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Douglas Island Indian Association focuses on youth's role in preserving culture
Published: 08/04/2011 12:00:00
We always enjoy reporting about efforts to keep local native culture alive and vibrant, especially when the focus is on young people and their role in carrying their culture into the future. That's exactly what the Douglas Island Indian Association is doing, in ways that reach deep into their roots. We learned about their Youth and Elder's Program from John Morris, a respected Elder of the DIA, and one of the program's instructors.

"We've been working with the youth from 8th grade into high school; we bring them into the program that's sponsored by the Forest Service with Douglas Island Indian Association. We give them projects to work on during the summer that involve making button blankets, regalia vests, take them out and smoke salmon, pick berries, jar it, make jams, syrups, jellies and what not. But we get involved with more like a culture club where the elders pass on our knowledge to the younger folks so that they can have it. Today we're introducing the youth into button blankets, making regalia vests but also teaching them their clan, their moiety and what it represents, for instance we have a button blanket that's going to be a brown bear design we also have vests that are from the raven clan, thunderbird clan and the killer whale, those are four specific ones that we are working with today. A lot of the native corporations have been have been trying to figure out how to get our youth more involved with their culture, learn it so that they could retain it, and when they become elders it would be their turn to pass it onto their youth.

By: Rik Pruett -