Koyukon Ethnographic Place-names

Fr. Jules Jetté Dictionary and Koyukon Language Database

The TCC Archaeology Program is working in collaboration with Athabascan Linguistic James Kari, Ken Pratt of the BIA and David Kingma of the Jesuit Oregon Province Archives to build a usable format of Koyukon place-names based on the Fr. Jules Jetté’s handwritten dictionary that he completed during his missionary work in Alaska around 1910.   This work supplements the Koyukon-Dictionary, published in 2000.

During his time as a missionary, Jetté lived and traveled with the Koyukon Athabascans between Nulato and Tanana.  He recorded the names of places in the Native language, the English meaning, a description of each place and a discussion of its significance.  Important locations were named for their appearance, spiritual significance, importance to navigation or association with events in Koyukon history or cultural stories.   Jetté’s notes and dictionary also included hand-drawn maps of his travels and the recorded places.


The TCC Forestry and Archaeology Programs are collaborating to create an interactive web map that uses a database to store and manage the Koyukon place-names.

The current work with Jetté’s unpublished manuscripts is funded through the BIA ANCSA 14(h)(1) program and the TCC Natural and Cultural Resources division.