With the opportunity to interact with board members, explore shared culture and heritage and address issues facing Alaska Native youth, approximately 20 college students and recent graduates gathered for a summer intern workshop, held June 17 at the Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) in Anchorage.
Sponsored by the participating Alaska Native regional corporations CIRI, Arctic Slope Regional Corp. (ASRC) and NANA Regional Corp. (NANA), the event opened with an invocation and prayer led by Elder Ron Adams, a NANA shareholder and employee.
For their first activity, interns were asked to represent how they viewed their culture through an artistic drawing. “I drew a bunch of figures to represent my family and me,” said CIRI descendant and CIRI Land and Resources intern Ravynn Nothstine. “They mean a lot to me, so it’s nice to represent it through a drawing.”
That activity was followed by a tour of the center led by ANHC Cultural Programs Director Yaari Walker. The morning wrapped with a panel discussion led by Elders and board member representatives from ASRC, Eklutna Tribal Council, Knik Tribal Council and NANA, who delved into some of the issues facing Alaska Native youth.
Elders, panel members and interns then gathered for lunch, which consisted of traditional foods such as muktuk (frozen whale skin and blubber), seal oil and caribou soup.
“I loved the lunch! No better way to come together than with soul food!” said ASRC Legal Department intern Stephanie Nelson.
After lunch, Ron Panigeo, secretary of ASRC subsidiary Alaska Growth Capital, led a history lesson on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980.
For their last activity, interns chose an Alaska Native language they would like to learn, such as Yup’ik or Iñupiaq. “I learned how to say my name, where I came from and who we came from,” Nothstine said.
The intern workshop closed with the students sharing the lessons they had learned from the day. “During the panel I found it very inspirational hearing the stories of the board members on their journey to be where they stand today,” said Nelson.