Our Youth are the Hope for the Future

by Peter Twitchell

Today marks the day of the 2018 Alaska Federation of Natives Convention held at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage. The Elders and Youth Conference begins today (Oct. 15th, 2018) – we celebrate our greatest resources and our future leaders.
Our Youth are our hope for a brighter future in Native Country. Change for the better for our people is on the horizon where we will no longer have discrimination in our institutions of learning and in every workplace.
We are allowed to look back in our history for a moment. For too long our children suffered the consequences of discrimination. Remember we had to abandon our native languages, losing our sense of who we were without our languages being spoken. We languished in a generation of lost identity, lost between two worlds – the western and our indigenous world – only to be discriminated against.
Take the last forty years, the discrimination upon native people is alive and still exists in our workplaces and institutions of learning. Our children who were really disabled with learning problems like ADHD, FAS-FAE, just as an example, were punished with failing grades in schools. Some who wanted to participate in sports like basketball, volleyball, were benched. They referred to these kids as bench warmers and not afforded full participation.
Take for instance a kid who was deaf. They weren’t even taught to spell their name. He learned to write his name at 9 years of age when he was brought to Anchorage.
Look at self-determination. What is this? Just a word perhaps. I worked in places where some people came and really helped us in our jobs while others came for their own benefit and their friends who weren’t from native country.
These people tend to manipulate their board of directors and like puppets we allowed them to and some still do. How effective are these people when their stipends begin to outweigh the welfare of the communities and regions in our state?
Now a Texas judge is telling us our native adoptions against non-native people are illegal because it is discriminatory.