This is the article we were supposed to read for this week: https://juneauempire.com/opinion/2012-03-15/future-alaska-native-education#.VC36l_ldWSp
It was a very in depth article about the problem that Alaska is facing with Alaska Native Education and future of Alaska Native Education. Paul Berg starts the article off with an interesting comparison. He gives an example of what happened to the Sami, the indigenous people of Norway, and what happened to their language and culture because of other culture overpowering them. He then compares this to Alaska Native children saying, “Sami children were systematically stripped of their culture and made to feel ashamed of their way of life, and experience similar to that of Alaska Native children from rural villages”. I would not necessarily agree with that statement. Coming from a rural village I know first hand that our culture may not be what it was but the people of our town were not and are not stripped of our culture and made to feel ashamed of their way of life. We have a time of year where we celebrate our culture and many other villages do as well. Not many people of our culture can still speak our language but that is not because they were suppressed from doing so, it is because we had to adapt to current times and be able to communicate with the people who moved to our village. The Sami parents were lucky in a way, as they were able to chose which school their children attended by legal protection of the law. That doesn’t really happen here, we do not really have the option to chose where we attend school without having to move great distances. It is either the public school or homeschooling. However, we do have Alaska Native courses available through universities.
Paul Berg does make an very important point about the future of Alaska Native Education. He recognized that, “The North Slope School District recently adopted an Inupiaq Leaning Framework, a move which Jana Harcharek, the Director of Inupiaq Education, describes as ‘a historic turning point for our district.'” The school district hopes that in the future they would be able to create their own curriculum to incorporate Alaska Native Education. Paul Berg also points out that there are a few foundations that help villages teach their culture to their children such as The Goldbelt Heritage Foundation and The Alaska Humanities Forum.
I think that more villages need help like this because although we have a celebration of culture period and a mandatory Alaska History class in high school, most of our language is gone and some of the culture has been lost because of the advances in technology. As long as we keep having our Culture Camp celebration period of the year our village will continue getting some Alaska Native Education. However, within the next 50 years or less I see most of the culture disappearing unless we have more than just one class offered for students to learn about not just our culture but other cultures of the Alaskan Natives. Paul Bergs last paragraph of the article states it beautifully, those of the non-Native communities “need to reject the archaic theories of cultural superiority, step into the 21st century, and recognize the importance of preserving Alaska’s rich Native heritage. Let us embrace the conviction that Alaska Native cultures have the right to exist, the right to perpetuate themselves, and the right to control their own educational destiny.”
This article was beautifully written and points out very important problems and improvements with Alaska Native Education.
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