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Alaska Native Heritage Center's 12 Days of Christmas

Shyanne Beatty and Sophia Stevens tell us how they've begun to sell art and traditional wares online. And national correspondent Dalton Walker has more details behind the stories he's covering.
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Hän Gwich’in Athabascan citizens Shyanne Beatty and Sophia Stevens are our guests for the show.

They'll be telling us about how moving to a virtual platform to sell art and goods is helping this time of the year. The pandemic has made it impossible on artists with the closing of in-person bazaars and conventions.

Plus Dalton Walker, our national correspondent based in Phoenix, joins the newscast today. He's been working on two really big stories and is ready to share some details.

Shyanne Beatty | Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Photo by Angela Gonzalez, Athabascan Woman Blog

Shyanne Beatty:

"It varies for different artists. It's a couple thousand dollars per artist. The main reason why we also did this was because earlier this year we have the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention that normally happens in October. I would say that's the Super Bowl Sunday for all artists. And they're making thousands upon thousands of dollars in those three days that didn't happen this year. And then the holiday bazaars didn't happen. So our mission at the Alaska Native Heritage Center is to preserve and celebrate art language, traditions and culture for Alaska Native people."

"So we figured how are we going to be able to deliver this mission for our artists and help them out during this time? So we decided to do the 12 Days of Christmas. And this particular thing is that we're not selling online. What we're doing is working with each one of these artists who have inventory and making sure they have an online platform. I can probably say that when you speak to Sophia that she can tell you a little bit about how the Alaska Native Heritage Center is working with artists to be able to put themselves on an online platform. And a lot of people have never done that before."

Sophia Stevens:

"I'm so happy we're doing this because COVID has really impacted myself and a lot of artists and friends that I know. Usually our family has Christmas presents under the tree, and we don't this year because of no bazaars. Our biggest sales is Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Anchorage. And unfortunately that was canceled this year. And wow, I bring in thousands and thousands of dollars, and it helped us enormously. So I really, really miss that along with other artists, those that are impacted by sales." 

"Shyanne and the staff at Alaska Native Heritage Center recently brought me on and are encouraging me, promoting me to do sales online. And I really haven't done that because I don't know how. I really don't have the tech savvy to do that. So I'm learning now, and I really appreciate this because it has boosted my sales the last few days. Like I said, I don't know how to really do that all online. So it's, it's helped out a lot."

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Additional information for today's interview:

Dalton Walker:

"We learned about the disappearance of Jalakhia Finklea earlier this month, and just learning about what happened is very troubling and sad. Her body was found at the end of November, and it was positively ID’d last week. And she was only 18. She left under suspicious circumstances from her Massachusetts home. So we're just reporting on the news that she was found, and unfortunately it's not great news."

"Another story I was reporting on last week was actually a bright update for one of the Woodland tribes up in northern Minnesota, a band of Ojibwe. They learned that they are step closer to getting back some of the land that was taken from them decades ago. Around 12,000 acres were approved by Congress, by the House a year after the Senate approved it. And now it's on its way to President Trump’s desk for signing into law. And from what I found out even this morning, local reports believe that he is going to sign it. So that's good news for the tribe, definitely a win for them as they try to get back a lot of their land that was taken from them through the years."

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. She is also the anchor of the weekday newscast. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider.

Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker Walker is based in Phoenix and enjoys Arizona winters.

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