FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Elders in the Alaska Native community are cherished, and serve as a channel to the youth to preserve their traditions and cultures. In an effort to preserve these traditions, the Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) began the 'Legacy of Our Elders' documentary series to give a platform and voice to those within the TCC region.
The 'Legacy of Our Elders' series gives a platform to Alaskan Natives within the Tanana Chiefs Conference region (Tanana Chiefs Conference).
"When I was a younger man myself, they [elders] always sat down and said 'we're leaving and there is no record of us.'," said Chief Chairman of TCC, Chief Victor Joseph. "That always stuck with me and so when I became the Chief Chairman, one of the things I wanted to do was make sure that we started capturing those stories that we can of our elders."
The Tanana Chiefs Conference received a grant from the National Parks Service in 2017 to visit various communities and capture the stories and experiences of elders from the approximately 235,000 square miles that cover the TCC region in Interior Alaska.
Although the grant has expired, TCC understood the importance of the project and continued the series. The 'Legacy of Our Elders' programs are typically aired at the Tanana Chiefs Conference Annual Convention; but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was cancelled and they have been releasing the videos every Friday on their website and Youtube page.
"Some of these stories... people literally cry because of the emotions and the message that is given by our elders," added Chief Victor Joseph. "There is laughter, there are tears in this, it is life experiences being passed on."
Since the debut of the series in 2017, Chief Victor Joseph says seven of the elders who were featured have died, emphasizing the importance of the documenting their stories.
"We were lucky to have them recorded before they left us," said Chief Joseph." It was just about making sure that we can pass our on elder's wisdom to our youth and to have a record of it for the coming years."
The "Legacy of Our Elders" series features 10 volumes with six elders sharing their stories in each volume. The entire library can be found at www.tananachiefs.org/legacy-of-our-elders.
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