Ask an Elder:  Donna Graham


Donna Graham (Gwich’in Athabascan)
Our Elders carry so much knowledge and I often worry about it being lost. I still have a lot to learn about our traditions, culture and about life. I wish I was closer to my Elders in the interior to hear those stories, and I’m sure there are many others in the same boat. 

I thought I would reach out to family and friends to see if they would like to contribute to a new short series, called Ask an Elder. Here is the first one from Sonja Yatlin who interviewed her mother, Donna Graham. Donna is Gwich’in Athabascan from Venetie and now lives in Fairbanks.

Sonja asked her questions and shared her mom’s responses.

What do you want your great, great grandchildren to know about your life?

That she was the best grandma. She said they had to work pretty hard wash clothes with a scrub board.

What is your favorite Native food?

Salmon strips!! Her dad, Dan Frank, made the best salmon strips. 

What was something you enjoyed doing growing up? Like, playing outside, camping or doing stuff inside…

Going out in the boat on the Yukon river with her dad! The Yukon meets the Chandalar River, near Venetie. She grew up in Fort Yukon.

What did you do on the Yukon River? 

Everything…pick berries, hunt and fish.

What advice does you have for the younger generation? 

Get as much knowledge as you can on how to fish and hunt to use in the future. Learn how to save and preserve like freeze, can and dry to get through hard times.
Thank you Sonja for interviewing her mom, and Donna for her wise words. If you would like to participate in the Ask an Elder series, contact me. Or comment below if you have anything to add. Thank you!

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4 thoughts on “Ask an Elder:  Donna Graham”

  1. I love this concept; all our elders have so much knowledge and experience which they can freely offer if we are willing to listen. We need to immortalize this knowledge and insure it is available to future generations…

  2. I grew up and always knew she was around and I I needed to talk or ask something she was one wisest of all and still is I will b seeing her when I get back to AK

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