One parent told us that his son declared Culture Camp to be the “Favorite camp they went to all summer.”
L’Ḵoot Kwan Culture Camp was hosted by CIA from July 17 to 23 this year out at Chilkoot Lake. This was the first camp since the start of the pandemic. Daaljíni Mary Folletti Cruise directed the camp with Jackie Pata as Camp Mentor, representing the Sockeye Clan upon whose land the camp is located. Special thanks to X̱’unei Lance and Miriah Twitchell, Skeenyáa Tláa Nancy Keen, Chris Peta, Justina Hotch, Karen and Ole Taug, Gwen Sauser, Jordan Baumgartner, Fred Folletti, Nels Lynch, Douglas Indian Association, Tlingit and Haida Central Council, Goldbelt Heritage, Sealaska Corporation, Chilkat Indian Village, Sandee Martin, Andrea Ferrin, Shawna Puustinen, CIA Maintenance Crew, Macey Martin, Heidi Kattenhorn, the CIA Culture Department, and Sue Folletti for contributing time and talent to make the camp a success.
Each day started with a run to the lake, and included time for traditional song, dance, storytelling and art. Children spent a week making and decorating drums and drumsticks. Tináas were made. Donated salmon was filleted, dried, smoked and made into fresh pack. Shelter building and fire starting as well as s’more making were campsite activities. Mid-week, children visited Jilkaat Kwaan Cultural Center, harvested soap berries, and then sang and danced in a clearing. Both CIA and Chilkat Indian Village provided vans as transportation. Deer Rock and the Lkoot gravesites were cleared and cleaned with stories told to teach their importance and history to the children. Harvested devils club was made into beads and salve. Picked nettles were split for fibers, which were braided into bracelets. Blueberry jam, soapberries and salve were cooked and processed as gifts. Camp registration peaked at 40 participants with anywhere from 26-32 campers daily. Elder Florence Sheakley attended all week. Elders Josie Johnson, Rosanne Hotch, Gail Tompkins, Joe Hotch, Marsha Hotch and Sammy Jackson attended. Several guests and volunteers came and helped, participated and engaged with the campers as their schedules allowed.
Florence Sheakley remembered helping her brother, Austin Hammond, who started culture camp. A truly humbling experience for all of us at CIA to be able to continue to offer this important experience to the youth of our community. We are so grateful to past and present coordinators, participants, support staff, mentors, teachers and leaders. We are already looking forward to next year.