Jeff Clarke, CEO
The fourth stop of our Local Matters 2015 series found us in Anchorage, Alaska with leaders from more than 35 organizations, from Bristol Bay to Washington, D.C. For many, it was a life-changing experience.
With so many philanthropists and government entities in state, across the region and country committed to or wanting to learn about and partner successfully with indigenous communities, what better place to learn than in Alaska and from the Alaska Native community? As with our Local Matters events in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, Local Matters: Alaska + Indigenous Communities was not a conference, but a conversation bringing together a blend of cross-sector community investors focused on their place. In the case of Local Matters: Alaska + Indigenous Communities, it was also a unique experiential learning opportunity with structured individual and group reflection wrapped around it that far surpassed all expectations — even our own!
From October 11 to 14, we were welcomed as guests to First Alaskans Institute's 32nd annual Elders and Youth Conference and to the Alaska Federation of Natives — National Congress of American Indians 4th annual Tribal Conference with state and federal policymakers. We were privy to the inner workings of a 10,000-year-old culture as elders passed on their wisdom and traditions to a new generation of Native voices. Despite more than 220 federally-recognized tribes in Alaska, each community was honored and rejoiced equally, and spent a week united in both the challenges they share and the opportunities that lie ahead.
As one participant shared: "Opening the doors for us to participate in the Elders and Youth conference was an excellent idea and that the elders and youth were so very welcoming and open to sharing was what made this such a success. Personally, to witness an event with approximately 1,500 elders and youth engaged and actively participating was inspirational. There are many lessons learned for me from this time and I hope that I can bring some of them into the work I do."
Thank you to First Alaskans Institute, Casey Family Programs, National Congress of American Indians, our local Alaskan philanthropic network and our Local Matters sponsors for partnering with us on this journey. Over the coming weeks, we will share learnings from participants on our blog. We look forward to our continued and deepening engagement with Alaska Native and Native American communities, and funders who want to learn about and partner more authentically with them.
Join us for Local Matters: Washington, "Philanthropy Is... Convening," November 3-4 in Bellingham.