Our Changing World...

Ancestral Lands Are Diminished

Late in the 19th century, non-native people came to our world. The arrival of miners, trappers, traders, and fishermen led to construction of railroads and roads to the outside world. In 1959, Alaska became a state and governments claimed ownership of millions of acres of native land. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971 restored only a fraction of our lands.

Changing WorldTraditional Learning is Disrupted

Traditionally, children learned by observation, watching adults work and trying out tasks for themselves. They were expected to be proficient in most tasks by the time they were twelve. This prepared children to deal with a difficult and demanding environment. It required them to be industrious and hard working. They learned to value family, community and cooperation.

During the 1930's and 40's, our children were forced to attend boarding schools designed to assimilate them into western culture. The children had to assume non-native ways and were severely punished for speaking our native language. This tragedy resulted in a lost generation, removed from tradtional ways and unable to speak our language.

Today our children attend public schools and much of their learning occurs outside the family. The impact of television, radio, and the Internet has changed their sense of who they are how they fit into the world.

RoadSacred Places are Desecrated

Construction of the Alaska Highway and other roads paved over our ancient trails and gave easy access to our lands. Increased traffic, hunting, and fishing have severely impacted our subsistence lifestyle. Unaware of the sacredness of our trails, careless use by visitors destroys trails and sacred places.

 

Our Culture is at Risk

Loss of our ancestral lands, the inequities of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and other profound changes have disrupted our traditional culture. Federal and State laws have replaced ancient Tribal laws and many of our people sense that something essential is missing from their lives. Too many live in a state of grief and ill health. Some have fallen victem to alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, suicide, and poverty.

Our People choose to forgive and look to a future built on hope, determination, and renewed Tribal unity. We pray for the strength and wisdom that will guide us to find balance between our traditional ways and a changing world.

 

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