There is a series of workshops meant to bridge the gap between Alaskan Native Youth and the Elders and the first one was "Kicking it with the Elders". A panel of 12 elders answered questions from a short list of topics the youth wanted to hear about. My daughters and I did not get to attend this due to my work schedule but we hope to make future ones.
In keeping alive our culture there are many things to be addressed and talked about and worked on. This really fascinated me since I was raised in Anchorage and am a 'big city girl' and have never lived in a village (My moms village is now a naval base though I have heard vague plans of acquiring it back someday). I raised my daughters to be and think as Native American Feminists and it is sometimes hard to read the things and customs that we would work to change somehow. It brings up many interesting questions for us as well as provides hope and encouragement to truly embrace our cultural heritage.
Here is an article about it that appears in an Alaskan paper: Young questions met with old wisdom
In reading this part: "One of their top concerns was preserving our language, culture and heritage," said Candace Moore of the group she helped facilitate. it helps us feel a connection with the rural youth since my daughters also feel this is a top concern. It was really interesting how they felt it was very hard to raise healthy youth under the shadow of both alcohol and suicide in their own lives. (You can read this one I wrote Interesting article about suicide rates in Indigenous culture in Greenland to get my take on it. But it was really interesting to read how they internalized their depression to help deal with all the horrors they were subjected to -namely becoming American and learning you were thought of as a worthless and primitive culture, though not in those words of course).
I know my mother had a very hard time dealing with all the things that happened to her and her village and did often drink to forget it all as much as possible. It is one thing that kind of really bugs me how alcoholism is something new introduced and not a traditional way of dealing with things yet it is viewed as a part of our culture and our heritage. It is so unfair and fills me with such anger! But it is a real problem now for many and we must face it honestly and openly as a whole to solve it and this workshop is one step toward that goal.
I invite you to read the whole article and let me know your views on it! One of my good friends on here said that letting my anger about it all show puts people off a bit but I don't want to lie and say there is no anger about it all. I would love to hear some suggestions for ways to discuss these things with other woman, especially the American ones on here, to help change things in a real way. It often bugs me when it seems to be that the whole American Indian "thing" is a done deal and can be forgotten. But my attempts to talk about it often show how angry it all makes me and I would rather express my goals of working together for solutions that are real and lasting. But to solve the problems they must first be addressed and understood, I think.
One thing about this article that really got to my girls was how it ended with talk of boys and men. They are working on ideas to help change this perception since we are believers that it is through the woman that lasting changes can be accomplished. I think it is because woman can think of the whole unit instead of the individuals and can then work toward things that need to happen instead of doing it in bits and pieces like usually happens.
It made me smile to read their description of the youths attending as "chomping at the bit" since that is often how I feel myself about it all...