Bessie Cooley

Bessie Cooley

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Teslin, YT

Cultural Presenter

Bessie Cooley’s traditional name is Keyishi.  Tlingit is Bessie’s first language and she is fluent.  She spent many years teaching her language, but is now retired.  She spent many years working on the language with Dr. Jeffry Leer.  Bessie remembers learning Tlingit on the trapline, “24 hours a day, seven days a week,” and kept her language despite attending residential school because her father told her she would need it to communicate with her mother, who spoke only Tlingit.  For the 2015 Festival, Bessie will be showing a slideshow and providing commentary in Tlingit and English on how to cut up a moose.  She will also be giving a language lesson where she and Ruth Carroll, a Gwitch’in speaker, compare words in Tlingit and English.