Alaska Native culture, Entertainment

Native Voices During AFN Week

According to Shyanne Beatty, American Indian and Alaska Native media professionals make up less than 1% of all of the media professionals in the US. I was happy to see many media professionals working behind the scenes during AFN week. I want to celebrate those who are working as journalists, producers, anchors, hosts, writers and emcees through some pictures. You may recognize some faces. My apologies in advance for not including everyone.

Youth Ambassadors at the First Alaskans Institute's Elders & Youth Conference. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Youth Ambassadors at the First Alaskans Institute’s Elders & Youth Conference. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Volunteer emcees at the First Alaskans Institute's Elders & Youth Conference. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Volunteer emcees at the First Alaskans Institute’s Elders & Youth Conference. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Youth Ambassadors and Emcees at the First Alaskans Institute's Elders & Youth Conference. Allison Warden and Marjorie Tahbone (both in front) mentored the youth. Photo by Roy M. Corral
Youth Ambassadors and Emcees at the First Alaskans Institute’s Elders & Youth Conference. Allison Warden and Marjorie Tahbone (both in front) mentored the youth. Photo by Roy M. Corral
Sharon McConnell and Anna Sattler behind the scenes at the broadcast of the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. Talking Circle Media broadcasted the AFN proceedings statewide. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Sharon McConnell and Anna Sattler behind the scenes at the broadcast of the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. Talking Circle Media broadcasted the AFN proceedings statewide. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Sharon McConnell and Anna Sattler served as AFN broadcasters over the years. They are veteran broadcasters and have recognizable faces in Alaska. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Sharon McConnell and Anna Sattler served as AFN broadcasters over the years. They are veteran broadcasters and have recognizable faces in Alaska. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

I spoke with Sharon McConnell and Anna Sattler for a bit during AFN. Sharon broadcasted a total of 23 years and Anna broadcasted at total of nine years. Sharon stressed they were broadcasting the proceedings of the AFN convention. Both Sharon and Anna enjoy hosting the proceedings of the AFN convention and Quyana nights. During Quyana Nights, dance groups are interviewed after their performances. Many of the groups fund raise year round to get to AFN.

The AFN Convention is the largest gathering of indigenous people in Alaska. Sharon and Anna were impressed the President Obama addressed AFN two times. Alllison Warden mentored a group of young ambassadors and emcees. Two of the youth worked with Sharon and Anna during the AFN week broadcast. Allison Warden, a Native entertainer, has mentored youth for the past three years. Sharon says, “They all did an amazing job!” The young emcees got to conduct interviews and emcee on stage.

TT of Nome operates the camera during the AFN broadcast. A lot goes on behind the scenes to make the broadcast possible. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
TT of Nome operates the camera during the AFN broadcast. A lot goes on behind the scenes to make the broadcast possible. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Shyanne Beatty and Antonia Gonzales are behind the scenes for Koahnic Broadcast Corporation. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Shyanne Beatty and Antonia Gonzales are behind the scenes for Koahnic Broadcast Corporation. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
KNBA News Director Joaqlin Estus hosted the radio coverage the AFN radio broadcast. Loren Dixon is KNBA's Director of Programming. Photo courtesy of KNBA
KNBA News Director Joaqlin Estus hosted the radio coverage the AFN radio broadcast. Loren Dixon is KNBA’s Director of Programming. Photo courtesy of KNBA
KNBA News Director Joaqlin Estus (upper left) and National Native News Anchor Antonia Gonzales (not pictured) teach First Alaskans Institute Elders and Youth Conference participants how to develop radio pieces. Photo courtesy of KNBA
KNBA News Director Joaqlin Estus (upper left) and National Native News Anchor Antonia Gonzales (not pictured) teach First Alaskans Institute Elders and Youth Conference participants how to develop radio pieces. Photo courtesy of KNBA

 

Thank you to all of the broadcasters, emcees, journalists, camera operators, and everyone else who made successful broadcasts and news coverage of the First Alaskans Institute’s Elders & Youth Conference and Alaska Federation of Natives Convention! Thank you for taking the time and investing in the next generation. Kudos to those up and coming youth for stepping up as emcees and ambassadors!

Alaska life, Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Native Voices Raise Awareness on Important Topics

One thing I love about the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Convention is the number of Native voices spoken and heard. Some resonate and some are louder than others. Tough topics are raised, discussed and acted upon. I am still processing all of the things I heard this week. I shared photos from the Hunt Fish Share and Vote Rally and the signing of the Alaska Native language bill. It is awesome to hear some of the messages from strong voices from around Alaska bring up topics that are important to them.

Some of the topics to bring up and generate meaningful discussion are sometimes the most difficult to talk about. Those topics include domestic violence, sexual assault, suicide, alcohol abuse and substance abuse. Yet, I heard some brave youth, adults and Elders speaking up about these topics this week first at the First Alaskans Institute’s Elders & Youth Conference and at the AFN Convention.

Tanana 4-H group members spoke up about domestic violence, sexual assault and alcohol abuse. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Tanana 4-H group members spoke up about domestic violence, sexual assault and alcohol abuse. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

The Tanana 4-H group spoke up at the Elders & Youth conference and the AFN Convention. Each of the youth had their own powerful statement to share. They are giving a face and voice to some of these issues plaguing our Alaskan community. They are not being silent about their experience. I commend them for raising the issues. Watch their video on the Alaska Dispatch News site.

Cynthia Erickson spoke about being a part of the Choose Respect campaign. She said something like, “Choose Respect is not just a day. It is something we have to work on every day.” What a great reminder that some of these complex issues are not something that can be tackled overnight, but they can be one day at a time.

Another strong voice throughout the week is Samuel Johns, an Alaska Native rapper and motivational speaker. On Friday night’s Quyana night, he debuted his music video for his song about domestic violence. Samuel is using his powerful voice to speak up about domestic violence at as many venues as he can.

Wake Up (Music Video) – Samuel Johns feat. Blaack. via Muhnee OndaTrack on YouTube:

“I’m very proud of Samuel. He’s grown in so many ways in these last few years. I’m proud that he is using his amazing capability to move mountains around him, like in this video. His influential advocacy towards what he believes in is awe inspiring. Keep on keeping on Samuel! Mahsi’ choo!” – Roxanne Peter

The 2014 Elders & Youth Conference theme was “Get Up! Stand Up! The 2014 AFN Convention theme is “Rise as One. It is tough to get up on stage and share your message. We cannot stand by and let their message go by in vain. Let’s figure out a way to keep the dialogue going and continue to find ways to tackle some of these issues. Thank you to those who bravely shared their personal stories to prompt and motivate change. They really give a voice to thousands of others who are too afraid to speak up.