“Camp Goonzhii has been going on for the last 13 years and is very successful because it’s a community outreach tool for us to share the local people’s traditional knowledge, combined with science, taught by local Elders and regional instructors from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Many people have gone through this camp and received so much knowledge on how to survive and how to be a genuine person, and this includes the knowledge of our ancestors. The new generation of youth expect new technologies, and we try to find ways to combine these with ancient technologies for the greater good. It’s ongoing and successful, we’re doing this for the conservation of the natural resources. Our focus is on the health and well-being of our youth, and their learning and understanding of the continuing importance of our Ancestors’ knowledge.”
— Joanne Bryant, Camp Coordinator
Neets’aii Gwich’in Dena (Athabascan), Arctic Village, Alaska
The goal of this year’s Youth and Elders Camp in Arctic Village is to help raise self-esteem and other life coping skills through the Elders’ Indigenous traditional knowledge, Indigenous environmental education, cultural activities, and a discussion on issues directly affecting Gwich’in youth.
Based on the success of past camps which have similarly focused on keeping the traditional knowledge of Gwich’in language and craftsmanship alive; we are proposing to use the funds to support the building of sleds and traditional tools and spears as activities that would support a larger project involving the construction of a caribou fence (vadzaih tthał) on traditional hunting grounds near Arctic Village. This fence and corral were completed last year but the skills necessary for its effective and proper use must be revitalized. Camp will take place the week of August 24-28, 2016.
The Arctic Village Tribal Council, in cooperation with the Fish and Wildlife Service Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, will assist with the logistics of the camp, and the USFWS will bring in a science and biology element to the activities we participate in. This project has been supported by the SFF for 3 consecutive years.