Denakkanaaga Elders and Youth Conference Recap
Denakkanaaga, Inc., established in 1983, held its annual Elders and Youth Conference June 6 – 8, 2017, in the beautiful community of Holy Cross, Alaska. The theme of this year’s conference was “Listening and Speaking to Move Forward.” More than 300 participants attended the conference throughout the week.
Luke Titus and his grandson, Dakota Titus, provided the keynote address, marking the first time a grandfather and grandson did the address together at Denakanaaga. They both spoke on the theme of listening and speaking, and what it means to use those skills to move forward. Denakkanaaga executive director, Sharon McConnell, noted that Elders feel it is important for people to sit and listen before they act. Working together to create a unified voice for stronger action speaks to the core values of Denakkanaaga and the Athabascan people.
“I really appreciate Holy Cross for hosting the conference,” McConnell said. “They were gracious hosts and we feel the conference was a success because of the opportunity to have the youth and Elders speak, listen and talk about the big issues facing our Native communities.”
“We have really been getting the youth involved in recent years, which is important because they will be our future leaders and this gives them a good opportunity to learn how conferences are held and issues are dealt with,” McConnell continued. “This is the only regional conference held in a rural setting; it allows state and federal officials an opportunity to really experience rural Alaska. Some of the officials in attendance had never been to a village and were amazed with what a resident experiences in a day-to-day setting, such as hauling water and, of course, the slow internet. Lastly, Denakkanaaga is so grateful to Doyon, Limited because they are a major donor and more than half the Doyon board, including the chairman, was in attendance at the conference and we are very grateful for that.”
During the conference, there were Denakkanaaga board members reelected: Luke Titus, Fred Alexie, Sr., Patricia Salmon, Roy David. Youth representative, Katie Turner was also reelected. Newly elected board member was Oline Petruska.
Denakkanaaga thanks Sammie John for his service on the board and wishes him well. At the conference, Peter Demoski was also reelected as Elder advisor for the Tanana Chiefs Conference executive board.
The next Denakkanaaga Elders and Youth Conference will be held in Tanacross, Alaska, in the first week of June 2018.