MA student David Shanks traveled to Whitehorse, Yukon to conduct fieldwork with speakers of Dän k’è’ (Southern Tutchone, Dene/Athabaskan) in June. Over two weeks, David worked with Dan Tlen, a linguist and speaker of Lhù ʼÀàn Mân kwachʼan kukwanjêʼ (Kluane dialect), and Nakhela Bunbury, an elder and speaker of Taʼan kwechʼēn kwenjē (Lake Laberge dialect), on the possessive system. James Crippen provided guidance and supervision throughout the project. Northern and Southern Tutchone trainees at the Yukon Native Language Centre (YNLC) joined selected sessions to study elicitation technique. Trainees and staff at YNLC also introduced David to many aspects of their cultures, including ätthä̀n gän (dried moose and caribou), fish leather and Labrador tea.
The fieldwork was organized with administrative and logistical support from YNLC and Council of Yukon First Nations. Financial support was provided by the Endangered Language Fund, and the Indigenous Studies and Community Engagement Initiative (ISCEI) and Faculty of Arts at McGill.
David Shanks (L), Dan Tlen (centre) and James Crippen (R) at YNLC (photo: Nathan Easterson-Moore)
James Crippen (L) and David Shanks (R) discussing data at YNLC (photo: Nathan Easterson-Moore)