Atna is not the name of any particular language. It is the Dakelh word 'utna [ʔʌtna] meaning "non-Athabaskan Indian" and so may be applied to various nations and languages depending on the context. This has been a source of confusion to non-native people who have frequently taken this word to be the name of a particular nation. Most frequently it is applied to the various non-Athabaskan peoples to the West of the Carrier, such as the Gitksan, Nisga'a, Tsimshian, Haisla, and Nuxalk. However, the neighboring Shuswap of the interior are also 'utna. For example, Alexander Mackenzie refers in his Journal to Atna who were evidently Shuswap.
This word should not be confused with Ahtna, the name of an Athabaskan people of Eastern Alaska and their language.
Yinka Déné Language Institute © 2002
Yinka Déné Language Institute © 2006