Big week coming up for Alaska Natives

Organizer Karla Booth, Tsimshian, is shown here in front of a chart used for planning the Elders and Youth Conference kicking off Sunday evening in Fairbanks, Alaska.(Photo by Joaqlin Estus)

Joaqlin Estus

Approximately 6,000 people are expected to show up for two big conferences in Alaska.

In Fairbanks more than a hundred volunteers, dozens of organizations and local businesses are preparing a warm welcome for approximately 6,000 people expected to attend the state’s two largest Alaska Native events.The Alaska Federation of Natives Convention is the largest representative gathering of Native Americans in the nation. The Elders and Youth Conference, hosted by the First Alaskans Institute, is the largest gathering of its kind. The two are usually held in Anchorage but periodically go north to Fairbanks.

The week kicks off with an Elders and Youth pre-conference “Warming of the Hands” welcoming ceremony tonight. Karla Booth, Tsimshian from Metlakatla, is director for indigenous leadership at the First Alaskans Institute. She said after Sunday’s welcome, participants then will move into a men’s house, women’s house, and LGBTQ and Two Spirit House. There, they’ll discuss rites of passage and healing. Following that will be a regional breakout session.

This is Karen Neagle teaching how to sew kuspuk aprons.
Karen Neagle teaching how to sew kuspuk aprons.(Photo by Karla Gatgyedm Hana’ax Booth)

Elders and Youth Conference

The theme for the 36th Annual Elders and Youth Conference taking place from Oct. 14 to Oct. 16 is “Qaneryararput Yugtun Piniqerput/Qaneryararput Cugtun Kayuqerput”or “Language is our super power.” The goal is to help elders and youth build connections and a sense of belonging, to transfer knowledge, and to discuss issues. The conference will feature discussion groups, youth and elder presentations, language workshops, and hands-on crafts, plus evening music and dance performances. Something new this year is a “Natives Got Talent” cultural celebration Monday evening.

A Dillingham Youth Group performing last year.(Photo by Karla Gatgyedm Hana’ax Booth)

The main conference begins Monday morning with plenary keynote youth speakers, the Hoogandorn brothers Oliver, 21, and Wilson, 20, Inupiaq, who climbed Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, in May 2019.

The week of meetings, arts and crafts sales, and traditional dance performances wraps up with the Alaska Federation of Natives banquet on Saturday. The one-day 8th annual tribal conference hosted by the Alaska Federation of Natives and the National Congress of Indians, will be held Wednesday Oct 16.

In the coming days, Indian Country Today will have more on the week’s activities.



Elders and Youth Conference
WHEN: Monday - Wednesday, Oct. 14-16
WHERE: Carlson Center (2010 2nd Ave, Fairbanks, AK)
TICKETS: Eventbrite
MORE INFO: First Alaskans Institute website
SOCIAL MEDIA: #EY2019 @firstalaskans

8th Annual AFN-NCAI Tribal Conference
WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 16
WHERE: Fairbanks Pipeline Training Center (3605 Cartwright Ct., Bldg. C)
SCHEDULE: Find agenda here
TICKETS: Free; RSVP online
SOCIAL MEDIA: @NativeFed @NCAI1944 #2019AFN #GoodGovernment #AlaskanDriven

Alaska Federation of Natives
WHEN: Thursday - Saturday, Oct. 17-19
WHERE: Carlson Center (2010 2nd Ave, Fairbanks, AK)
SCHEDULE: 2019 Convention agenda
MORE INFO: AFN’s website
SOCIAL MEDIA: @NativeFed #2019AFN #GoodGovernment #AlaskanDriven

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Joaqlin Estus, Tlingit, is a longtime Alaska journalist.

(Indian Country Today, LLC., is a non-profit news organization owned by the non-profit arm of the The National Congress of American Indians. The Indian Country Today editorial team operates independently.)