All of the Happy Cap High School students were welcome to participate in the Karuk Youth Leadership Conference last week. The most moving thought was a large poster re reminding all that Youth are our future. The event opened in the High School Hokanson Gym where Michael Thom introduced Sammy Davis for an opening prayer. The students and staff received t-shirts from the event which many have been wearing since then which keeps the lessons learned from the conference fresh before us.
The first speaker was David West from the Southern Oregon University where he counsels Native American Students. He shared some of his Algonquin background and how his grandparents moved to Oklahoma. Although he didn’t dwell on the experience all but the freshmen class have studies the Trail of Tears from history studies. Since his mother and auntie were sent to boarding schools from 7 to 12 years they didn’t learn the language and couldn’t pass it unto him. Therefore he is learning to speak the language of his tribe as a grown man of 62 years, Since there is no word for Grey in their language, his name is “white like old, eagle” which basically means Grey Eagle., He also shared how he was adopted into a tribe with a new name which meant “my brother I have found you” as a sister who had lost brothers adopted him,
David West encouraged the young people who have desires to help their family, their tribe, their community, their river and trees, to get an education so that they can. After a motorcycle accident, he was encouraged to go back to school on the G. I. Bill since he had volunteered for the service and was a veteran. He got a degree in Sociology from Rogue community College and then went to Alaska for a master’s degree in Community Psychology. That program included traveling all over Alaska talking to elders of a number of different tribes and he and fourteen other students in the program came back with ONE word that was most important to all, RESPECT David West said if you don’t have self respect, you are less likely to have respect for your family, your tribe and community, an even the earth and the whole world. He also talked about the storytelling in his tribe with twenty families in the long house on a winter’s evening with everyone from elders to the children listening together, He has been teaching young people how to enter college and succeed. He asked how many would like to do something for their people> for River” for forest”, Apply yourself and you can Creator Didn’t make no junk! You have strength and energy. The men out dip fishing didn’t get muscles for fishing dip nets in playing with an iPod.
In his travels he has spoken to the elders of many villages. He has spoken to the young women and children, but the young men weren’t there. In some many cases they were either in the graveyard or in prison. There are those who want to help young people succeed getting an education. At his door there are groceries for anyone to take if they are hungry and they can bring it back when they can. David West was born in a logging camp and traveled with his family in this area. It is a beautiful place. He has eaten huckleberries in many places around here. He encouraged the students, don’t look down on it because it is small, you will realize what a sanctuary it is someday. Many tribes aren’t on their own land, His own Grandparents went to Oklahoma and more Native Americans live in the inner city than any other place. …and closed saying, “May the Creator Bless you and we have opportunity to come together again,”
“We are responsible for the future, We are the Caretakers of culture, traditions and a singular person can have an impact on the community was the message Morgan Faucet broght.. Morgan isn’t much older than the students, yet he travels the nation with a message Ft rate photographer and plays the flute. He had a power point presentation that was very encouraging on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disabilities The example that Morgan and his grandmother shared was Alkali Lake where Alcoholism was rampant in the community with associated problems. There was a turnaround in the community and the community went from vast majority of alcohol problems to vast majority sober until all those who wished to live with alcohol left the community and it became 100% sober,
Following Morgan Faucets talk and playing of the flute. Students gathered in groups and wrote down whom were there positive helping mentors and why and if there were something the students could change about the community what would it be. Then the students took turns taking the talking stick and contributing ideas for writing on posters by the secretary of each group What is your vision for a healthy positive community What resources and tools do you need?> What would make it real? How can youth work with the council or village to promote healthy lose relationships and oaths to success?
The day was not yet over, there was a fantastic lunch at the Council Chambers and demonstration dances and traditional games. Many of the young people stayed. It was an encouragement that our young people are looking to work to bring healthy community and are on the pathway to success.