native peoples and communities with “significant and profound purpose.” FAI noted in a recent news release that “Dr. Lance Twitchell carries the Tlingit names X̱’unei, Du Aaní Kawdinook, and Yoo Kaawajígi Yéil, and the Haida name Ḵ’eijáakw. He lives in Juneau with his wife Mariah and their three beautiful bilingual children, and is from the Tlingit, Haida, and Yup’ik Native nations. He speaks and studies the Tlingit language, advocates for indigenous language revitalization, and is an Assistant Professor of Alaska Native Languages at the University of Alaska Southeast, as well as a multimedia Northwest Coast Artist and musician. In addition to his impressive scholarly contributions to include Lingit knowledge and language within the Academy, X̱’unei is also an active language healer and warrior, and a staunch advocate for the decolonization of law and policy. His advocacy was instrumental in ensuring the State of Alaska officially recognized Alaska Native languages, and declared a state of linguistic emergency to call attention to the suppression of our languages and reconciliation efforts that must be put in place.”
On the selection of Twitchell for this honor, FAI Board Chair Iġġiaġruk Willie Hensley said, “We are so proud to recognize Dr. Twitchell for his deep focus and success on the Tlingit language and other Indigenous languages. At a time when our languages are under stress, Dr. Twitchell has provided leadership and an example of what can be done to revitalize our languages. He is a teacher, a researcher, and an advocate at a time when we needed someone like him.”
Twitchell earned his Ph.D. in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization through Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, University of Hawaii Hilo. He also holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and earned his Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in American Indian Studies from the University of Minnesota.
Chancellor Karen Carey commented, “X̱’unei is so deserving of this award. He works tirelessly to promote indigenous languages and cultures and I know we all benefit from his important work. He is highly respected by his students and the UAS Community. Congratulations, X̱’unei!”
Learn more about Alaska Native Studies at the University of Alaska Southeast by visiting our admissions website or by speaking with an advisor at (907) 796-6000.
Press Release Contact
University of Alaska Southeast