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Deg Hitʼan
Alaska, copricapo e giacca in pelle di caribù, da ingalik athapaskans e dal fiume yukon.jpg
Traditional Deg Xit'an clothing in the Field Museum of Natural History
Total population
250 (speakers of language only)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 USA ( Alaska)
English, Deg Xinag
Related ethnic groups
Yup'ik, Koyukon, Dena'ina

Deg Hitʼan[pronunciation?] (also Deg Xitʼan, Deg Hitan, Degexitʼan, Kaiyuhkhotana[pronunciation?], Russian: Дег-хитан) is a group of Athabaskan peoples in Alaska. Their native language is called Deg Xinag. They reside in Alaska along the Anvik River in Anvik, along the Innoko River in Shageluk, and at Holy Cross along the lower Yukon River.

The Deg Hitʼan are members of the federally recognized Alaska Native tribes of Anvik Village, Shageluk Native Village, and Holy Cross Village. The Iditarod Trail's antecedents were the native trails of the Dena'ina and Deg Hitʼan Athabaskan Indians and the Inupiaq Eskimos.[2]

Their neighbors are other Athabaskan-speaking and Yupik Eskimo peoples: Yup'ik (west and south), Holikachuk (north), Upper Kuskokwim (north and east), and Dena'ina (south).[3]


The autonyms used by this group of Athabaskan people are: Deg Xitʼan (local people) and Deg Xinag (local language).[4] Sometimes the Deg Xitʼan or Deg Hitʼan is used for the language in English. Deg Hitʼan rather than Deg Xitʼan is a somewhat unfortunate spelling choice. Xitʼan is the orthographic representation of /χətʼan/ "people of (area)", a nominalized verb form. There is no contrast between /χ/ and /h/ in the verb prefixes of Deg Xinag, and acoustic evidence indicates that the normative pronunciation in that context is [χ] rather than [h].[5]

The most common older name is Ingalik (from Yup'ik Ingqiliq «traditionally Athabaskan; now also any other Indian», literally «having louse's eggs» < ingqiq «nit, louse nit, egg of louse» + a postbase -liq «one who is V; one who Vs; one having V; one similar to N»[6]) and its derivatives are offensive to the Deg Hitʼan. In the old literature, the name Anvik-Shageluk Ingalik (also Kuskokwim Ingalik and Yukon Ingalik) is used for Deg Hitʼan, and the name McGrath Ingalik is used for Upper Kuskokwim people.


  1. ^ "Alaska Native Language Center : Alaska Native Languages / Population and Speaker Statistics". Archived from the original on 2012-11-09. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
  2. ^ The Iditarod National Historic Trail Seward to Nome Route: A Comprehensive Management Plan, March 1986. Prepared by Bureau of Land Management, Anchorage District Office, Anchorage, Alaska.
  3. ^ "The Map of Indigenous Peoples and Languages of Alaska". Archived from the original on 2012-12-10. Retrieved 2014-03-20.
  4. ^ Beth R. Leonard 2007. Deg Xinag oral traditions: reconnecting indigenous language and. education through traditional narratives
  5. ^ Sharon Hargus 2009. Vowel quality and duration in Yukon Deg Xinag
  6. ^ Jacobson, Steven A. (compiler) 2012. Yup'ik Eskimo Dictionary, 2nd edition
This page was last edited on 18 July 2020, at 14:08
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