2020: Catching fish, not COVID-19
Kiana is a traditional village on the Kobuk River about 55 miles away from Kotzebue. Because of COVID-19 cases close by, Kiana had to lock down several times. Youth couldn’t gather in groups, so they couldn’t go to the rec center, or traditional dance, or play sports.
Even the fish were hiding from COVID-19
The Youth Development and Culture Grant from RurAL CAP let them have a fishing project. Youth could check out a fishing pole and fish on the river. Adults helped them clean the fish and put it in the freezer. They dreamed of giving it to the Elders in the winter at Christmas.
One 12-year-old said she didn’t fish. Other kids were having so much fun, she told the coordinator, “Hey – I went fishing and it wasn’t so bad.” The next day, she came into the office, holding a nice-sized salmon – “Look, what I got! My first fish ever!” Cleaning it and saving it for the Elders filled her with happiness.
The program let the kids find a way to have a good activity where they could safely distance. Masks were worn at all time during the entire fishing activity – from picking up a pole to cleaning and storing the fish. They found a way to learn and practice an important subsistence skill.
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