January 8, 2016
Last summer, Hoonah began a series of culture camps for their youth using their Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Sub-Award. The youth were in the woods and trails finding gallons of berries, on the beach cutting salmon and halibut and in their tribal halls dancing their traditional songs and learning Tlingit protocol.
Hoonah’s plan was to uplift their youth in cultural immersion. They wanted to prepare their youth to participate in their community-wide effort to return to their ancestral homeland to open the tribal hall in the summer of 2016. They hoped their youth would increase self-esteem, develop leadership skills and improve academic learning so they can avoid juvenile problems.
It started with Elders teaching the youth the Tlingit language, cultural stories and the history of the Hoonah people. The youth also learned to carve and paint ceremonial paddles with an instructor, Herb Sheakley.
Besides preserving the berries and smoking salmon, they also learned how to cook fry bread and halibut chowder. After learning how to skin a deer, they made deer stew. From donated moose, they learned to cook moose stir-fry. Throughout the summer, they provided these foods at feasts and lunches.
The youth were able to serve the whole community and guests at the November Clan Conference with their berries and canned smoked salmon. They learned the protocol of serving guests and danced and sang traditional songs.
Using the second round of DJJ funds, the youth will learn how to carve large paddles with Tlingit Master-Carver, Wayne Price, which began in December. They will also learn how to paddle a dugout canoe together and learn the importance of water safety. With the rest of the community, they will all paddle the newly carved dugout canoes when they return to their homeland of Glacier Bay in the summer of 2016.
All of these camps were taught by Hoonah Elders and adults, including the Culture Coordinator, Darlene See, who had oversight of the grant. She said, “It was so good to see the self-confidence and self-esteem grow in the youth.” The youth simply said, “We want more camps!”
The next DJJ grant period will begin after June 30, 2016.