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CCTHITA 3rd Annual Culture Camp
Published: 06/30/2011 11:40:00
This past weekend was Central Council's 3rd annual Culture Camp at the Saga Site in Eagle Valley.
Ostensibly a chance for kids to learn about their culture, it turns out there's also a much greater purpose. It has more to do with facing environmental issues and challenges in order to ensure their culture's survivability in the modern world. And the kids aren't just being taught about it by their elders; they're taking it on themselves.
Leilani Knight-McQueen, the Environmental Coordinator for the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, gave us a little more information; "This is a youth led camp, so essentially the Central Council's youth environmental youth leadership team developed the agenda, they developed the ambiance and invited the youth to participate, and are heavily involved in engaging the kids in activities and proposing some environmental issues that they might network with each other around."
One of the Youth Participants, a young lady named Nicole, told us how her life has evolved because of the Culture Camps; "So when I was a young kid I really didn't want to, honestly I didn't want to have the responsibility of carrying on all these traditions, like probably most kids out there think. But now that I'm older I kind of feel like I want to and have like a passion to help other people."
Leilani then went on to explain; "In a lot of cases in environmental sciences and environmental work, we see fewer natives' involvement in that, and in fact, as a Southeast traditional value it's a part of our responsibility to be stewards of the land air and sea, and what we find is that kids today aren't even aware of those particular values. So through these kinds of programs we want to help them understand that those are our values, and then help them find their way and their responsibility in the environment itself. We only give them a taste, we have them for a few days and if we can get the values, and help them understand how to walk in both worlds, they're going to make the decisions."

By: Rik Pruett -