Jeanie Alice Maxim, One Of The Last Of The Old-Time Ahtna Elders, Dies July 8th, 2020

Jeanie Maxim As Shown On A Smithsonian Institute Cultural Film About Moosehide Sewing. (Photo, YouTube) Jeanie Maxim Lead A Life Shari...

Jeanie Maxim As Shown On A Smithsonian Institute Cultural Film About Moosehide Sewing. (Photo, YouTube)

Jeanie Maxim Lead A Life Sharing Ahtna Culture & Language

Jeanie A. Maxim passed away on July 8th, 2020 at Providence Alaska Medical Center. She was 79 years old. She was born on January 18, 1941 to James and Annie (Ewan) Tyone in Cross Wind Lake. She lived there until she was five years old, moving to Gulkana (Old) Village thereafter. 

She married Andeluka (Luke) Maxim on November 12, 1960 in Gulkana Village, and made their life there raising 7 children and over 57 grandchildren and great grandchildren combined. Jeanie had strong faith in the Lord, a prayer warrior and read her Bible daily, sometimes all day. She prayed daily for her kids and everyone, she was never tired of talking to people and family of the Lord or reading the Bible to them. She would always say “if it wasn’t for the Lord, I don’t know where I’d be.” 

In 2006, she began her beloved Ahtna Bilingual language teaching with Chickaloon, helping with the Ya Ne Dah Ah Book with Siri Tuttle in interpreting the language and writing of the book. She was a part of the Alaska Native Sisterhood when it began in 1955-1959. She also held other jobs with Ahtna Lodge, Ahtna Construction, Copper River Native Association, and Elders Cook for Fire Crews.

She was preceded in death by grandparents John & Katie Ewan, parents James & Annie Tyone, husband Luke Maxim, son James Edward Maxim, Peter Tyone, Nick Tyone, Andrew Tyone, Martha (Tyone) Snell, and sister Frieda (Sinyon) Sanford. She is survived by children Lonnie (Rose) Tyone, Darryl Tyone, Brenda Tyone, Ann Maxim (Dale Phillips), James Maxim, and Amanda Maxim; cousins Elmer Tyone, Gronia Glenda Ewan; grandchildren Daniel, Alberta and Loni Maxim, Gracia Revere, Sam (Tamanny) George, Robyn George, Erica (Rodney L.) George, Johnny Lee (Corretta) Dye, Lovey Tyone, Anthony and Shawna Maxim, Martina (Charles) Legge, Shilah Kellso, Deanna (Steven J.) Kosbruk, Ralph Kosbruk Jr., Jacob (Alexandria H.) Phillips, Natonya Maxim. Numerous great and great-great grandchildren.

Services were held on Saturday, July 11, 2020 at 2:00 PM at the Glennallen School parking lot. Pallbearers were Jerry Charley Jr., Samuel John, Caleb John, Danny Stevens, Bruce Harrison, Gary Harrison. Honorary pallbearers will be Sue Kelly, Kari Shaginoff, Sundra Shaginoff, Rose Tyone, and Bernard John. Burial was at the Gulkana Cemetery.

Jeanie will be missed by many far and wide. She lived a good long life with her children and grandchildren nearby always. Her memory will remain in our hearts forever.

Years Of Work On Behalf Of The Past

Luke Maxim, July 13, 1995, Glennallen. (Photo, Country Journal)
Jeanie Maxim was an important chronicler of culture. In June, 2019, she was interviewed extensively by the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, speaking of Athabascan moosehide tanning and sewing. She was an Ahtna language instructor.  She was part of a University of Pennsylvania Proficiency Project, and worked with Markle Pete of Tazlina on language studies of the Central Ahtna Dialect. and the Open Language Archives Community.

Some people in the Copper Valley don't realize that Chickaloon, which is a small village along the road outside of Anchorage off the Glenn Highway, is also a village where Ahtna is spoken. Although Chickaloon is not a part of Ahtna, Inc., it has a very strong cultural tie to the Copper Valley.

When Jeanie Maxim died on July 8th, 2020, the Chickaloon Tribe wrote a heartfelt tribute on their Facebook page. Chickaloon has been highly involved in language and culture rejuvenation for a number of years.

JULY 10TH, 2020
On Wednesday, July 9th, we lost our beloved Elder Jeanie Maxim due to heart complications. Our hearts go out to all of her family and friends that will share in the loss of Jeanie. It is hard to express this loss because Jeanie contributed so much to the revitalization of our Ahtna language and culture. She was one out of only 5 first Ahtna language speakers left on our planet. She was also one of the most important Elder Language Teachers because of her knowledge in teaching and her livelong historical and cultural knowledge.

Since 2005, Jeanie worked at the Ya Ne Dah Ah School (YNDAS) teaching the Ahtna Dene Language to Ya Ne Dah Ah Students and Teachers. She was a fluent speaker and writer of the Ahtna Dene language and taught younger second language speakers the Ahtna language with patience and wisdom. Jeanie was the last language Teacher, who learned Athna from birth, to teach at the Ya Ne Dah Ah School. She worked closely with Katherine Wade and Markle Pete until their passing. Jeanie became the only fluent Ahtna speaker that worked with the school staff to develop the 300-page Traditional Physical Response (TPR) curriculum utilized at the Ya Ne Dah Ah School. It will continue to be used for many years to come.

Jeanie contributed to the creation of many hours of Ahtna language recordings that have been archived at Chickaloon. Jeanie was passionate about teaching the language and culture to the younger generations, and she can be heard on the Ahtna  Youtube Channel and Ya Ne Dah Ah School Soundcloud social media outlets.

Jeanie also contributed to Yenida’a Tah, Ts’utsaede, K’adiide (Mythical Times, Ancient Times, Recent Times) An Anthology of Ahtna Narratives and Stories published by UAF/Alaska Native Language Center.

In January 2015, Jeanie became an Adjunct Professor for the UAA/Kenai Peninsula College (KPC) teaching Elementary Ahtna language I and II courses focusing on adult learners. She was scheduled to teach once again for the 2020-2021 fall and spring semesters. She was also actively involved in the Dene Language Conference at KPC and she was involved in numerous Dene and Alaska Native Language conferences throughout the state, lower forty-eight, and in Canada. Jeanie was also involved in teaching Moose hide Tanning with the Anchorage Museum, and has featured videos on the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center website.
Jeanie was part of the Ahtna Heritage Foundation curriculum project that created Ahtna language curriculum for young children.

Today around 2 pm, we will be gathering (social distance) at the Ceghaznae (Admin) building outside to wave and watch the family caravan with Jeanie as they drive by. Feel free to come and join us as we say good-bye to our beloved Elder.


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