Category Archives: Alaskan Natives

The Challenging Life of Inupiat Teens

Being a teenager is tough wherever you live; but as shown in a documentary by filmmaker Nick Brandestini, living as a Native teen in rural Alaska is very complicated. Children of the Arctic tells the story of four Inupiat teens growing up in the small community of Barrow, Alaska.” J. Asenap, ICTMN

An image from Children of the Arctic by Director Nick Brandestini (Photo Film Website)

An image from Children of the Arctic by Director Nick Brandestini (Photo Film Website)

 

Excerpt: Children of the Arctic…By Jason Asenap, ICTMN

“The teens highlighted in the film include Josiah and Flora, a young couple in love who are trying their best to adhere to a traditional lifestyle at home while pursuing an education outside of their Native community. There is also Maaya, who gives suicide prevention presentations but craves simple teen activities like eating fast food and going to malls, and has dreams of moving to Arizona.

Samuel, 14, is an avid hunter and has been since he shot his first caribou at the age of six. Website

Samuel, 14, is an avid hunter and has been since he shot his first caribou at the age of six. Website

Finally there is Ace Edwards, who is being groomed for a leadership role in the community but becomes overwhelmed by the plans his community has for him.

Ace, 17, is a charming young man with a plan and a faux-hawk. Elders see Ace as a future leader of the community. Photo website

Ace, 17, is a charming young man with a plan and a faux-hawk. Elders see Ace as a future leader of the community. Photo website

The film addresses the challenges young Indigenous youth face today, including the role youth play in the continuation of culture and some of the tough decisions youth have to make, such as moving away and getting an education or staying home and helping the family in whale harvesting. 

Flora, 18, is a driven young woman who cares deeply about the preservation of Iñupiat culture. Photo- website

While Ace clearly has frustrations and thirsts for more traditional knowledge, Josiah and Flora fear that when they go away to college, they will be missing out on many events in the community, and valuable time with their elders…The community is heavily Christian and the influence of Christianity creates tension between religion and traditional Inupiat culture, a common theme in many Native communities.

Inupiat Teens. Photo- film website

Inupiat Teens. Photo- film website

The Inupiat and surrounding communities are also scarred by suicide. Ace’s brother committed suicide, and Maaya tries to help her community heal through her presentations on suicide prevention.

Josiah, 18, is passionate about Native traditions and an enthusiastic member of an Eskimo dance group

Josiah, 18, is passionate about Native traditions and an enthusiastic member of an Eskimo dance group

The film also shows that the heart of the community is in the whale harvest. After the whale is hunted, traditional songs are played as the women butcher and meat is cooked.”

Hold on to what is good, Even if it’s a handful of earth.

Hold on to what you believe, Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.

Hold on to what you must do, Even if it’s a long way from here.

Hold on to your life, Even if it’s easier to let go.

Hold on to my hand, Even if someday I’ll be gone away from you.

~Pueblo  Prayer~

Illustration for suicide prevention success story in NW Alaska

Category: Alaskan Natives

Native Survival Stories From Canada

“There’s this story I heard about two wolves: one angry and vengeful, the other joyful and peaceful. They are always at odds and fighting for control. These two wolves represent our inner struggle between good and bad choices. The story, from the Cherokee people, says that the one you feed is the one who wins.” R.Deerchild

Photo- Awakeningto the dance.

Photo- Awakeningto the dance.

Excerpt: … Telling stories of indigenous Canada, By R. Deerchild

A father uses the beauty of a drum song to battle his grief. Alo White is an elder from Naotkamegwanning First Nation in northwestern Ontario. He and his son, Nathan, would often record each other singing traditional songs while driving around town or out fishing. They shared a passion for keeping these songs and stories alive. But after a heart-shattering loss, Alo continued to sing and share songs on his path of grief and recovery.

Alo White. Photo- Indegenous waves

Alo White. Photo- Indegenous waves

A residential school survivor captures the demons of his past on paper. As a way to share and heal from the atrocities Augie Merasty experienced at residential school, he wrote The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir, the painful recounting of that story. His daughter, Arlene Merasty, talks about her father’s literary legacy. 

Book by Joseph Augie Merasty-

Book by Joseph Augie Merasty-

And a young Inuk fighter fights to make his dreams a reality. Collin Baikie is from Labrador. The mixed martial artist just became the first Inuk to win a professional fight.

Collin Baikie is the first Inuk to win a professional fight.

Collin Baikie is the first Inuk to win a professional fight.

 Jaqueline Anaquod has been raising awareness about missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. Her reason is chilling — she could have been another name added to that growing list.”

Photo- TML Weekly.

Photo- TML Weekly.

Category: Alaskan Natives