Elder shares words of wisdom with Elders and Youth Conference Delegates

Published: Oct. 17, 2017 at 5:24 PM AKDT
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Strengthening Alaska native voices through transferring knowledge from generation to generation is the goal of the Elders and Youth Conference.

Clare Swan, a member of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe who grew up in Kenai, delivered a speech to attendees on Tuesday, illustrating the importance of identity.

"It's important for everybody here to believe that when you start to ask yourself about your native heritage wherever you are wherever you live you cannot leave that ancient past when you start to ask yourself and it calls to you that's your place calling to you," Swan said.

Swan also spoke about this year's conference theme "Part Land, Part Water - Always Native."

Swan said memories of when WWII started, a tuberculosis epidemic, and situations of families splitting leaving the oldest children to take care of younger ones, speaks to the resilience of natives.

Liz Medicine Crow, president/CEO of First Alaskans Institute, said some of the biggest issues currently facing natives are changes that have taken place over the past couple hundred years.

"There's been a lot of change and not all of it has been good for us and so we're at a place now of transforming, what that means in terms of our identity of who we are, our place here in our own homelands and how we work with the other governments," Crow said.

A new organization known as Native Peoples Action to advocate for issues impacting Alaska natives was announced on Monday.

Organizers are scheduled to speak at the Tribe Called Red Teen Concert held at the Dena'ina Center on Tuesday evening.