Practicing Alaska Native Values when visiting Alaska
Courtesy of the Alaska Native Heritage Center
Alaska Native people have been in Alaska for more than 10,000 years. Alaska Native peoples, the First Peoples of the lands we refer to as “Alaska”, all have a set of Values passed down from generation to generation, beliefs we have held since time immemorial. Some have written them down, but many Indigenous groups simply pass down those values by their actions and oral history. They include respect for self, love for all children, and community support and uplifting of all people, to name a few. Living with these Values gives us the ability to control our feelings and make good choices. Values teach us how we carry ourselves and what kind of character traits we learn to practice. Values are a very special power in the universe – it is one our minds can grasp for the purpose of uplifting life. Values are spiritual skills— a divine gift that comes to us from the infinite source of all things. Alaska Native Values are the pillars of our lives. These are the skills we bring with us to work with each other and visitors to our home. Alaska Native values are not just relics of the past. They walk with us, are with us today, and will be with those Native peoples who come after us. Below are some examples of Alaska Native values to live by when traveling throughout Alaska.
Please join us in being thankful for this beautiful place we call home. First, think of the clean air your body is absorbing. Stop and take in 3 deep breaths and after each breath - breathe out slowly and forcefully. This is the beginning of your contribution to the water cycle that creates your fresh air by sharing with your plant relatives the CO2 you release. And they share Oxygen with you! Remember you are part of your environment.
Respect for self, others, and our environment
Respect for self is taking care of your well-being, getting enough rest, eating healthy foods, not consuming things bad for your mind, body, and spirit and having the self-discipline to think before reacting to a situation or problem. Respect for residents and other visitors, be aware of their presence. Respect the environment by keeping it clean and taking care of it. Most of all, respect those who came before you with your actions and your mindsets. It is because of the steps they took, that makes who you are possible.
Make wise choices and think carefully before you act. Think before you speak. Accept responsibility for your actions and words. Learn about all the regions of Alaska. Study and become knowledgeable about the place where others live and the people who live in Alaska. Be sure to ask yourself, "Whose land am I on, and what language do Alaska Native people (or Indigenous People) speak?"
We are responsible for each other and ourselves
To be responsible for each other is to check on each other and help each other. When you take the time to check-in with others, you can make sure all are safe and comfortable. You have the responsibility to work with others to be present and aware of the activities during your visit. To be responsible is to also remember that many of the places you visit are sacred to the Native peoples who reside here. Be aware of activities or plans during your visit and always walk in honesty, loyalty, and dignity.
Being of good spirit
No matter where you are traveling, always remember to bring a good spirit. One that helps you, and others enjoy your time together. When you come ready to be a part of this great experience you must come ready with a good spirit. A good spirit helps you to enjoy and create good memories of your visit to learn about a new way to see and explore Alaska Native peoples’ land. A good spirit helps people to do better and share more of the way of life that you have within you. Also, always remember to do something you enjoy each day. Share a funny story, walk with someone, listen to someone, or surprise someone with a small gift. If you share something with others remember that you can do small things with GREAT Love!
Don't take more than what you need
As a visitor to these lands, please only take what you need and don't be wasteful. This goes with all materials and resources of time and energy that our home requires to make people comfortable, safe, and happy to be in our home. Remember, if you are a visitor on these Indigenous lands, it is your responsibility to respect what Native peoples continue to steward.
Our Native value of humor connects us to ourselves and to our peers. Do not be afraid to share a joke or funny experience that may have happened in your life or home, for humor is healing. Be mindful of your audience.
Keep these values in mind, body, and spirit—practice every-day whether you are at work or in your personal life. When you practice living with these values, life is easier, and people tend to listen and respond and help each other with activities in your home. You also attract good energy and vibes. Remember, what you put out into the universe. You never want to speak negativity into the universe. Be good to the mind, body, and spirit of yourself to work better with others. In applying these values, you are more open to experience a better life with us and our visitors.