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Haida Speaker Woodrow Morrison Sr. dies at 96

November 5th, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments

We lost one of our last remaining fluent speakers of Haida on October 29, 2009.  Woodrow Wilson Morrison, Sr. was born February 3, 1913 in Hydaburg, Alaska; he was 96 years old.  According to there’s no more than 2 or 3 dozen speakers left in the world.  I’ve heard the number in Alaska is around 10.

As a producer for “Northwest Indian News”, I was working on doing a story on Ben Young (Kiisxaat), the great nephew of Woodrow Morrison.  Ben has committed himself to learning the Haida language.  He lived in Hydaburg and was studying closely with Woodrow and his grandfather Claude Morrison.  The Television show “Northwest Indian News” has since lost its funding and I never did get a chance to do the story.  Currently, Ben and his wife live in Fairbanks while attending University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

This clip is from an interview in Hydaburg, Alaska on July 29, 2001.  Interviewer: Louis Jones, Sr.  Videographer/Editor: Frederick Otilius Olsen, Jr.  Thank you Mr. Olsen for both videotaping this interview and posting it on youtube.  Thank you to Ben and all the other young speakers who have decided to save our languages.

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