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Eliza Jones

Eliza Jones

Eliza Jones was born in 1938 to Little Peter and Josie Peter at a camp near Cutoff, Alaska. Her Native name is Neelteloyeeneelno, which means "mixed talent" or "having more than one project going at the same time." She was named by Grandma Cecilia Happy, who gave her the name because her grandma was a very talented person and she was a good seamstress, fisher person and made good dried fish. Cecilia was a good trapper and hunter so she gave Eliza the name as a way of carrying on the story of her life and also wishing Eliza would inherit some of her talent. Eliza was raised near her grandparents, so she had considerable exposure to fluent Koyukon language speakers. Ever since, she has been fascinated with the Koyukon language and traditional knowledge. From 1973 to 1990, Eliza worked at the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as a language expert and translator. She co-authored the Koyukon Athabascan Dictionary (J. Jette and E. Jones, 2000, Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks). In recognition of her language contributions, in 1990, Eliza received her honorary doctorate degree from the University of Alaska. In 1959, she married Benedict Jones from Koyukuk and they had 9 children. After retirement, the couple moved from Fairbanks back to Koyukuk, where Eliza has remained active in the community: serving on the tribal council, working as a Koyukon studies teacher in the school, and continuing to provide language translation expertise. She and Benedict remain active in language preservation efforts, including in recent years an effort to document traditional place names in the Koyukuk River region. For more about Eliza Jones, see a profile of her prepared for the UAF Centennial Celebration.

Date of Birth:
Feb 28, 1938
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