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 Babushka's Language

We were and are a coastal people. The water and the resources it provides are an important part of our lives! From its beaches we find coal and driftwood to heat our homes. From the rivers come salmon and trout. Halibut, salmon, cod, shrimp, crab and clams from the sea provide dietary staples as well as incomes for our people. Ninilchik men still fish for a living sometimes leaving home for months at a time. In our forest we find moose, porcupine, grouse, mushrooms and berries for eating. We once had an abundance of fur animals. In our language you will find many words related to these things.


Please understand that this is work in progress so changes to definitions, spelling and pronunciation may change daily.


This is the first actual page of our newly compiled words.


Body Parts and other Related Words


Time is passing by on our elder's feet! Their footprints are a lasting trail to the past and our childrens imprints lead us to the future.

Elder's Feet Poem

The Russian Missionaries, Traders, Fur Industry and Settlers heavily influenced the people of Ninilchik and other Alaska villages. Ninilchik has a Russian dialect all of its own. Originally settled by a Russian married to an Aleut and later marriages to Athabascans influenced very few words and most remain strictly Russian. The dialect is Alaskan Russian with many 19th Century Russian Words still intact. Many of the original families used the Russian language until sometime in the 1950's. The following are some words common to Ninilchik. Some words will be nonsensical because there was no Russian word to describe an object. Each section of a country has a dialect and ours is unique. We have approximately 25 speakers still living. On May 30, 1997 our first actual meeting took place in Ninilchik. We taped conversations and words. The laughter and sharing of old memories made for a delightful afternoon. Previously the work was conducted at home or by telephone. My grandmother, Sandra Wells Kelly, Brother-in-laws Michael Oskolkoff and Larry Oskolkoff, Mike Steik, -Eleanor Cooper Beatty, Nick Leman, George Jackinsky and Arnold Oskolkoff contributed to the pre-preliminary study. In June Mira Bergleson and her husband Anrej Kubrik, along with their daughters Anna and Lila, came to assist in creating a Ninilchik dictionary. Andrej and Mira are from Moscow. They are both linguists. They spent two weeks working with Betty Porter, Walter Jackinsky, Edward Jackinsky, George Jackinsky, Louie Kvasnikoff, Mae Dimedoff, Alice Bowens, Harry Leman, Arnold Oskolkoff, Dean Kvasnikoff, Ella Woodhead, Nick Leman, Larry Oskolkoff, Leo Steik, Ceceil Demidoff and Eleanor Beatty. Louis Kvasnikoff and Harry Leman. Many Ninilchik people assisted in opening their homes and hearts to this delightful family. A special thanks to Sharon Culhane, Betty Porter, Harry Leman, Kathy and Gary Jackinsky, Joann Jackinsky, Erling Kvasnikoff and the Ninilchik Tribal Council for their assistance. We enjoyed a delightful evening at Sharon Culhane's with many families represented. Andrej, his daughter's Anna and Lila, and Erling Kvasnikoff entertained us with guitar music and songs. While visiting our home we were delighted to learn many of our family recipes and food preparations we shared with the linguists were exactly as they are in Russia.

We also owe a thank you to Ninilchik Native Association, William Prosser, CIRI, Ninilchik Native Association (Oral History) and CIRI Foundation for support of this project.


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