Igiugig was recently selected as one of only 22 grantees nationwide out of a pool of over 200 applicants for the 2019 Native Youth and Culture Fund. The Village will receive a $19,100 grant from the First Nations Development Institute of Longmont, Colorado for a project titled: Reconnecting Yup’ik Youth to the Land.
The project grows out of an Indigenous perspective on the land and the unique location of Igiugig in rural Alaska off of the roads system. The three-tiered project seeks to develop the cultural knowledge, job skills, and leadership capacity of local youth. Objective one provides youth with a valuable opportunity to begin training as pilots using a flight simulator which is an FAA approved basic aviation training device. Local pilots will host one session per week where the software for their particular plane is used and they can sit side-by-side with students in the simulator and train them on their plane's features. The youth will benefit from access to aviation training and gain highly sought after job skills.
Through objective two, youth will participate in weekly Yup’ik language classes in which the flight simulator can be used to teach the complex locative system through language immersion. This creative adaptation of modern technology will enable youth to comprehend the Yup’ik way of describing locations through the cultural lens, which is best learned traveling the land. The simulator can simulate these changing environments and enable fluent elders to teach them in a classroom setting.
Igiugig now has only two elder speakers living in the village. The community feels an urgency to pass the elders' knowledge on to the younger generations before the opportunity is lost. The village recently finished an ANA language project in which youth advanced to the Novice Mid proficiency level so this project will be a perfect opportunity to continue advancing their speaking proficiency and document the elders’ knowledge in a more advanced area through audio and video recordings.
The last objective of the project will involve a Yup’ik culture camp in which all of the youth will come together to live on the land and learn subsistence activities from the elders who grew up this way. Hikes and orienteering challenges will enable youth to practice using the Yup’ik locative system they’ve learned through the flight simulator. The camp will focus on empowering youth to identify food sources, use local resources, understand climate change and environmental threats.
Igiugig Village also received a previous grant from First Nations Development Institute under the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI). The 2015 Seeds of Native Health grant for $39,794 was successful in boosting the local foods program, village greenhouse, and involving youth in subsistence foods.