Village Survival! 2010 Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN)

The heating oil tank shown holds 500 gallons of fuel. At an average cost of $6.00 per gallon, this Fort Yukon resident would pay roughly $3,000 per month for heat during the winter. With extremely harsh temperatures to contend with, adequate heating can mean the difference between life and death in Alaska’s rural villages. Photo courtesy of Happy Energy Services.

By Tara Callear
Sun Star Calendar Editor

“Village Survival!”, the 2010 Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) convention theme, challenges participants to address issues related to sustaining rural village communities. Instead of emphasizing any one area of concern, implied is a sense of urgency in meeting all the basic human needs central to preserving the Native Alaskan traditional way of life.

Villages serve as a foundation for Native history and as a link to ancestral tradition. A culture so firmly rooted on the land runs the risk of significant loss if the connection were broken. Priorities for 2010 focus on securing this connection and preserving tradition.

Eliminating the disparities in education that plague Native communities is a high priority for 2010, along with an examination of the movement of peoples and on creating sustainable economies. A key component in the success of such initiatives is securing funds and influencing policy decisions. A variety of workshops, luncheons and forums will discuss these topics and more, including a U.S. Senate and Gubernatorial Candidate Forum.

Technology also has its place in the matrix of solutions to be presented at this year’s convention. A Fabrication Lab demonstration, a small-scale ongoing workshop, will introduce interested participants to potential applications of new technologies with an array of computer-controlled tools. This project is designed for deployment to rural villages. Stop by the tent outside the Carlson Center anytime during the convention to learn about opportunities for involvement in this program funded by the National Science Foundation.

If you respond more readily to visual inspiration, consider checking out the “Village Survival!” photo exhibit. AFN spokesperson, Erin Fogg, explained that the exhibit was to serve as a vehicle for people from urban and rural villages alike to share in their visions of what village survival means. She said, “The response was amazing”.

AFN is the largest representative annual gathering of any Native peoples in the United States. The scale of this joint action alone is evidence of the Alaska Native community’s capacity for self-governance. It is cause for optimism that there are solutions to the grave predicaments that many Alaskan villages find themselves in today.

2010 AFN Convention

Carlson Center, Fairbanks, AK
Thursday, Oct. 21, 8 – 5 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 22, 8 – 5 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 23, 8 – 3 p.m.

More information:

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