Thank you to Elders David Katzeek, Linda Belarde, and Selina Everson for joining us as guests today. We are so fortunate to be living and studying on this land and learning from Elders here in this community.
I really appreciate the political activism that Elder David Katzeek discussed. He described how his grandparents had given him the confidence to become politically engaged. He asked us to help our students build this type of confidence too. He said that the first Celebration was held in February because he wanted legislators to see how powerful it was. Through his advocacy, hundreds of thousands of dollars were invested in the future and culture of Tlingit people, particularly Tlingit children.
Selina Everson and Linda Belarde also spoke about the importance of passing their culture onto children. You could almost feel Selina’s joy when she spoke of watching young Tlingit speakers in the classroom. You could also see her pain, but barely comprehend it, when she spoke about her people being told they could not speak their own language. Linda asked her staff to love their students. This concept probably should not be, but is revolutionary. So many of our students are suffering great traumas. All three speakers addressed how children gain strength and build resilience from connections to their culture and connections to supportive adults.