nativename=Inuktitut, Siglitun, Uummarmiutun, Kangiryuarmiutun
states=Canada (Northwest Territories)
region=North America
nation=Northwest Territories (Canada)
agency=Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Inuvialuktun is a word routinely used to describe the varieties of the language of the Inuit spoken in the northern Northwest Territories by those Canadian Inuit who call themselves "Inuvialuit".

Inuvialuktun is spoken by the Inuit of the Mackenzie River delta in the Northwest Territories, Banks Island, part of Victoria Island and the Arctic Ocean coast of the Northwest Territories - the lands of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. The government of the Northwest Territories considers Inuvialuktun distinct from the Inuktitut spoken in Nunavut.

Inuvialuktun is an official language of the Northwest Territories and is written using the Roman alphabet, like all NWT official languages, and has no tradition of Inuktitut syllabics. However, the official understanding of Inuvialuktun is somewhat at variance to the way linguists understand it. Rather than a single dialect, Inuvialuktun is a politically motivated grouping of three quite distinct and separate dialects.

Before the 20th century, the Inuvialuit Settlement Region was primarily inhabited by "Siglit" Inuit who spoke the "Siglitun" dialect, but in the second half of the 19th century, their numbers were dramatically reduced by the introduction of new diseases. Inuit from Alaska moved into traditionally Siglit areas in the 1910s and 20s, enticed in part by renewed demand for furs from the Hudson's Bay Company. These Inuit are called "Uummarmiut" - which means "people of the green trees" - in reference to their settlements near the tree line. Originally, there was an intense dislike between the Siglit and the Uummarmiut, but these differences have faded over the years, and the two communities are thoroughly intermixed these days.


Inuvialuktun has three main dialect divisions, plus a fourth dialect conventionally grouped here from a neighboring language:cite web |url= |title=Iñuvialuktun/Inuvialuktun/Inuinnaqtun |accessdate=2007-09-29 |]
*Siglitun: Until the 1980s, it was believed that the Siglitun dialect was extinct, but it is still spoken by people in Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour and Tuktoyaktuk.
*Inuinnaqtun consists of 4 subdialects: Kangiryuarmiutun, Coppermine, Bathurst, Cambridge. The Kangiryuarmiutun subdialect is spoken in the small community of Ulukhaktok. It is essentially identical to the Inuinnaqtun spoken in the bordering part of Nunavut.
*Natsilingmiutut consists of 3 subdialects: Natsilik, Arviligjuaq, Utkuhikhalik
*Uummarmiutun, the dialect of the "Uummarmiut", is essentially identical to the Inupiatun dialect spoken in Alaska, and is considered an Iñupiaq language, but is conventionally grouped with Inuvialuktun. Uummarmiutun is found in the communities of Inuvik and Aklavik.


English has in recent years become the common language of the Inuvialuit. Surveys of Inuktitut usage in the NWT vary, but all agree that usage is not vigorous. According to the "Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre", only some 10% of the roughly 4,000 Inuvialuit speak any dialect of Inuvialuktun, and only some 4% use it at home. [] Statistics Canada's 2001 Census reports 765 self-identified Inuvialuktun speakers out of a self-reported Inuvialuit population of 3,905.

With only a few hundred speakers and already divided into diverse dialects, Inuvialuktun's future appears bleak.



Further reading

* Harper, Kenn. "Current Status of Writing Systems for Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun and Inuvialuktun". [Yellowknife, N.W.T.] : Northwest Territories, Culture and Communications, 1992.

External links

* [ Inuvaluit Region - Languages]

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