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Native Pathways to Education
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Testimony

Submitted to the
Alaska Natives Commission
in connection with a hearing at

Fairbanks, Alaska
July 18, 1992

ALASKA NATIVES COMMISSION
JOINT FEDERAL-STATE COMMISSION
ON
POLICIES AND PROGRAMS AFFECTING ALASKA NATIVES
4000 Old Seward Highway, Suite 100
Anchorage, Alaska 99503

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Witness List | Exhibit List | PDF Version

 

Deposition Exhibit #2 - Angela Jackson

Alaska Natives Commission Hearing
Fairbanks, Alaska
July 18, 1992

Good Morning! I'm very honored to have the opportunity to speak to you on behalf of my people from the Ahtna Region. I was born and raised in Gulkana, Alaska. I attended Gakona Elementary School and graduated from Glennallen High School. I entered my freshman year at Glenallen along with approximately 16 Native students. When I graduated there were only four of us. In my testimony I hope to give you a few ideas which may help the future education of the Ahtna Native students.

The Copper River School District serves most of the villages in the Ahtna Region. Throughout my elementary and high school education, our district has only hired two Native teachers out of a total of 6 elementary and 3 high schools. As a student, the only teachers I had were non-Native. I feel very strongly that Native students would succeed in school if we had Native teachers to be our role models.

During my school years, I had a very hard time with Native pride. During the first few years of elementary school I remember having a beading class taught by one of our Native elders. I enjoyed this beading class because it not only helped the Native students but also gave the other non-Native students an understanding of part of our culture. Other than the beading class held for only a couple years I saw no other aspects of my Native culture. The teachers were White. Everything we faced was completely of the Western culture.

In order for the Athabascans to survive as a distinct culture, we need to regain the language in my generation. The schools in my district are minority Native. I understand there is a Native Language bill which would implement Native language classes in majority Native schools. Native language classes are very important to know if a culture is going to survive. I would like to see the Native languages implemented in all elementary and high schools. The language is just as important to us for survival as it is for others.

I have grown up in my region with the non-Natives knowing little about my culture. I strongly believe that most of the teachers knew nothing of my culture. I was taught by teachers whom most were recruited from the Lower 48. I would have felt more comfortable in school if not only the students knew more of my culture but also the teachers. The district needs to educate all the new teachers of the history of the region including knowledge of the local Athabascans. I would have also liked to learn more of the history of the region in school and more of the diverse cultures in Alaska.

My parents are foster parents and the Native girl who is living with us is attending elementary school. I also have a younger brother who is a freshman and a sister who is a senior in high school. This year our-village received a grant to hire a tutor for all the students in the village. Since the tutor has been hired we have seen a lot of improvement in all their grades. I am very proud of all of them. I believe tutors in every village would help the Native students as it did for our village.

I would have been more encouraged as a Native student to graduate if the schools in the Copper River School District made an effort to hire Native teachers, implemented in their curriculum the Athabascan language in both the elementary and high school, hire tutors in every village for the Native students, and require more to be taught of the region's history including the local Athabascans to the students and teachers of the district.

Once again I am very honored to have been chosen to speak to you. I hope this will help the future Native students to succeed in their education. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Angela Jackson
Gulkana, Alaska


This document was ocr scanned. We have made every attempt to keep the online document the same as the original, including the recorder's original misspellings or typos.

 

 
 

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Last modified May 11, 2011