Alaska Native/Indigenous People, Athabascan in the Spotlight

Moosehide Tanning with Jessica Denny

Jessica Denny. Photo by Angela Wade

I heard about a moosehide tanning camp in the Ahtna region in September. Jessica “Nanenełnaan” Denny (Ahtna) hosted a moosehide tanning camp with about 13 people in September. I had to find out more about it, so I reached out to Jessica. I admire how Jessica and her network are living and loving our ways of life.

Jessica is the owner of Alaska Leadership Group, a small for-profit organization that creates community and space for sharing traditional knowledge. Check out the interview with Jessica where she shares about how the camp came to be, her influences like Grandma Lena Charlie, how much learning and healing happened at the camp, future plans and much more!

It was amazing to see how everyone came together to either support the camp or attending. They built a strong cohort who plan to return next year. Jessica said, “We are all co-creators of this.” Grandma Lena Charlie told them, ‘If I am still here – I want you to come back.’

2021 Moosehide Tanning Camp. Photo by Angela Wade

Jessica gave some great advice to those who may be considering starting a moosehide tanning camp. She recommends reaching out to see who might be available in your community to teach and share. Ask about how moosehide tanning was practiced in your area. Each community has access to resources. Get a general understanding of tanning a hide and build a foundation. She says there are lots of resources online.

*Cohort – BUILDING A COMMUNITY*

Scraping moosehide. Photo by Deenaalee Chase-Hodgdon
Scraping moosehide. Photos by Deenaalee Chase-Hodgdon
Scraping moosehide. Photo by Deenaalee Chase-Hodgdon

Enaa baasee’ Jessica for sharing about the moosehide tanning camp and building a community. It is inspiring to see community doers stepping up to keep our cultures and traditions alive. I see it is much more than just tanning a hide. I’m sure this rich experience will carry the cohort far into the future in more ways than one. 

Follow Alaska Leadership Group for updates and upcoming events at: https://www.facebook.com/alaskaleadership

Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Paula Taylor – Grounded in Faith

Paula Taylor

A friend reached out to me and suggested I feature Paula Taylor (Yup’ik/Iñupiaq) on the Athabascan Woman Blog. Paula’s family is from Naknek in the Bristol Bay region and Unalakleet. She grew up fishing every summer. She’s a wife, mom of two, storyteller, two-time cancer survivor and more. I got a chance to talk with her recently. 

Listen to her incredible story of survival and how she persevered. She was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme over 30 years ago. She credits diet, working, attitude, keeping her goals, a strong support system and especially her faith in God to her survival. She got her degree in exercise science and wellness.

“I just had to hold it together and I feel like my faith really grounded me. My faith is really why I’m here.” – Paula Taylor

“Food I think is one of the most crucial things in our life. We are what we eat.” – Paula Taylor

I admire her strong will to live and appreciate the wisdom she shared on her journey. She’s retired now. She and her husband are proud of their children. Enaa baasee’ to Paula for graciously sharing her courageous story and what helped her to survive.

Paula and her family are very active.
Photos courtesy of Paula Taylor
Alaska Native culture

Reflections in Time of Pandemic

How are you doing? I find myself asking and answering that question in a deeper way now. Some of my old friends have even called out of the blue to check how things are going. It’s been a month of working at and staying home for me. I’ve had ups and downs, but have enjoyed connecting with folks virtually.

I see people reaching out to our Elders to check in on them and asking them about hard times. Some share how hard times are here – what their Elders shared with them about hard times coming. Continue reading “Reflections in Time of Pandemic”

Alaska life

Keeping Hope

I have been really thinking about what’s going on with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in our world. Like many people, I have been extra vigilant of washing my hands and taking other precautions, like social distancing. Follow the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Alaska Department of Health & Social Services for information and prevention.

Last week, there was a point in time when I found myself starting to panic with the news, event cancellations and travelers, etc. I thought about my Elder parents and family/friends, and how I want to keep them safe and healthy. Thankfully, I was able to pull myself together after grounding myself by talking to my family. I reflected on some of the stories people shared about how our ancestors survived the flu pandemic. It gave me the inner strength I needed after realizing that we can get through this. We all have a role in preventing and stopping. 

I asked my friends and family to share some messages and stories of hope. I’ve seen a few people posting stories about our ancestors surviving the early 1900 flu pandemic, reflections and advice. Enaa baasee’ to those who agreed to share.  Continue reading “Keeping Hope”

Alaska Native culture

Tell Your Story

Koyukuk River north of Huslia. Photo by Angela Łot’oydaatlno Gonzalez

Since I’ve had the Athabascan Woman Blog, people have asked me how to start a blog. I want to share some tips about how to get started and other ways to share your story.

Expressing yourself and publishing your creative work has never been easier, thanks to the blog. Blogging can be an avenue for advocacy to speak out on important issues in your community. Some sample blogging platforms include Wordress, Blogger, Tumblr and Weebly. Most are user friendly.

I share my stories, interviews with Indigenous people, photography, ‘how to’ bead videos and tips, and more. But I’ve seen blogs dedicated to photography, vlogging and podcasting. Find out the medium that interests you and try it. Ask people for advice. Continue reading “Tell Your Story”