Alaska News

World needs to learn from Native culture

Jessica Alba said, "We need a cleaner Earth." We Native people have been saying the same thing since Day 1.

My Episcopal bishop told me for Native Americans to have survived what happened to them is the greatest survival story the world has ever known. I believe we survived to save the world. We have to stop global warming.

The villages -- our homelands -- are the best place to advocate and get the attention of the world. Whether they know it or not, the whole world needs Alaska Natives/Native Americans more than anything right now. Humans have angered Mother Nature. The world needs our sustainable and environmentally friendly mentality, spirituality and living.

Speaking to our traditional Native elders is like speaking to the land: Learn our Native people's ways. Our elders are leaving us, so we have to act fast. Time is running out. Ask them: "What can we do to save our villages and the world? How can we reach our lost brothers in the industrial nations and tell them to stop?" In the meantime, we can advocate against fossil fuel use, expanding unsustainable structures, China's growing hunger for resources, and killing people for resources.

As for our villages, the disgusting statistics continue to show our villages are disappearing. Most of the bright kids in my village have left to Mount Edgecumbe and when they get into college they never return. Natives have to go home and start nation-building to bring them home.

Don't wait for your corporation, Alaska Federation of Natives or Alaska Inter-Tribal Council. All you need is will power. Just do it! Organize the last surviving traditional elders and save our vanishing culture.

Let's begin an Alaska Native Renaissance: Go home and start a dance group, record or make songs, learn your language (don't stop until you do), and tell our legends and stories to our children. Nation-build: Start a small business with AFN's Marketplace Awards, build a house and have children, and hold events in the community halls; get involved at the school, tribal council, bug the elders until they teach you the traditional ways; go out on the land and hunt and fish.


Yes we can!

I want my fellow Alaska Natives to steward their homelands and protect the animals and all living things from those who have no respect or honor for our way of life or the living Earth. Madness has crept into the hearts and minds of our fellow humans who are industrializing the world into oblivion. We have to stand in the way. We have to go home.

Non-Natives have to learn to really listen to our wisdom about the land. As hard as it is for you, forget what you were taught and "really" listen. Your children's lives and your own may depend on it in time.

Come on, my fellow young Natives: Break your whiskey bottles, get any job you can. Wash dishes and mop floors to save up cash for your ticket home.

Our elders will act like we never left. In turn, we will become the elders, but we have to act now. We have to go home.

I hope to see you all there.

Matthew Gilbert's home is Arctic Village. His e-mail is