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Hannah Maillelle's Stories


Hannah was born in Anvik in 1922 to Kate Phillips and Thomas Painter and lived there with them and her two younger sisters. The language spoken in the home and the first language leaned by the children was Deg Xinag. Her mother passed away when Hannah was about 7 years old, and her father a couple of years later, so after spending a short time with an aunt in Anvik, the children were put in the Anvik Mission.

When Hannah entered the Mission she knew only Deg Xinag, but the students were forced to speak English. As Hannah remembered, she and her sisters often whispered to each other in their own language, “How can we use English when we don’t know it?” However, they did learn to talk in English and became accustomed to using it.

When she was bout 10 years old the Anvik Mission closed and Hannah went to live with an aunt and uncle in Swiftwater, on the Innoko River below Shageluk. There Deg Xinag was the language spoken by the family so she regained fluency in her first language. “Mom talked only Indian so I listen to her every day.”

When Hannah married David Maillelle of Holikachuk she moved to his village and there learned the Holikachuk language but continued to use Deg Xinag with those who were from Anvik or Shageluk. In the 1960’s Hannah and her family, along with the rest of the Holikachuk people, moved to the new village of Grayling on the Yukon River.

Hannah taught the Holikachuk language in the Grayling school for several years in the 1980’s. She authored several books of stories in both the Holikachuk and Deg Xinag languages for the Iditarod Area School District and the Alaska Native Language Center, and helped to translate stories told by other elders. She worked with Alta Jerue on Deg Xinag Dindlidik, the Deg Xinag Literacy Manual and continued to be a primary resource for Deg Xinag language work including the Deg Xinag Ałixi Ni’elyoy, the Deg Xinag Learners’ Dictionary. Even when she was forced to live in Anchorage for medical treatment, Hannah joined other elders teaching “Conversational Deg Xinag” to adult students once a week over the telephone.

Hannah passed away in Anchorage, AK, on August 10, 2006.

Hannah Maillelle Xidhoy — Hannah’s Stories

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Deg xigidhoy — Local traditional story

List of Alaska Native audio files and transcriptions
Dolt'ol Dina
The Man in the Moon
Audio (.mp3)Transcript (.pdf)

Engithidong xunik — Historical events

List of Alaska Native audio files and transcriptions
Yałtsighudl Dit’anh
Playing Ball
Audio (.mp3)Transcript (.pdf)
They used to be scared of it
Audio (.mp3)Transcript (.pdf)
Ło’ xiyidighine’
They believed in them
Audio (.mp3)Transcript (.pdf)