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Native Pathways to Education
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Submitted to the
Alaska Natives Commission
Social/Cultural Task Force at

Ft. Yukon, Alaska
June 9, 1993

4000 Old Seward Highway, Suite 100
Anchorage, Alaska 99503


Witness List | PDF Version


MR. EATON: Thank you. Evelyn.


MS. JAMES: Hi. My name is Evelyn James. I grew up and lived in Fort Yukon all my life. I'm 27 years old. I'm the mother of three children. And what I would like to talk about is local control for the school.

I came back from college when I old was I. I don't remember. Anyway, I was pregnant with my second child, Ruth (ph.) . And Sheila was preschool age, and I sent her to preschool at the school over here. And we didn't have a PTA association, that's what we had when I went to school at the university, we had -- we -- all the parents would meet and we'd talk about kids, we'd talk about -- we'd talk with the teachers and we all became friends.

Well, anyway, when I came back to Fort Yukon, I was -- -you know. I wanted to see a PTA, because we used to have it. But since the state, you know, gave the control over to the Yukon Flat School District, the PTA withered away, I don't know what became of it. And anyway, I tried to get a local PTA going so that, you know, we could get to know the teachers better. Because our teachers come and go, they don't -- you know, they live here, but then they don't associate in the community, nobody knows them. You see them in stores, you know, they step out of your way to avoid you. You know, you don't get to know the teachers that well; just maybe a few people I mean, a few teachers. Anyway, that PTA association never went anywhere, because none of the teachers showed up. I went around personally inviting each one of them, telling them, you know, we need this. You need to get to know, you know, parents of these kids. And the teachers wouldn't even show up.

So I threw my hands up in the air and I thought, you know, how am I going to work, you know, with teachers, how am I going to work, you know, because I -- and I was very concerned about my little girl and her education.

I threw my hands up in the air and I just quit, you know, and I didn't enroll my little girl in the public school. She goes to Arctic Circle Christian School, which is run by -- in the Baptist Church. Because I get to pick her textbooks every year, I get to associate with the teacher and, you know, she comes to my home, she comes to dinner, she -- she's a close friend. And I couldn't do that with the public school.

The teachers come and go, you know. And the -- I was on the local advisory school local school advisory committee. We gave advice; like one year we wanted to change the calendar. We wanted the kids to have one week off during Christmas and give them a spring break, because every spring we have a traditional spring carnival where a lot of the village people come in and we share culture, you know, we go to (indiscernible) dances, the kids stay up late. And they won't make it to school the next day, so we wind up giving them a week off during spring so that our kids could enjoy the interaction and stuff. But no. All the schoolteachers already made reservations to go to Hawaii for two weeks, you know. So, you know, we were -- I was on the LSAC and I couldn't even, you know, make -- I didn't make no difference. So I got off of that and I thought. . . but, you know, I just throw my hands up in the air, I'm disgusted with, you know, what was there.

And then now I attend...(laughter)...I --


MS. JAMES: I attend school board meetings, and we have a REAA school board here, and we have one person from Fort Yukon, one person from Circle, one from Chalkyitsik, one from Arctic Village, Venetie, one from Rampart. And there's 11 schools, there's -- I think there's seven or eight of them that take care of, you know, 11 schools, they're supposed to do that, but it's not being done.

And they come -- like Rampart, girl from Rampart, she's a friend of mine, her name is Rosemary. She got off the plane the day of the meeting and she was handed a 60-page packet of items that needed action on at that meeting and at that day. She didn't have no chance to look over it, and that was like her second meeting and she you know, she shrugged her shoulder, and how can you -- how -- you know, how can you act on a 60-page packet when you're handed it an hour before the meeting starts.

And I say -- what I'm trying to say is the REAA school board just does not work for local control right here in Fort Yukon, for me. It doesn't work for a lot of other parents.

Iím also on the city council right now. And we're disgusting, you know, we're just disgusted with the REAA school board. We want local control. We don't want a LSAC. We don't want a local advisory board. We want a local school board for our local school. And we -- you know, we need to get together, you know, on a monthly basis with those teachers. We need to -- we need this. And it -- we don't have it now

When those seven or eight school board members come to town, they get their -- they get most of their information, you know, the minute they get off the plane of items that need to be acted on. And then they got their own little concerns to -- that when they get to the meeting, you know; how can you get together with them. They arrive like on the day of the meeting or the day before a meeting. They don't -- we can't, you know, have a meeting before that and...anyway, that's my concern is that local control, we need local control of our local schools. I don't like it that, you know, we don't even get to know some of those teachers.

And that's the -- I agree with what John says, when his grandmother said she didn't want no help, that she wanted to have control of her boy. I -- you know, I sent my girl Sheila to a private school and I have to pay out of my pocket for her books, and I get to choose her books, but that's what I want. You know, the teachers aren't going to have nothing to do with me, I don't want nothing to do with them. And I think you need to take me serious, because, you know, I want my daughter Sheila to go to the public school, I would like for her to enjoy all the books they have there. And, you know, especially all the kids that go there, because it's -- right now, it's only -- she goes to school with maybe three or four other kids. And she feels like she's kind of like an outsider.

And you discussed earlier ANICA, is that -- ANICA, is that the company that owns the AC?

MR. EATON: No, it's a cooperative that was formed in the 1930's to help transport groceries, mostly on the coast (indiscernible) across (indiscernible).

MS. JAMES: Oh. And another concern of mine is that -- have you been to the AC store? My husband and I, we have three kids. We don't drink and we don't go out and buy drugs, you know, we -- penny pinchers. We try our best to keep track of every penny. We have a hard time putting two, three meals on the table every day, we don't drink, you know. I wonder how people in this town that drink take care of their kids, because, you know, it's hard for us, we don't drink, we spend a. lot of time out in the woods with our kids and (indiscernible). And either the store -- if you go to the store, a gallon of milk is 5.79. When it's only two dollars, 2.29 in Fairbanks. And they want -- it's just ridiculous prices. Two ninety-nine for bread that -- local bread that costs 90 cents in Fairbanks. You know, you don't have to pay two dollars postage to get it up here. That's another concern of mine, is the prices at our stores.

Thank you.

MR. EATON: Thank you.

MS. JAMES: Do you haveÖ

MR. EATON: Any questions?



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Last modified July 27, 2011