We are so proud of ANHC interns Patricia Peters (Chilkat Tlingit & Yup’ik) and Peter Griggs (Yup’ik & Sugpiaq) for testifying at The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children public hearing over the weekend.
“When I was first offered the opportunity to provide testimony, my first thought was to ask not what my Native community can do for me, but what I can do for my Native community,” Patricia shared during the hearing. “Growing up, in the city and attending public school, I was taught nothing as to who my people are and how far we’ve come. Not knowing my background and heritage as well as my peers did, messed with my self image. It wasn’t until I reached out and got the information my soul needed that I felt empowered and honored to be who I am today.”
“Native youth are held back in our ability to achieve our goals. We are stuck in school systems that do not cater to our needs but indoctrinate us into beliefs about ourselves that are not accurate. Before I interned at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, I knew almost nothing about Alaska Native culture, lifestyles, and traditions. I thought Tlingit people were the only culture in Southeast Alaska and Eskimo was just a term to throw around. All I had really known is what was taught to me through my experiences in school and around my community. Education is key to understanding ourselves and our histories, and this is where I feel that our biggest challenges stem from. If you are in a city, you are taught from an early age what it is like to be a traditional native, but there is little opportunity to understand who or what we are today,” Peter shared.
The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children (Commission) is charged with conducting a comprehensive study on the programs, grants, and supports available for Native children, both at government agencies and on the ground in Native communities, with the goal of developing a sustainable system that delivers wrap-around services to Native children. The Commission examines the unique challenges Native children face and make recommendations on improving the current system by building on the strengths and leadership of Native communities. Quyana to Cook Inlet Tribal Council for extending an invitation to ANHC interns to share their perspectives, and Haw’aa to Patricia and Peter for sharing their stories and making their voices heard to create change for future generations of Alaska Native youth!