Reflecting today’s Elders

I’m very grateful for Angie allowing the three elders to share their lives and culture during class today. I have heard about the Tlingit people losing their language several times already, but I didn’t really sense the wound until Salina told us about the banning of the Tlingit language in person. Some may argue that missionaries had great intent on spreading the gospel to Alaskans, but I believe it wounded the people and the culture more than they helped. I am grateful how strong the culture is getting today and hoping it’s only going to get richer. Linda told the most recent history of the Tlingit history, which basically gave us a broader picture of history. It was sad to hear that the Tlingit culture and language classes weren’t offered for many years. I wouldn’t know how to cope with the loss of my own language and culture. I am also impressed with David’s knowledge and his ability to use stories as inspirations for our lives. It’s impressive how he went from the bottom of the class in high school to being the top student in college. Thankful they were willing to share before they pass on.

Another thing that was cool to hear was how Linda told us that the only thing we can control is what we hear and the words we say to another person. We can’t control who hears us or what they say to us.

2 thoughts on “Reflecting today’s Elders”

  1. Jimmy,
    I agree with you that the arrival of missionaries was detrimental to the Tlingit people. Historically, indigenous groups have been treated terribly and continue to be forced into western practices. The inclusion of many cultures into our society will always be a continuous process we can only help to improve upon. Although the Tlingit people lost their language, I believe their oral traditions have helped preserve what we see today.

  2. I moved to Alaska 7 years ago, and I learned more from this meeting with the elders than I had learned in the past 7 years. Moving to Juneau, I see that the Native culture is so much stronger than it is in many parts of the lower 48; I hope that continues, and I think the Native language and culture that elders like Linda, Selina, and David work so hard to bring into the education of Juneau youth plays a big role in the strength of Tlingit community today.

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