First Alaskans Elder’s and Youth Conference

by Peter Twitchell

I attended the Alaska Federation of Natives Elder’s and Youth Conference in Anchorage, it was great! Thanks to Colin “Atauciq” McDonald for putting it together for us in organizing and facilitating the early registration gathering. It was a success!

I am looking forward to attending in 2018, good Lord willing and the conference will be in Fairbanks.

It is good to see our Youth from across the state gather and think about ways to address some of the important issues facing us today. During the Youth Conference, Elders listened to the ideas of our youth and the knowledge of our Native Culture and Alaska Culture which was brought forward was very profound.

It is hopeful that our youth will be the next Elders, taking our place in government, state politics and in fostering our Alaska and Native Culture to succeed in a new world. Our youth are bright and very capable of leading us into the future with our values and identity intact.

You and I know that we live in two worlds, the western and modern world and Native Culture with a set of values that conflict sometimes. We were taught that the only language we needed to succeed in our future was the English language and without it, our chances of survival were slim.

Just look where we are today, proving two conflicting cultures can live together and compliment each other. Our Native world view helps us to make the best of both worlds. Our psychological make up and our ways and values helps us understand who we are in the new world.

Our Native languages gives us a broader understanding of succeeding in the new world, and helps us to see where we are individually as we journey in life. We can have the best of two worlds and succeed absolutely.

It really helps us to understand each other better, respecting each other enough to work through difficult times which we will be facing in years to come as the world’s population grows, and resources become limited.

Our children and grand-children will be the next Elder’s and leaders of our people. Thank you AFN for drawing us closer together and appreciating more who we are today.

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