"Ye shall make a proclamation with a trumpet in all your land. And ye shall sanctify the year, the fiftieth year, and ye shall proclaim a release upon the land to all that inhabit it; it shall be given a year of release, a jubilee for you." (Lev 25:9,10)
"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place... and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:1,4)
(HAMILTON, ON, CANADA) - On the 50th day of Pascha, the feast of Pentecost June 7, 2009, the Parish of All Saints of North America Orthodox Church (OCA) in Hamilton, ON, Canada, was blessed to release its 50th Alaskan Orthodox text as part of its on-going project to preserve the historic Native-language patrimony of the Orthodox Church in Alaska.
This project, now in its 50th month since its inception on May 1, 2005, has been zealously researching and transcribing historic Orthodox Christian materials in the original Aleut, Kodiak-Alutiiq, Tlingit, and Yup'ik languages. These texts are available for download on-line at: http://www.asna.ca/alaska.
Father Geoffrey Korz, rector of All Saints of North America Orthodox Church commented, "It has truly been a Jubilee, a revelation of Pentecost on this 50th day of Pascha, 50th month of publication, and 50th electronic text release. The gift of tongues poured out so richly upon the Apostles has also been evident in the works of our Orthodox Christian brethren in Alaska."
The fiftieth text was that of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke in the Aleut dialect of Atka Island from 1861.
Many of these works were originally translated by Saints Innocent (Veniaminov) and Jacob (Netsvetov) in the early 1800's. However, further research into the collections of original manuscripts reveal a more extensive host of Native Alaskan translators whose names have been generally forgotten until now. These are such names such as: Reverend Fathers Innocent Shayashnikov, Laurence Salamatov, John Orlov, Nikifor Amkan, Andrew Kashevarof, Gregory Kochergin, among many others.
In the latter 1800's and early 1900's when the U.S. Civil authority was trying to stamp out Native languages and cultures, the Orthodox Church steadfastly persevered to uphold the gift of Pentecost among the Orthodox faithful of Alaska - in their own languages. Today, as these rare and precious manuscripts begin to disintegrate, they have been rescued by God's mercy and re-transcribed in electronic format for the present and future generations of Orthodox Alaskans.
The release of the Jubilee 50th publication is a symbol of redemption, an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit in breathing new life into the diverse linguistic inheritance of Orthodox Alaska.
"In the beginning, when our Website design team began typing out its first publication in May 2005, we had no idea about the richness and depth of biblical and liturgical materials in the Alaskan Native languages. But the Lord has provided every step of the way, and newly-discovered texts would continue to appear out of the depths of various archives," said Father Geoffrey.
Particular gratitude is due to Very Rev. Paul Merculief, and Very Rev. Michael Oleksa of the Diocese of Alaska (OCA) for their constant availability for consultation. In addition, many thanks are due to the staff of the Alaska State Library Historical Collections for their assistance in locating and acquiring many of the texts recovered for re-publication.
There are currently fifteen known Alaskan Native-language Orthodox manuscripts still to be re-copied, electronically transcribed and published as part of the on-line Library Collection of Alaskan Orthodox materials at: http://www.asna.ca/alaska.