I was thrilled for the opportunity to listen to the lived experiences of three Tlingit Elders today. As a product of the Anchorage School District, this had not been an opportunity I had ever had growing up. In fact, I have no recollection of ever learning anything about Alaska– or Alaskans– during my educational experiences in Anchorage (besides a unit in elementary school.) It is something I have longed for since that time and am so happy to know that all students (and teachers) in Alaska are now learning about Alaska and the people that have lived here for thousands of years. It is about time.
Hearing from Selina, Linda and David today was both moving for myself, as well as a great inspiration in some directions I hope to push my role as an educator in the future. I enjoyed the whole talk and at times I had tears in my eyes. Something that stood out to me and that I will carry with me into this next year was the passion and love that I could feel exuding from each of them as they spoke of their culture and language. After years of being forced to not speak their language or live in the way that was their tradition, I could sense the pain that had been caused to each of them. But through that pain has come a strength in moving forward. As David said, his people have survived for 10,000 years and will continue to do so. As an educator and as an Alaskan, I have joined their cause. I am excited to push my students in promoting and nurturing and being proud of their traditions, languages and cultures. And I look forward to learning about Alaska from each of their unique perspectives.