Valerie Chadwick

Valerie Chadwick

Celebrating Alaska’s Indigenous People

  • October 11 – Indigenous Peoples’ Day
  • Month of November – Alaska Native Heritage Month

This month, we celebrate being Indigenous.  I wanted to share with you what that means to me as a Yup’ik woman. I’m from St. Mary’s, and I’m a member of the Algaaciq Tribe.  My dad was qass’aq from South Dakota (memory eternal Dad-Kelly Babich) and my mom was born in Cangiliak (memory eternal Mom-Vicki “Anaaraq” Benedict).  My Grandparents were Evan “Nanuq” Benedict and Emily “Manutuli” Afcan and later he remarried Susie Benedict.  I’m named after Susie’s parent “Qamgalrea”.   My oldest daughter is Chloe “Nanuq”, and her child is named after my mom.  My other three daughters are named after their relatives on their father’s side (Nick Andrew Jr from Marshall). I named my Grandson Liam after David Luke, from St. Mary’s, and my last child after Edgar Francis from St. Mary’s.   I was raised learning the importance of knowing who I am, and where I came from.  I was taught that we keep the memory of our loved ones when our babies receive their Yup’ik names. 

(Photo:  Valerie Chadwick, husband Rex, grand daughter, grand son)

Special Memories

“Try to live a good life and help one another.”

Celebrating Alaska Indigenous People

I have so many wonderful memories growing up with friends and family.  I haven’t been home in so many years and I miss being home.  I miss summers fishing, going to camp and then picking berries.  I miss when yuraq practice started as we prepared for the Potlach, I miss going out to manaq.  I especially miss my family and my friends.  I miss everyone whose since passed away.  But, this article isn’t about loss.  It’s about celebrating.  Let us celebrate who we are today and what we have to share with each other.  I am thankful because when my family comes to Anchorage, they haven’t forgotten me.  I know this because one of our values is our subsistence way of life and sharing with those who can no longer hunt and gather for themselves.  I watch the videos my friends share of the new yur’aq songs and dances they post as they prepare to introduce their young people to the community.  I get to meet new people and know exactly who they are when I ask “Whose your parents?  Grandparents?”.  I have the most beautiful collection of hand made earrings and cherish my kaspeq made by Mrs. Nick Andrew Sr. (memory eternal Nastasia).  I find myself sharing the stories I heard when I was young.   


I hope that you will celebrate this month learning more of who you are, and celebrating each other.  Try to live a good life and help one another.  We all have struggles and with each other standing side by side-we will become stronger.  As my elders told me growing up, “I tell you-because I love you.”

The Resource Basket

This is a RurAL CAP affiliated program.