Our Future Ancestors: A Story of Education in Alaska

What if Our learning systems reflected Our community and culture? CITC asked communities across Alaska to envision what culturally-relevant education in Alaska could look like.

Across Alaska, a transformative initiative has been brewing, shaping the very foundation of education for generations to come. Since 2022, the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) has embarked on a journey to communities across the Alaska to engage in listening sessions with communities. Our mission? To engage in profound conversations about the past, present, and future of education in our state, and envision what culturally-relevant education in Alaska could look like.

Fueled by a grant from the Department of Education & Early Development (DEED), CITC’s project delved into the essence of culturally-relevant education. Through this endeavor, a powerful narrative emerged—a tale of resilience, struggle, and the enduring spirit of the Alaskan people—led to transformative conversations about the importance of multigenerational learning, revitalizing language and culture, deepening Tribal connections, and healing from past traumas.

At the conclusion of this project, CITC produced “Our Future Ancestors: A Story of Education in Alaska,” a powerful short film that synthesizes our work on this project. This film, which was unveiled at the 2023 Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Convention, primarily tells the story of the federal boarding school system, which often removed Alaska Native children from their home communities, disrupting the lives of thousands of families and contributing to generational trauma still being felt today. “Our Future Ancestors” is more than a reflection on the past; it serves as a rallying cry for change. CITC’s findings from our year-long endeavor were shared with DEED and other partners and outlined a path to mend Alaska’s education system, hand in hand with the collective strength of Our People.

Watch the Film: Our Future Ancestors: A Story of Education in Alaska here: https://youtu.be/9ngN3Sm2FmE?si=LgaPR86vQPFx5eof

The work continues

The Our Future Ancestors website serve as a repository for the stories we’ve gathered.

But the mission extends beyond the screen. We’ve created a dynamic website, https://ourfutureancestors.com to serve as a repository for the stories we’ve gathered. Through the voices and narratives of Alaska’s diverse communities, this website weaves together the source material for our work, revealing the wisdom and passion of Our People. Listen to the impassioned voices of community members who have spoken their truths throughout the state. Their stories provide a path forward in building a thriving education system that benefits all Alaskans.

This is a world where we will collectively inspire change through the stories we remember and the new stories we create. Here we can share, dream, and empower each other through Our stories to imagine and put into action a new learning model for Our future Ancestors.

The work does not end here, though. We invite Our People to continue sharing their stories and aspirations, working together to build a thriving education system in Alaska. Whether you wish to create an account and share your own stories or simply listen and read the countless narratives and ideas shared by fellow community members across the state, your involvement can support change. Together, we can script a brighter future.

A map from reflecting the number of stories and ideas shared from communities across Alaska: https://ourfutureancestors.com/map#4/63/-154