Celebrating diversity: A taste of culture

In celebration of Alaska Native and American Indian Heritage Month the University of Alaska Anchorage helped sponsor several events on campus. As part of the festivities on Nov.2, Alaska Sen. Georgiana Lincoln spoke on Native culture, which was followed by a potluck.

The Diversity Action Team, which is an official group of federal, state, municipal and university groups that organize events to commemorate diversity, helped put together the activities. There are three departments on campus involved in DAT: AHAINA, Native Student Services and Native Student Council.

“Instead of each of us doing things separately, this group has evolved to support each others efforts,” said Theda Pittman, chair of DAT.

To launch the celebration, Lincoln discussed the heritage of American and Alaska Natives in her speech to an audience of about 60 in the Business Education Building room 101.

“I'm proud of my heritage, every year,” Lincoln said. “I'm proud of who I am.” Lincoln spoke of the hardships faced by the Native community and progress that still needs to be made in Alaska. “I'm an American Indian, an Alaska Native. What does that mean?” Lincoln said. “I wonder that it's become a real challenge at times to be an Alaska Native.”

The only Native women ever elected to the state Senate, Lincoln questions the role that Native people are taking in the Alaska community and throughout the state.“Do you still feel that Anchorage welcomes you as an Alaska Native?” Lincoln said. “Is it just come out and sing and dance for tourists?”She talked about the people in rural Alaska forced to leave their home communities because of high expenses. Some legislators simply say if the community doesn't offer the necessities of survival a person should move, Lincoln disagrees.

“Some people simply just don't get it,” Lincoln said. “Where ever that is, that's our home.”

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Lincoln continued on about the state shutting down a school in Rampart a few years ago and the effects it had on the small community. When the school closed it caused the store in town to go out of business, then the electricity had to change and rates went up, the list went on, Lincoln said.“You've heard of the urban, rural divide, it's real,” Lincoln said.

She hopes to enlighten legislators about rural Alaska and teach them a different way of life. Although Lincoln admits that things are changing.

“From grandmother to daughter, how times have changed,” Lincoln said. “I just treasure those times sitting by the riverbank, you talk and you don't look at a watch.”Lincoln says that times are getting better, but change is slow. She says Alaska Natives need to be celebrating every achievement and positive movement that is made.

“Every time we stand together in solidarity, it is a victory for us and for the generation after,” Lincoln said. “We are powerful people, we can collectively change what's happening in our country and state.”

Following Lincoln's speech, there was a potluck offering a variety of different foods.

“The whole university is taking ownership and responsibility of addressing Native issues,” said Willy Templeton, interim director for NSS at UAA . “To bring a greater awareness, diversity has to be spread throughout the university, not just marginalized.”

 


There are many events being offered through different departments at UAA. The Sharing Tradition sessions, where local artists train others in their skills, takes place every Wednesday throughout the month of November. The sessions will be held in BEB room 108.�

Nov. 7

  • Jacob Simionoff
  • SimionoffAlutiig/Inupiaq
  • Bentwood Hats

 

Nov. 14

  • JoanneGraham
  • TsimshianButton
  • Blankets

 

Nov. 28

  • Moses WassilieYupik
  • Charcoal Drawing