Emma Brown was born in 1881, she lived to be 106. She was married to Yahoo Brown and they had 3 boys and 7 girls. She supported her family by living off the land and sewing any and all clothing they needed. While she would tan hides, her husband Yahoo Brown would teach the children to speak Tahltan. Emma and Yahoo would migrate to numerous camps while raising their children. Each camp had a purpose, to fish, to trap, to gather or to hunt. She taught her children their language, culture and traditions by sharing stories, stories that are still passed on today. We have her to thank for helping to pass Tāltān stories from our ancestors to the future generation.
Margery Inkster Sr.
DDN alternate representative, Dease Lake
Fluent Speaker, Language Teacher; member of Dah Dẕāhge Nodes̱idē
Angela Dennis is one of the two youngest fluent speakers of the Tāłtān language. While she learned both Tāłtān and English as a baby, her grandparents only spoke Tāłtān to her until she was eight. Angela has received language certificates from the Yinke Dene Language Institute in Vanderhoof, BC and the Yukon College in Whitehorse, Yukon. She has received training in linguistics and language revitalization teaching methods and has been teaching the Tāłtān language at the Klappan School in Iskut for almost 30 years. Not only is Angela a fluent speaker of Tāłtān, but she is also a role model to young and old alike, an expert on the translation and transcription of our language, and an amazing language teacher and developer of language materials. In 2013, she was honoured as a lifetime language champion at the First Nations Education Steering Committee’s language conference. She continues to be a language champion for the Tāłtān people for almost three decades and she continues to play a key role in the preservation and revitalization of the Tāłtān language.
Elder, Fluent Speaker; member of Dah Dẕāhge Nodes̱idē
Regina is a member of the Tsesk’iye Clan from the Tahltan nation. Her Tāłtān name is Elāsgēnze, which means, “pine cone.” She was born at Buckley Lake, part way between Iskut and Telegraph creek. Her family consists of her husband and their seven kids; six boys and one girl. Her youngest boy was born twenty minutes from Atlin in – 44 degree Celsius weather. Regina is a fluent Tāłtān speaker and taught Tāłtān language at the Klappan School in Iskut until 2003. She continued to work on language revitalization with Angela Dennis and in the Iskut language nest, teaching young children through immersion, until 2015. Regina is involved in Tāłtān language revitalization and teaching the next generation Tāłtān language and culture. Her advice to speakers is, “to not be afraid to speak Tāłtān and the most important thing is to try”.
Elder, Fluent Speaker; member of Dah Dẕāhge Nodes̱idē
Shamatu didenek’eh ūyeh. Pat Etzerza is his English name and he received his Tahltan name from his grandmother, Eth’eni (Mary Etzerza) who took care of him in Telegraph Creek. Pat’s grandmother spoke the language to him while they lived together and planted the seed for the Tałtān way of life in him. Despite having to spend time outside the territory, going to residential school, working and travelling, Pat’s heart always remained in the territory. He returned with his knowledge and experiences to teach anyone who would listen to him. He showed his support to the people by becoming a mentor in the Tałtān language revitalization program even though it meant that he was the only male most of the time!
Pat’s message to all Tahltans,
“Your language and culture identify who you are and where you come from. It is very important to learn your language and understand where you come from! Your identity is extremely important in today’s multi-cultural society. It clearly distinguishes our people from the rest of the world. My grandmother has instilled the Tałtān way of life, our language and our culture I haven’t forgotten, nor will I forget. I will never forget!:”
Elder, Language Mentor
Odelia Dennis is Tāłtān and originally from Łuwechōn, BC. Her matriarchal tsū Winnifred Quock was born and raised in Tlego’īn BC. Odelia was exposed to Tāłtān language as a child but began learning to speak in 2012 through constant contact with fluent speakers. Since then, she has been involved in several community and nation projects around the Tāłtān language including publishing children’s books, opening of language nests, and more recently, teaching Tāłtān as a second language to adults through the University of Victoria’s Diploma in Indigenous Language Revitalization program. Now, as a semi-fluent speaker, Odelia is an advocate of revitalizing the Tāłtān language through a team effort, with the need to involve all communities, fluent speakers, Elders and leadership. For Odelia, learning the Tāłtān language has brought an awareness of the Tahltan Ancestors’ worldview. This, along with watching children understand and speak Tāłtān, is the most prominent motivator for Odelia in continuing to learn her Ancestral language.
Edōsdi | Judy Thompson
Edōsdi tseskiye medahstehi. Edōsdi, which literally means “someone who raises up pets and children”, or more simply, “someone who is a teacher.” is Crow clan and a member of the Tahltan Nation. Her English name is Judy Thompson and she is a trained elementary school teacher and an assistant professor in Indigenous Education at the University of Victoria. Edōsdi has a BSc (Kinesiology), a MSc (Environmental Studies), and a PhD (Environmental Studies/Education/Linguistics). Her research interests include Indigenous language revitalization, Indigenous research methodologies, culturally-based curriculum, and Indigenous knowledge systems. She is currently an Advisor to the Language Department and was formerly Director for the Tāłtān Language Reclamation Department from 2012-2019.
Language Reclamation Coordinator, Iskut
Patricia Louie started working in Dzimes Chō T’oh, the Iskut Language Nest in 2013 as an assistant and is currently the Iskut Coordinator for the Language and Culture program where she works on a number of language related projects and events on top of herLanguage Nest work. Patricia received her Certificate in Tahltan Language Proficiency through Simon Fraser University in 2017 and will graduate with a Diploma in Indigenous Language Revitalization in June 2019 with the University of Victoria. Patricia has grown up with the Tahltan language and culture. She has learnt the Tahltans’ way of life through gathering, harvesting berries, medicinal plants, and harvesting wild meat.
She has her aunties to help guide her in this path to continue and teach the language to anyone who is interested in learning it. She has been inspired by many and values the teachings from others who had chosen to share with her. Patricia is grateful for all the wisdom and knowledge that was shared with her and she will pass on what she has received to the younger generation. Through all the language teachings that is passed on to her, her wish is that she sounds like a fluent speaker
Hostełmā (Pauline Hawkins)
Hostełmā, Pauline Hawkins, has been the Tāłtān Language and Culture teacher at Tahltan School in Telegraph Creek since the fall of 2004. She has her Certificate in Tahltan Language Proficiency through Simon Fraser University and is working towards her Diploma in Indigenous Language Revitalization through the University of Victoria with a focus on Tāłtān language. Hostełmā learned most about her language and culture from her parents, retired Tāłtān language teacher Hamdā (Patrick) and fluent speaker Tlokets̱dā (Edith). In addition to her parents, she has also learned a great deal from other family and Elders, as well as in her studies and position in the schools. Together with these important influences Hostełmā continues working towards her goal of being an even better speaker and teacher.
In addition to her role at the school, Hostełmā is the Language and Culture Coordinator for Tlego’īn.
Hotseta (Oscar Dennis)
Hotseta (Oscar James Dennis Sr). Hotesta is an instructor, web designer, program designer and language researcher. He is of Tahltan Dene ancestry and was born and raised on the Tahltan Territory. Currently he resides at Edonetenejaan Lake (off-the-grid) on Tahltan territory. He is Raven/Crow clan from the Talok’ot’īne Tribe and the Eth’eni house/family. Estū kudes̱kākeh Talokot’īne Nehn k’eh (My-grandmother’s camp-fire tracks are on Talok’ot’īne tribal-land).
His motivation for learning the language was simple, but very political – he made an oath to himself that he will not leave this planet speaking the foreign colonial language of his oppressor! Now, when he speaks with his mother and father in his native tongue he never forgets who he is and his language reinforces the notion of his Dene identity.
Although he learned to speak the Tahltan language as a second language after reaching adulthood, he considers himself lucky to have been exposed to the language on a daily basis as a child.
He was awarded a Master’s Degree in First Nation Studies and wrote his thesis on the Pedagogical Structure of the Tahltan Language. Hotseta also holds two Bachelor Degree’s in the Social Science: Anthropology and First Nations Studies. His Anthropology stream is ‘Cultural Linguistics’ and his First Nations focus is ‘governmental’. You can read Oscar’s Master’s thesis here
Goh sedle, Kitty Jean Brown, was born and raised in Telegraph Creek to Egizi (Willie Brown) and Kātkīmā (Jean Jakesta). Throughout her childhood she lived in an environment where her language and culture was vibrant and alive. She enjoyed helping Elders in exchange for their knowledge. One of her fondest memories is when she would deliver moose meat to elders, she remembers the sound of gratitude in their voices as they accepted the offering. As an adult, Goh sedle faced many challenges that she overcame with support from her son, Adrian Brownfield and Alcoholic Anonymous. She took the first steps toward her new life at the Northern Lights College where she began upgrading. Today, Goh sedle celebrating over thirty years clean and sober. Goh sedle is currently enrolled in the Indigenous Language Revitalization program with University of Victoria. Goh sedle’s early teaching are the pillars that enable her to recollect the Tahltan language as she is working towards her Diploma. Goh sedle works as the Language and Culture Assistant in Tlego’īn (Telegraph Creek) where she support Tahltan language leaning in the community at the school and in evening sessions.
Una-Ann is a Tahltan/Tlingit Artist born in Prince Rupert, BC. By honoring Traditional knowledge, value systems and protocols she has been able to establish herself as an Artist that creates Traditional to Contemporary artwork. As an artist, her philosophy around the work that she does is to create quality, unique designs that can be incorporated in all media. Using the holistic approach, she shares the meaning behind the designs, why we use them and the traditions that accompany them. She found that through her art practice and sharing of knowledge that she was able to empower Aboriginal youth to elders that elevated their self-esteem and pride.
Peter Morin is a Tahltan Nation artist, curator and writer who recently relocated from British Columbia to Brandon MB where he joined the Visual and Aboriginal Arts Faculty at Brandon University. Morin studied art at Emily Carr University of Art and Design and completed his MFA at University of British Columbia Okanagan in 2011. In both his artistic practice as well as his curatorial work, Morin’s practice-based research investigates the impact between indigenous cultural-based practices and western settler colonialism. His work, defined by Tahltan Nation epistemological production, often takes on the form of performance interventions, and also includes object and picture making. Peter’s grandparents are Dinah and John Creyke.
Formally known as Tamara Skubovius, Ts̱ēmā Igharas is a Tahltan interdisciplinary artist, designer and teacher born in Smithers, BC. She attended Kitinmaax school for Northwest Coast Indian Art, received her BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and her MFA from Ontario College of Art and Design in 2016 with a focus on Indigenous relationships with industrialized land. She is passionate about her Indigenous heritage and aims to use elements of Tahltan culture, patterns and designs in her work. Ts̱ēmā‘s favorite childhood memories are of going to Fish Camp in the summers, riding horses at her grandparents’ ranch near the Stikine Canyon, and especially being around her Elders, listening to stories of how things were, their misadventures and what they learned along the way.
Check out https://tsema.ca/ for more info