I have five new Athabascan heroes: Fred John, Jr., Harry John, Pam Sam, Diane John and Debbie Titus. They completed a 375 mile walk from Dot Lake to Anchorage on May 31. I also greatly admire Becky Semler of Oregon who supported the team during the walk. Tazlina (Harry’s dog) deserves and an honorable mention for leading the team the whole way.
They could not have accomplished their 375 mile journey without tremendous amount of support from family, friends, individuals and organizations. The children of Fred John, Jr. and Linnea John and really the family of the late Katie John worked behind the scenes to take care of logistics, food, and many other duties. They had many walkers who joined them along the way, and had people welcome them from each community. There were about 150 people who joined in the final stretch through Anchorage.
They had speeches at the end of the Walk for Tsucde celebration. Speakers included:
- Fred John, Jr.
- Anne Thomas and other representatives of Chitna Native Corp.
- Victor Joseph and Nick Alexia, Sr. of Tanana Chiefs Conference
- Benedict Snowball, Stebbins community (17 mins in)
- Liz Medicine Crow of First Alaskans Institute
- Gwendolyn John reads a message from 9 Tribes of Northern County of San Diego
- George Demintieff Holly dedicates a Dena’ina song (29 mins in)
- Nick Jackson, Ahtna Elder (36 mins in)
- Ahtna Native Corporation Board members (38 mins in) (2 men and one lady – Karen Linnell)
- Gwendolyn John (44 mins in)
- Harry John (45 mins in)
- Debbie Titus (46 mins in)
- Becky Semler (47 mins in)
- Diane John (49 mins in)
- Pamela Sam (49 mins in)
- Fred John, Jr. gifts gifts (50 mins in)
- Michelle Anderson of Ahtna (52 mins in)
- Fred John, Jr. final remarks (54 mins in)
Here is an audio recording of the speeches at the Walk for Tsucde celebration. Please email me at ayatlin @ hotmail.com or comment below with any corrections or additions to the list above.
What a momentous occasion to watch in person. Check out their Facebook page for many more photos and updates. I loved seeing the expressions on their faces as they finished their 375 mile trek in honor of the late Katie John and for the protection of Alaska Native rights, subsistence rights, sobriety and veterans.