The Death of a Language

Holikachuk was a native Alaskan language that essentially died out in 2012 with the death of its last native speaker, a man named Wilson "Tiny" Deacon. Wilson died on March 10, 2012. He was 86 years old. 

Holikachuk is an Athabascan language that is closely related to the native Alaskan Shageluk (also known as Deg Xinag and formerly known as Ingalik) language. Holikachuk was spoken in the village by the same name, along the Innoko river in Alaska. It was one of the first known inhabited villages in the state. Eventually the village was abandoned, due to flooding, and most of its few remaining inhabitants moved to the village of Grayling about 15 miles west on the Yukon river.

Wilson had been working with the University of Fairbanks in a study of his language and culture. Thankfully, the language survives in written form and through the many literary collections from several contributors. One of the major contributors is Dr. Michael Krauss. Another is a collection of extensive field notes by James Kari.