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Waqaa (greetings in Yugtun) School Leaders!

We hope this letter finds you, your families, and your students safe, healthy and well.

In 2014, Alaska was the first state to recognize 20 of our Indigenous languages as official languages of our state, uplifting thousands of years of place-based knowledge encoded within our distinct languages. Despite the incredible diversity and geographic intelligence of Indigenous peoples across the state, too often our vast history and ancestral knowledges are absent from educational curriculum – a fact that educators have sought to resolve for generations. This year, as educators throughout our state have worked so hard to provide a safe learning experience for our youth through the challenging times, an exciting opportunity has arisen to help address this knowledge gap.

We invite the staff and students of your school to freely participate in a rich virtual learning space created by Alaska’s Indigenous peoples in our 37th Annual Elders & Youth Conference held virtually this year from October 11-14. This free registration is a warm invitation to hold up our communities and ensure connection, learning, relationship-building, and understanding of our rich and diverse Alaska Native cultures is fostered and shared across the state.

The Conference will be widely accessible through both livestream and statewide television, though the interactive engagement, and participation will only be accessible via registration – we encourage early bird registration by September 24 at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/81872702457 to secure a spot and allow us ample time to plan accordingly and communicate well with registrants for this virtual gathering.

For our interactive Living & Loving Our Cultures workshops, we will be securing and sending relevant materials to participants – with limited availability, early registration will be especially important. Registration will continue through the dates of the conference.

Our theme for the Conference is “Asirqamek Apruciluta” (Sugt’stun, Chugach), “Asisqamek Aprut’liluta” (Alutiiq) – “We Are Making a Good Path” –  assures us that we are moving in the right direction – physically in our real world today and symbolically in life. This theme exemplifies our ancestral responsibilities to protect and advance our peoples and communities, including through this time of COVID-19 and the racial justice transformation across the nation.

Our flow for Elders & Youth will be as follows, though please know it is subject to change as we get closer to the event:

Sunday, October 11, 2020, 1 pm-5 pm
Warming of the Hands
Coffeetime with Elders & Healers

Monday, October 12, 9 am-5 pm
Plenary Presentations
Elder Keynote
Lunch & Learn
Regional Breakouts
Living & Loving Our Cultures Language Workshops

Tuesday, October 13, 9 am-5 pm
Plenary Presentations
Youth Keynote
Lunch & Learn
House Discussions
Living & Loving Our Cultures Art Workshops

Wednesday, October 14, 9 am-2 pm
Plenary Presentations
Regional Breakouts
House Discussions

Elders & Youth provides a special opportunity to celebrate our Alaska Native peoples, make connections, reinforce identity and belonging, engage in cultural practices and languages, identify issues and priorities of our communities, explore art and our creative worlds, strengthen our collective advocacy, and contribute to the greater community through the transference of knowledge between our generations. In short, we put the power of our cultures in the center and wrap our Elders, youth, and other participants in the precious collective love and nurturing environment they deserve.

Please let us know if you can or cannot join us at this special gathering. We are happy to answer any questions that you have by calling 907-677-1712 or emailing [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you.

Nt’oyaxsn (thank you in Sm’algyax)!

La quen náay Elizabeth Medicine Crow (Haida/Tlingit)

Gatgyedm Hana’ax Karla Booth (Ts’msyen)
Indigenous Leadership Continuum Director

Find out about registration, theme and more on the 37th Annual Statewide Elders & Youth Conference.