2019 Elders and Youth Conference: language is our superpower
First Alaskans Institute, a native nonprofit organization, is holding their 36th Annual Elders and Youth Conference in Fairbanks. It began Sunday at noon at the Carlson Center and will continue until Wednesday October 16th.
The theme loosely translates to ‘language is our superpower’.
Karla Gatgyedm Hana’ax Booth, the Indigenous Leadership Continuum Director for the First Alaskans Institute, spoke more on what that means.
“Our theme highlights the special power of our languages," said Booth. "They bring power to our identity, to our self-governance and to our wellness.”
Booth says this event brings elders and youth together to support the transference of indigenous knowledge.
“An event like this is really important to Alaskan Native youth and other indigenous youth throughout our state because it’s an opportunity to share their knowledge but also learn knowledge that maybe they can’t get at home or get in their community," began Booth. "Knowledge that has been put to sleep for one reason or another. Hopefully when the youth walk away from this experience, they’re going to understand their responsibility that they have to help perpetuate this knowledge and these traditions we have.”
Booth says the conference aims to make sure all regions and cultures are represented.
“Though our theme is presented in the language of the Yup’ik and Cup’ik people, we try to make sure we have workshops and plenary presenters that are from all of our cultures, all of our regions throughout the state,” stated Booth.
On Monday, the youth keynote speakers, Oliver Tusagvik Hoogendorn and Wilson Mungnak Hoogendorn, spoke about their recent trip to climb Denali, the tallest mountain in North America. Other speakers included Dewey Kk’ołeyo Hoffman, Princess Daazhraii Johnson, Rochelle Adams, Luke Titus and Adeline Peter-Raboff, who all work on the new PBS Kids show, Molly of Denali. Vendors and workshops are also at the conference. Some of the workshops that have already taken place include salmon filleting and pickling, Gwich’in fiddling and jigging and indigenous gender concepts.
Booth spoke about their Monday night event called 'Chin’an: A Night of Cultural Celebration’. It goes from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and is open to the public. It will highlight Alaska Native dance groups. Booth says conference attendees will also be preforming during the celebration in 'Alaska Natives Got Talent.' It costs $5 to attend and is free for elders.
Over the 4 day event, First Alaskans Institute says they expect over 700 people to attend the conference.