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ALASKA MARITIME: Engaging Today’s Youth in Yesterday’s History
Alaska Region, August 15, 2016
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YCC Crew Leader, Marieana Larsen, readies a dancer for the final performance during culture camp.
YCC Crew Leader, Marieana Larsen, readies a dancer for the final performance during culture camp. - Photo Credit: USFWS
YCC crew member assists in securing the frame of a traditional iqyak built during culture camp.
YCC crew member assists in securing the frame of a traditional iqyak built during culture camp. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Sand Point students gather around to discover critters living in the intertidal zone.
Sand Point students gather around to discover critters living in the intertidal zone. - Photo Credit: USFWS
2016 Alaska Maritime NWR’s Youth Conservation Corps enrollees, (L to R) Aurora, Mario, Colton, Trevor, and Crew Leader Marieana, pose for a photo before teaching at Sand Point’s annual culture camp.
2016 Alaska Maritime NWR’s Youth Conservation Corps enrollees, (L to R) Aurora, Mario, Colton, Trevor, and Crew Leader Marieana, pose for a photo before teaching at Sand Point’s annual culture camp. - Photo Credit: USFWS

On the edge of tomorrow the Aleutian Islands are home to several small fishing villages and Unangan culture. Elders, serving as keepers of the culture, hold the key to the past and serve as sustaining members for the future. The adaptation of indigenous language, traditions and subsistence skills that are many centuries old are continued today through culture camps, engaging today’s youth in yesterday’s history.

 

The community of Sand Point hosts a week-long culture camp sponsored by the Qagan Tayagungin Tribe (QTT) of Sand Point. In partnership with Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), youth of Sand Point are not only exposed to traditional art forms, but also have an opportunity to engage in the scientific world around them.

This week-long camp aims at building community through culture. Just as fine grasses are woven into traditional baskets, so too are the enduring strands of a rich cultural history, carrying traditions to the next generation. Youth, grades K-12, engage in a variety of classes throughout the week including traditional basket weaving and beading, language classes and dance lessons, and subsistence living practices. They also have an opportunity to participate in environmental education lessons hosted by Alaska Maritime NWR’s YCC.

Youth from Refuge communities, ages 15 to 18, are selected to participate in the six week long YCC experience with Alaska Maritime NWR. This program aims to expose students to career paths and opportunities within the Refuge System. During their stay in Sand Point, YCC students developed and facilitated environmental education lessons ranging from tidepooling and migration, to tectonic plates and volcanoes. The 2016 YCC crew is hosting four students from Homer, Atka, and Unalaska.

"One of my favorite experiences about camp is watching the YCC teach. My job is to support them and make them shine," said Marieana Larsen, YCC crew leader.

The week-long camp celebrated the students’ hard work with a community potluck and final dance performance by the students. Community members from far and wide came to attend and support youth as they shared the traditions of yesterday.

Sand Point culture camp is sponsored by the Qagan Tayagungin Tribe of Sand Point, in partnership with Alaska Maritime NWR. This is the 17th annual culture camp hosted in Sand Point. 87 Sand Point area students, grades K-12, participated in the camp this year.


Contact Info: Kara Zwickey, 907-226-4675, kara_zwickey@fws.gov
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