Haines Respiritualization Meeting
May 17, 18, 19, 1985
Persons attending: Donald Peter, Anchorage; Dr. Pam Colorado-Morrison, Juneau; Eber Hampton, Boston; Bella and Simon Francis, Ft. Yukon; Jonathan Solomon, Ft. Yukon; Howard Luke, Fairbanks; Paul Olin, Galena; Blake Jones, Hydaburg; Matilda Lewis, Haines; Austin Hammond, Haines; Helen Andon, Anchorage
Guests: Doug Patterson, Juneau; Tommie Jimmie Jr., Haines; Mr. and Mrs. Peter Charles Johnson Sr., Haines; Dr. James Matthews, Fairbanks
May 17, 1985
Meeting begins with prayer by Austin Hammond
Our Father we are looking up to you this morning as we gather here as a family. We need your help, what we will say and what we need, we are asking you to give it to us. The word we use for each other that we could learn from each other, so we are here together. So pour thy blessing upon us and be with us. That I ask in Jesus name. Amen.
Pam: This is our third meeting, and final meeting of the task force. We have some nice things planned for this meeting. Austin is going to see to it that we can get out to the Chilkoot camp site while we are here. It is a really nice day, so it would be good if we could try to get out there this afternoon. Blake Jones is here from Massett, B.C. and he has brought a really good tape with him. He has helped set up and run the ReDiscovery program down there. It is a survival camp and it has been going since 1978. He is here to offer his help in any way that he can for those of us who are trying to get camps going and also to share his tape with us. It is really well made. I think we have (Ha-sha-goon) here too. It is Austin Hammond’s tape. It gives us the background on what happened before this camp got set up. We probably want to spend some time talking about where everybody is with their camps, how far along we are, and what the plans are for the future. We are supposed to have a guest drop in today, Dr. Matthews who is with the University of Alaska, Cooperative Extension. He is the director of the whole thing. He has been hearing a lot about these task force meetings and a lot about the spirit camps. So he should be by sometime today. The final thing before we break up, Don and I would like to talk with everyone here about a meeting we are getting ready to go to next week regarding the future of these camps, and maybe some funding and support. That’s about it, what I have taht needs to be discussed. Do you have anything else, Don?
Don: I appreciate you all coming down here. Some of you came a long ways. I’m kinda excited, and not excited about going to Paris next week, but I think we need to set down some facts about how to deal with those people. Maybe we can do that this afternoon like Pam said. Dr. Matthews, who sits on my policy board for my office, is coming down this afternoon. We are saying this will be our last and final task force meeting, but I doubt it. I see us getting together 2-3 times a year. I think this group gives us a lot of strength and setting down our objectives and goals for the respiritualization project. I keep telling Pam that we keep getting calls all the time from people who are interested in this project. I feel that something will come out of it. I look at 1991 as a last chance for Alaska Native people. I think we need to work with our own people to set their minds on who they are so they can deal with these different issues that are coming up, to determine their destination. In 1991, we will be the same as anybody in the State, hopefully. The resolution that AFN is taking to Washington D.C. to get some amendments on the land claims act, that will open the land claim act up to everybody. Anybody that wants something to do with Alaska, the different societies, organizations, they all want to put their two cents in there. It is possible, if they open up the land claim act that it might go on for another 10-20 years, but we don’t know that. I guess you don’t know at the AFN special convention, Ft. Yukon was probably the only one that voted against all the amendments. The people had a meeting up there and they said they want to take their chances and leave it like that. They are trying to get some education to deal with those 1991 issues. To deal with the issues, we need education. A lot of our people are getting that, becoming attorneys, and entering different fields where we need them at. We also need something from down here to work on these different issues and I think that is what we are getting at with these spirit camps. A lot of things are falling into place, like Pam said. There are probably some monies available from BIA and we have some monies available too. This is a start. It will be interesting to see what happens in Paris next week when we meet with UNESCO. Maybe they will have their checkbooks open, I don’t know. Also, I was talking to Gary King, from the Kellogg Foundation. They have been pretty good to us. They have been supporting our project for the past 2-3 years, with 2-3 million dollars. He told me that if we go to Paris and it really doesn’t work out, he actually said they have an open checkbook for us. They give out about 450 million dollars a year in grants and funds to especially to projects like this. I think the last thing, like Pam said, the weather is pretty nice so maybe we can go to the Chilkoot camp. We have a couple of hours to get some of our feeling across and talk about what we need to talk about.
Matilda: At our last meeting in Ft. Yukon, we talked about a helping hand, and the times we have mentioned that you might be able to help us. I think right now our main concern is our building. Next month our cultural program starts and we still haven’t move our building. We just never seemed to get the money from somewhere to help us move it. It will be the quarters for the young people.
Don: Well, Pam and I have been talking about that and we think we will be able to come up with some things. We will work on it.
Pam: Woody was saying today he was going (we wrote a proposal for subsistence and one of the items was to cover that for sure) to add two additions to Raven———-, with luck we should know about that in a couple days. If not, then Don will see what he can do, but it has to be done fast.
Don: That was Dr. Matthews who just drove up. His wife is with him, he will bring her in and introduce her and then she is going out shopping. But he wants to sit in and see what is going on. He makes a lot of the monetary decisions for my office so he is pretty vital.
You know, the Cooperative Extension Service, for the last couple years has spent more in the State of Alaska than they have ever done in their existence. I give credit to few organizations for doing that. They work with everything in the villages from gardening to tanning to developing educational curriculum. The legislature is looking at them as a vital entity in the State and it is developing the whole State. That’s why Dr. Matthews is here, he is interested, he is not a nosy white man.
Introduction of Dr. Matthews and Barbara Matthews, and the task force members.
Don: Dr. Matthews is interested in things like this with Alaska Natives and that is the reason I asked him to come down.
Pam: I wanted this morning to look at Blake’s tape.
Blake: The equipment is still coming down. Tome went to get it. The paper I have here is about the program in B.C. on the ReDiscovery project, so we will have a copy for each of you take back with you. After we see the video, you can read up on this. It is good to have this paper, if you are going to get a copy of the video. It tells what our camp is all about.
We started this camp in 78, in Massett because we found that we were having a lot of trouble with juvenile delinquents in the court house. We started off with, every two weeks we would have six kids out with three guides. Now our camp has expanded and we have six guides, two cooks, and maybe 3 or 4 volunteers every two weeks and we have 14 kids out there. Plus we have about 3 or 4 elders fly out to our camp and spend 4 or 5 days with the kids. They talk about the old villages around where our camp is set up. They teach them basket weaving and some of the old guys would talk about the carvings and old petroglyphs that we have around the old village sites. Since we started this program, like I said, our court rate, 40% of the list was juveniles. But since we started our program our court rate went from 40% to 18%. So we dropped it to half for juvenile delinquents in our village. Besides having this summer program, we have a follow-up program in the winter in the youth center. That includes all the elders of the village teaching them button blanket making, carving, there are some wood carvers and some of the guys carve in argillite, and basketweaving. We also use the elder’s homes when we get fish and stuff, we show them how to preserve the food. The way that works is, what our kids do in the village is, half of what we can up or preserve for winter, half will stay with the ReDiscovery program and the other half will be distributed in the village to the elders that can’t go out and get the stuff themselves. We have a big list in the office of the elders and we will distribute it out. It is hard to describe the program until after we see the tape, but out at the camp it is a wilderness survival camp and cultural heritage. What we are trying to do is bring back the heritage that the elders used to have. We are getting it back slowly into our village now. We teach kids how to survive. We tell them when the tides out, your table is set. When we first talk about it, they don’t understand but after 3-4 days with us they finally get to see what we mean the tides out, your table is set, because there is so much food out there. Plus in the forest there is so much stuff that they can pick and use for food, and build shelter out of driftwood on the beach. A couple of you read this article yesterday. The camp we have has a few simple basic rules that we use. We tell the kids what you kill, you have to eat. At our camp, we tell them that if you need any building materials, don’t cut any live trees down. Go down the beach and take the driftwood up and start building your campsite out of that. Instead of cutting live trees, even cutting the branches down, we don’t cut anything up. We try to keep our camp as natural as possible. On this program, we have a 35-mile hike down the west coast. The funny thing about this hike is that, our Armed Forces people did this hike one way, 17 miles for them. They were carrying a small day pack, a canteen of water and trail mix. It took them 3 days to do that hike. When they got back into Massett they wrote up a report for the government and they said this hike is not recommended for amateurs. Since we started doing that hike, we have 4 hikes down the coast every year, on the whole thing we have never had an accident on the hike. In our camp the only thing we had was a twisted knee in the 7 years we have been operating out there. The Attorney General and Social Service agency has given us a number one rating for summer camp and for helping out with the younger people. The social services use us in the summer. If they are going to put someone in a foster home and they don’t have a home right away, they refer the to our program and the kid will come with us for two weeks. It give the social service time to find a new home for them. If they can’t find a home, they ask us if we can keep them for another session, and we say —Sure, no problem, we will keep them for another session. It is for both Native and non-Native, this camp we have. Since the Armed Forces moved in we have a lot of their kids come out. When the Armed Forces first moved to Massett, we had a lot of trouble trying to adjust to them and them trying to adjust to us. We could feel the prejudice between the Armed Forces and the Natives in the community. But now that we have this program, we go up to the Armed Forces when they get new people into the village and we talk to them about our summer camp and about the people in the village, orientate them to living in a small town, how to act around us. If we say “Hi” to them, to stop and talk or something. Before we started doing that, when we used to say “Hi” to them they would just walk away with their nose up in the air. We finally started getting mad at them and told them—We’re here, and we have been here longer than you so don’t try to pull that high and mighty stuff on us. For awhile there were a lot of fights between the Armed Forces and the Natives. But now that we started orientating them, some of the people have been coming to our camp as volunteers.
Don: I think one good point that Blake was talking about is that the spirit camps have to include everybody. You know we have to work with groups here in Alaska, it doesn’t matter if they are white, blue, green or yellow. When 1991 gets here, they will work with us. We even have a couple Outside Indians here to work with!!, or Dr. Matthews!
Paul: Ever since I went to the meeting in Ft. Yukon, I have been thinking about how can we start one over there in Galena or Ruby. Yesterday when I was getting on the plane, I heard one of my friends tried to shoot himself, and he shot his arm off. Two weeks before that I had another friend who shot himself. It is a problem, to me it is a problem. To the elderly people, it just tears the hell our of them, the suicide. I am very much interested in Blake’s tape. There has to be a way to help these troubled individuals.
Don: It is good to hear about different aspects of camps around the state and around the country. The good thing about it is we can use it for our own camps. We have to realize when 1991 comes, those kids will be 21-25 years old, leaders.
Blake: What we found in our program is that for the staff and participant ratio is 2 participants for 1 staff member. You find with that ratio that you have more personal contact with the kids. We divide them up in groups, there will be a junior guide and a senior guide with four kids. When we do it that way, by the end of the two week session, there is such an attachment between the youth and yourself as a guide. They will come to you and talk about problems they have in town. You have been out in camp, but you also know what has been going on in town. You can take them aside and talk to them. There is one part in our program. We call it the Wanagun Spot, what we do is, every morning after breakfast, we give the kids pen and paper and tell them to go out there and find a nice quiet spot and stay there for 15-20 minutes by yourself. Write down your thoughts or even make a drawing of the spot you picked. We make them do that every day and then we look at it and get some of their stuff written down and use it in newspaper articles and magazine articles. On the last day we make them do it, we give them a pen and paper and an envelope. We say—Write down your thoughts or make a drawing, seal it in the envelope and put your name and address on there, figure out where you will be two years from now. In two years we will mail you what you wrote. What we try to do is not have too many kids come back every summer. There are so many different youths on the islands, we try to get them to go one year and take one or two years off and then come back. We found that it seems to work real good. We get new kids every summer. I have seen some of our staff, senior guides, that big macho ones in camp who are looking after them all, but when it is time to leave, I have seen those big macho senior guides with tears in their eyes because the kids are leaving. They grow so attached to each other in the camp. After that, when you get back into Massett, we’re out all summer, an d the mail is stacked in the office from kids who have been in the program.
Austin: Since I came from Ft. Yukon, I have been going to that elders meetings that we have in Juneau. The time when I came back I went to the Governor’s Mansion. I think you all know that they gave me the honor for what I am doing. We had it the Governor’s Mansion and then the ANB Hall, same thing. All this what we try to do for the children, I tried to explain, not only for this camp I am working for. I work in Juneau at the school with Julie Folta. She is teaching the small children. This is what I was talking about. Something we have to think about for the children. They need to learn what we know. The paper on the wall, my grandfather’s name on it: Jim David and Joe Whiskers. They are the ones who told me stories. They talk to me about the time coming, when they call on me. Grandson, sit by me. The story we been telling you since you were 9 years old, I want you to pass it on to your children and your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, they have to know it. If you don’t tell that story with the children, when you die, everything is going to die, what we are telling you. So pass it on, so they could learn it. This is what I am doing in Juneau, when I am talking to the teachers over there in a meeting. I told them, I need your help, you are teaching my grandchildren. What I have to say. I told them how the Tlingit work together. When I was sitting there, like what Don has here (tape recorder) put it down. And I don’t have nothing. I am just talking. How they train me through my grandfathers when they teach me what to do. That’s when they tell me about the little baby, you are going to have children. You have to talk to them. I got all girls. So what they tell me, I talk to them. When you talking to the newborn baby, just leave it in your arm and talk to them, before you drink water, before you wash your mouth, just talk—You are going to be a girl, you will become a woman, a married woman, you will have children. You have to listen to whoever is talking to you. This is what they tell me, even the boys side—You will be a man when you grow up. You will learn how to work for your children. All this, what they tell me, it is inside of our heads, it is stuck like glue. When that little baby listen, it stays there, everything what we say. Anytime when you start talking, everything is going to come out in front of you, like the tape when it starts talking. That’s the way it is. That is the reason why we have to talk to our baby, newborn baby, so it will stay inside the brain, what we try to teach. So this is what they do with me. I didn’t write it down. I didn’t go to school. I am just learning from what we are doing with each other. I never used to talk English. When I am working, I am learning. It stays with me, what they tell me. This is what I am doing with the children. The way I put it out in front of the teacher. These trees we see all around us, the roots are together. Spruce, hemlock, pine tree, birch, everything. What is growing under, some berries, salmonberries, raspberries, everything that is growing has roots. All the roots stays together. Then the grass grows and the flower grows. Right now you see the trees that are coming out now, just like a newborn baby they start growing and coming out. Our grandchildren now, they are just like a flower growing under the trees. Anyplace where you look there are different colors. When I opened the camp here, they asked me—What are you going to do, just the Tlingit, you are going to teach them? I told the—No, that is for everybody. From Hoonah, they told me I am crazy. I told them maybe I am crazy. We used to be crazy ourselves. We used to fight with our white brothers. Now we adopt them, different colors. My son was married with white girl. My daughter was married with a white. Some of them are married with the Filipinos. They are all different colors. This is what the flower is. All different colors, what is growing. This is the children, they are growing as the grass and the flower. They are newborn babies, they have to learn.
When I was talking there, the teachers were listening. This is what I want my grandchildren to learn, everyone of them. Like what I mention, all these different trees; we are all in the family. The trees have a life like we are, anything that is growing has a life, even the grass. My grandfather used to tell me—This grass growing, it is nothing to you, but to us, there is something in there that will help us. Any sickness that we get we will pick it out what will help us. So you have to respect it, just like you respect the one sitting next to you. All the flowers, the trees, you have to respect. Before you drop, you have to talk to that tree. Where you are going to drop it, you have to put something there, so it won’t break. Then you talk to the tree—I have a bed for you now, to lay down on it. Just to help us out, lay down on it. We need you. When it drops, it don’t break. Some people don’t do it, they just drop it. If they drop it on a rock, it will break. They have a spirit just like we do. This is what I am teaching at the school. All the salmon, all the seal, all the animal on the mountains, they are like us. So I told them—God create us in this world. Different place where we stay, we have to work to take care of it. If we go someplace, like I went to Arizona, they have the flat country. They have all different kinds of animals to take care of. This is the reason why I really started this place, I have to tell my grandchildren all what we have on the mountain.
There is a story about mountain goats. He (a man) got stuck on the mountain. He was chasing the mountain goat. Where it went there was a little trail. He followed it. There were a thousand feet to fall and that man got stuck. He just start shaking. He said the mountain goat has to go back. The mountain goat is eating it and he picked it out and give it to that man who was stuck there. So he start eating it. The man was stuck there. To him where he got stuck, it just flattened out for him. He has to stand up and the mountain goat has to go back with him until they get in a safe place. The mountain goat walked, and he didn’t kill it. So this is the story we have to learn together with our white brothers, whoever they are. We have to respect everything, like that tree when you are going to drop it. After you kill the bear, you can’t just take the knife out and skin it there where the sand is or the mud. The spirit is always watching you. This is what they are telling me. Stand behind you from that bear. If you fix it, put the branches and roll it and put another on the other place. When you are cutting the meat, you have to put something there again. When the spirit goes back, like us sitting here if somebody comes through the door—How did they treat you. Well, they treat me nice, the way I was laying down. They put some bed under me. The way they put everything there. Then they tell it, now you hear that, you go to that man. But if we don’t take care of it, if he tells we don’t take care of it right, then they will tell it—don’t go there. This is the reason why we got lots of killing from hunting, if we don’t take care of it. So this is what I have been teaching to the children, even our village. Tell the story about where you are born, what you know about the village, let them know it. I hear brothers talking about 1991, what they are going to do. Now the ones growing, if we don’t tell the story, like what I am saying now, if the time comes, if they need it, what they going to bring it up if we don’t tell the story about our land. I got a box there, there is a Chilkoot blanket in there. It is not writing like this. The Raven show us how to put it on. That is our history that I have there. We learn it from the Raven. This is what we have to teach the children. Our land, now that blanket I was talking about. That is a Chilkoot story on it. If I bring it out, if you see it. I don’t know if you can tell me the story on it. But we know it. Because we don’t tell you the story you can’t learn it until I tell the story with you, then you know it. I got quite a few of them in there.
So it is good to talk about the camp, about where he is teaching. Now this mountain I was talking about, the mountain goat. Some man is going to come up to teach the kids how to go up on the mountain. This is what we need in Alaska. You can see how high the mountains are, with the snow. This is what I was talking about, the mountain goat. Mountain goat they call them, but they don’t stay in the mountain in the winter time. They have to come down to the shelter, under the tree. I went hunting over there. That is when I see a place where the mountain goat gets together like we are. There is a lake there. They could see the sign of the mountain goat, the way they have been sitting around the lake. They get together, they are learning what we are learning.
tape 1, side 2
Austin: Brown bear, big ears. They could hear when we are talking about them. If I say something bad about the brown bear, I am not going to go very far. They will get after me. All these things what I try to tell. They know it. They are learning more. Even the fish. A long time ago, we used to use linen driftnet. Now we use nylon, all different colors. Now if I put linen in there, I wouldn’t catch any fish. They already know it. Our people used to live with the fish for one year under water. How many white people live with fish for one year? This young man, when he came back to his hometown, he became a Shaman. He is the one who told us how the salmon live. We know all the animals, all the fish, how they live. So this is what I was telling the white people when I go to the meetings. So they listen to me. We were talking about our subsistence. Right now, today, I was supposed to be with the Governor, but for this meeting, I have to come over. But I told Woody Morrison about it, my feeling, and he will be there. What we need to learn together, like what I said, there are all different kinds of flowers growing. Our people, our children, grandchildren, they are going to grow together. They have to know the feeling with each other when they are growing together. My grandfather used to tell me that story, I know it. They call me all in Juneau—Grandpa, even here in town. A little girl came to me, a white girl—Grandpa, you have to sit by me. This is what I am doing. I don’t want to push anybody out. I want them to be in, to work together. So we are here, and we have to learn from each other. That is what I want to talk about. Thank you.
Simon: I never been to school. I was raised out in the woods. At that time there was no school. But today I have a carpentry job, a good job. I like to learn at this meeting. I like to help people from other villages. We need help, a lot of people need help. A lot of teachers need help. We do things that look hard, it’s hard for us, because we don’ t know, but not hard because we find a lot of good things. From this meeting, a lot of things are going on stronger. We need peace. Maybe, someday someone will come in and thank you for helping. That way we learn. Since the Ft. Yukon meeting, I think about it. I like to help my people. My wife feels the same way too. When I was raised out in the woods, a lot of times my father went fishing and hunting every day. What my father catch we eat everyday, fish or meat or rabbit. We never see that kind of life nowadays. It is so easy. A lot of kids just don’t know, they need help today. I am glad I came on this trip. I feel good this morning. The weather is so nice. I hope God be with us. Thank you.
Howard: It is like Austin was saying. It is a good thing. That is what I am doing too. There is a story behind everything. Like the birds. Just like the dance, you know the twist. Everybody figure the twist came from the white people, but it didn’t. That is what I tell people. I work in the schools in Fairbanks. I don’t care who they are, I am willing to teach them. Some of the kids ask if I get paid for this. Some I do get paid, some I don’t. They are honest about it too. I tell them right from the bottom, I don’t leave nothing out. I go right straight through, how I learn and what I learn from people. I learn quite a bit from you people, how you are talking. I was here last summer and I learned quite a bit. Everywhere I go, someone has my work. Everywhere I work, I leave my work. Like these things here, the fishwheel and snowshoes. I leave my work. This way they remember, and they say—Where did that come from and they say—Oh, Howard Luke made that for me. Therefore they can follow it, they can see how it is made. Now that I am trying to do now, I have one kid to teach this summer. I am going to take him all over with me and I am going to teach him how to cut birch and how to bend it. I am going to tell him stories and tape it. He is from here, he is Tlingit, but he is going to talk mine. That is what I want. He wants to learn. A lot of people want to learn, but they just don’t know how to go right. It’s just like the drinking problem. I had my problem. I go around too, and tell people and talk to them about how it was done. I go over to the University once in awhile and talk to people about how it was done. What I say, I say—Nobody can help you, it is just on your own. You got to take it on your own. that is what I did. I just went out on my own. I was losing my friends. The only time I had friends was when I had money. My mother told me—Now is the time you better step forward. I won’t be living with you all the time. What I taught you, you got to pass it on. Pass it on to your nephew, to everybody. So that is what I would like to do. I work mostly around Fairbanks, but next winter, I will be travelling around to most of the schools. Whoever wants me to work in the schools, I will work there. That is what I will be doing. I would like to take that kid with me, but he has to go to school. In 1991 these kids, the younger generation, some of them won’t be able to speak for themselves. So I want to try to tell them to teach the young generation. Where I work, they listen. Last year there was a Spirit Days in Anchorage. I talked, I made everybody make speech. Nobody said nothing. I talk everywhere I go. So I said—Everywhere I go, I always talk to young people. People said—Oh, the young generation, they don’t listen. It’s not what I’m saying—they are listening. After I got through talking a young girl got up and said we are listening. We will use what you are telling us. It is a good thing too. These things you got to carry on. I tell a lot of my people that too. In Minto and Nenana, that is practically my hometown. I try to tell them that. I told one old man down there. He said—I try to, but they don’t listen to me. I tell him they are listening, but they aren’t going to tell you right away. He said—I learned the hard way so they have to learn the way I learned. I said, It’s not the way to look at it. I was brought up poor. My mother was the one that taught me all this stuff. How to cut birch, and all of that. I hunt for old people and they teach me how to do these things—when the moose is going to lay down. I tell the young kids that too. It is a good thing, so these things will carry on just like the dances and stuff like that. Some of them up there, it seems like they don’t want to carry it on. This year is the first year I am going to miss that meeting in Holy Cross. I wanted to go down there, but I don’t think I can make it. That is what I bring up at the meetings. I talk about these things. Some of them say they are going to start one down in Minto, last spring. They have a school everynight, but they don’t have a survival camp or nothing. If I start my camp around there, I don’t know where I am going to get, I guess most of the kids will come from Fairbanks, but I want to get them from all over. That way they will learn. I want to get a kid who knows how to do these things, so they could carry on. This kid that I am going to teach, that is what he will be doing too. Seems like he is going to catch on right away, the way he act. I know it will be good for them. That’s about all I got to say.
Dr. Matthews: I have listened and read the report of your earlier meetings and talked to a lot of people over the years and you have a very eloquent statement of concerns and trying to figure out how best to do something about it and striking on some way that makes a lot of sense such as the camp ideas where people can learn things and pass on traditions. It is a way of doing it that makes a lot of sense. It is one way and there needs to be, I think, lots of other ways like Austin was saying, getting more into the schools so that different settings for the stories so that young people could be exposed to different ways to do things. Not only in the schools, but university settings too so that there will be a broad understanding of some of the concerns. I think trying to figure out how best to put an educational setting together, I think the way you are doing it here is a good start. How to bring it about and extend into other structures is a real challenge. I’m interested in seeing how that will all come together. I think the next step is to bring people from those kind of structures into the sessions. I know, Don, we have talked about that. It is very, very important to move slowly and steadily I guess. I like the idea you had for camp, the results you have with young people by giving them positive experiences.
Don: The information we can talk about, what we need for our trip.
Pam: This afternoon, or tonight, I want to talk to you folks and get your ideas. When we go to Paris, one of the things they want to discuss with us is how do we know that what we are doing is working, how can we tell other people, in other parts of the globe, who are indigenous people trying to face the same situation with forced rapid change and problems with alcohol and drug abuse. They want to know what we are doing, and how we know what we are doing is working. I have spent a lot of time thinking about it. I have some ideas, but I would really like to have a discussion about it. That is the main thing on my mind for this evening as far as getting us ready to go overseas. Two years ago, two women from Ketchikan went over the United Nations office. They were from the Health Systems Agency in Ketchikan I had worked with them on other projects. It sort of threw them the way I got to know Don and how we came to form this support team and task force. Well, the women went to Paris and met with people at UNESCO and started talking about the idea of a cultural spirit camp. At that time, there were two officers within UNESCO who were really interested in this idea. They said they would like us to submit a proposal last fall. Of course, we weren’t even a task at that time, it was too soon for us. Now we are a task force, we are pulled together, but in the meantime something happened. The President of the United States pulled the United States out of UNESCO. So the meeting that we are having in Paris is called a informal meeting because that is political protocol. In reality we are meeting with a fairly high-level person there. They moved us up one level from last year in who we are talking with. Instead of calling it a formal meeting it is called an informal meeting. Maybe we just break even on that, I don’t really understand.
I think it will be good after we see this tape, we can get an idea of how after seven years a camp operation looks. tomorrow, we need to hit hard on what people are doing and what the status of all the camps are.
Dr. Matthews: One of the things I was thinking about while you were talking, and also listening to Howard is that camp is a real learning setting for Indian people, traditionally. In another perspective a camp is more of a recreation activity. How can we best describe camp as a very high potential learning kind of a situation so it means what we are trying to do with it. What I have heard from listening to Don talk about it, it seemed like a very interesting idea, but I didn’t really appreciate the significance of it.
Jonathan: Nobody does. You are learning by just being there. It doesn’t have to be an organized camp. Even if you go on the Yukon River and go to any fish camp it becomes a spiritual camp when three people speak their own language. Of course, when three people speak their own language, the Indian spirit is there.
Pam: It occurred to me last night that when we have been talking about camp, we have talked as though they all have to look the same way. Originally, when we were discussing this, we never imagined that every place that had a spirit camp would all be the same. Howard, when we were in Ft. Yukon, you talked about taking 2 or 3 young people as apprentices. That i a kind of a camp too. And what Jonathan was saying about dropping people off at fish camp, they don’t have to be formal, organized camps. It seems that the conversations we have been having are carrying us this way. I don’t want to close the door to other ideas especially since each community will have to come up with what will work best. That is the only thing I was thinking we have to cover in the next day and a half. Do you have anything that you would like to see added into our discussion?
Don: I would like Eber to speak about some of the the things we heard this morning from Austin and Howard and Simon and Blake.
Eber: I was telling Don when I was listening to people talk this morning it seemed like I heard different strengths and different approaches in different places that are all necessary and valuable. When I was listening to Austin, I heard that the stories are strong teaching stories. They teach values, identity, the basics of teaching a person how to live. Because our ethics or our values or the choices we make—whether to sell the land or not to sell the land, or to fish in one way or to fish in a different way—those things are not just in our minds, but also with our feelings. How we feel about the animal stories, or the land. So I heard that coming through on the stories and then when I was listening to Blake, I heard a different way of teaching. He was talking about the experiences, and the students writing a letter to themselves to read two years late. It seems like there was a different kind of survival skills that he was talking about. They were survival skills not just for wilderness, but survival skills for living in non-native society as well. When Howard was talking, I heard the Native technology, Native skills, Native arts and crafts—how we actually do these things. It seemed like for a cultural camp that all of those three were a necessary part of that for the learning. That is what I was thinking about when various people were talking. I was also remembering something about how do you get the camp manager. Or how do you find the right manager for the camp, how do you get the teachers, and the right staff. That seems very important. What Dr. Matthews was saying—how do you teach the teachers, or how do you get into the school. There needs to be some way of, maybe in the places where there is a camp going now and it is working well, maybe to bring in a few people to be teacher trainees or camp manager trainees. They could have the experience of actually seeing how it is done in a way that works.
Matilda: I think it is like what I said in Ft. Yukon. We had the same questions—where do we find all these people to teach the children. In looking at our own people we found that we didn’t have to look far. We found out our own people had a talent that they could offer. We found a survival skills consultant, a silver carver, a wood carver, a drum maker, a storyteller. We got a Raven and a Eagle storyteller on a volunteer basis. All the teachers we needed we found among our own people. So we have the ability to teach the young people ourselves. After all, the idea is to pass on to them what our parents taught us. I was just trying to imagine in my mind the kind of camp that Massett, ReDiscovery camp has. I still can’t untangle it in my mind yet, but in my mind I can see a camp. It is hard for me to visualize. I would almost have to go there and spend two weeks. I am camp manager here and I am still learning. That is the only way our people can be teachers now as far as taking it upon themselves to help the young people. Everyone here has an ability that some of us don’t have. I think it has been good for us to use our own people because in turn, it helps them too because they are helping Indian people. At lot of times, most of out teachers were senior citizens. When you get that old, and they feel they have nothing to do, they are put on a shelf. Well, that is not so because their mind is so full of ideas and things that they can pass on to the young people. I sure would like to go to the ReDiscovery camp. I learn more by seeing.
Jonathan: I agree with her. You can go to any village in interior Alaska and the resources you need for a camp is walking down the street. If an Athabascan woman can’t run a camp with 12 children, she is not an Athabascan woman!
Viewing of ReDiscovery Video Tape
Austin: Story about the dream.
Come out by the table there. We will find out why you are here. He doesn’t have anything in his hand. So he let me sit on the corner like this. In the middle he put his hand. He is talking in his own words. I don’t understand what he is saying. Then he turned around. there is nothing against you, what you are doing to help the people. So there is nothing that you are doing wrong. I woke up and I told my wife. When I fall asleep again, he came to me again, that man, a second time. He told me—Now this time you go up on that big table there. For sure we will find out. So I got up there, same thing he was doing. Everything was on that big table. It was full, there were a lot of people sitting around it. He was putting his hand on it. He came to me again. For sure there is nothing against you. All that is on this table belongs to you, whatever you want to do. So I have to stand up and pass it around. This is the reason I am not afraid of doing all this here. When I woke up I told my wife again about the dreams. When I got through, the last one, when I fall asleep, the same man came to me. This time he told me to go on the platform up there. We will give you something that you could go with it. So he came with a big box, square and high. You take this and look for the manager and the coach and give it to him. So I went and I keep asking—Do you know where the manager and the coach is? He is way over there. I keep walking. All the people are around. When I keep asking, they told me—Well, they are standing there. So I bring that box to them. They told me, they sent me with this box, to give it to you. I don’t know what’s in it. I give it to them, they opened it. There was a little piece of paper in there and they read it to me. Then they turn it over to me. When they opened the box and took that out, it is a catcher’s glove. It is all gold and shiny. The man who put it on told me, anyplace we are we are going through the whole States. Your name is going to be all over the world. What you give it to us. That is what they told me. This is the reason why I am not afraid to fix this one (video tape). I talked to my dancers and song leader about what we have to do. So this is what we got on the tape. That is why I send it all around. Some people buy it. So the children could see what we are doing here. So they will show you what I am talking about. That is the Chilkoot. That is what we fix about it, we talk about the subsistence, our landmarks. When we go up there, I will show you the other one since the flood. What lies there. It is there, up on top the mountain. I could show you that one.
Viewing of Austin Hammond’s Tape
Don: Films like this is really helpful for us to understand people from around the state, how they live and what they are asking for. I appreciate something like this. It gives us a better insight while we are down here and when we go out to Chilkoot camp. It helps us to understand things like this. It’s the same way people in Elutna are doing, and people losing their land in the North Slope due to oil. I wish we could do something like this for all the different areas around the State. I know that Dr. Matthews appreciates this. Being a non-native and a outsider!