Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Inupiat Language Survival through the Video Game Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)

Inupiat Language Survival through the Video Game Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)

Georgina Gill

Technology plays a critical role in reaching the youth and broader audiences with language revitalization. This study analyzes the Inupiat video game Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) developed by Cook Inlet Tribal Council Enterprises (CITC) and Upper One Games as a response to colonial trauma, language loss, and youth engagement. The video game developed as a response to colonial trauma through language revitalization in an interactive platform created by indigenous people to reach the youth of the community and a broader audience. Kunuuksaayuka is the oral story in Never Alone told by tribal member, Robert Cleveland, in Inupiaq about the eternal blizzard which represents Inupiat survival and resilience.  The paper focuses on primary sources from the Inupiat people, other Native American groups, and global players of the video game. Observations were made through ethnographic data, interviews, and historical documentation of the Inupiat people and their resilience to colonial trauma. Suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and language loss are factors of colonial trauma for the Inupiat people’s experience. The theme of survival is pertinent in Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) and Inupiat culture to keeping traditional knowledge alive. They have successfully reached a local and global audience through the interactive video game. The positive feedback of Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) from a broad audience has paved a new and innovative way for indigenous communities to engage their youth in language and cultural revitalization.

April 16, 2020 - Posted by | abstract


  1. What lead you to researching this topic? While it is very interesting, there doesn’t seem to be many people engaged in research with anthropological video games.

    Comment by Jessica Beatty | April 20, 2020 | Reply

    • Hi, I learned about revitalization techniques in my undergraduate linguistic course. The professor discussed the Inupiat co-developing Never Alone to engage their youth. I found this to be a fascinating medium and wanted to dig more into it!

      Comment by geoxrgins | April 22, 2020 | Reply

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