Training the Next Generation of Karuk Leadership
By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune
Karuk Youth Council members and other students from Orleans, Happy Camp, and Yreka, met in Orleans on Saturday, Feb. 23, to learn how to use technology to help promote healthy lifestyles in the community.
Aiyana Carlson, a Karuk Youth Leadership Council member from Yreka, said, “We’re the only tribe in California doing an iPod project like this with our youth council.”
Brianna Conrad, the group’s vice chairperson and a student at Happy Camp High School, said, “I’m excited about what we’ll be helping create.”
The students were given new iPods with special programs to help them survey people in the community about food and health. They also plan to create nature walks for each town, with the iPods set up to act as guides.
Ashley Allgier, a student from Orleans, said, “We’ll be going out to map paths and trails for nature walks to get people out more.”
Cassidy Little, from Happy Camp, said, “It’s not just about fitness, but culture too.”
Carlson nodded and said, “We’re going to be learning about our resources, wildlife and plants related to our culture, and one of the apps will be able to identify them with the iPod.”
The students are being helped with technically training and advice from researchers from San Francisco State University (SFSU).
Biology Professor Kathy Kim said, ““The most important part of the project is that it’s youth led. We give them the tools and they decide where they want to take it.”
“They can use the iPod Touches to do surveys, record interviews, and take pictures. It’s a research tool for them, to collect info on issues they see in the community,” Kim said.
One issue brought up by the students was a lack of healthy food choices in school lunches and in local stores.
Josa Talley, a student at Orleans Elementary School, said, “I know a lot of farms around here, and a few of them tried to sell to the Orleans Market, but the market didn’t want to take it.”
Grant Gilkison said, “You could probably buy 500 gallons of vodka, but you can’t buy an apple.”
Matt Rosen, a youth leadership organizer from San Francisco, spent the late morning and afternoon training the students to conduct surveys, gather information, and to look for underlying issues when trying to solve problems.
“Have you ever ivy growing in your back yard? If you cut it off, it will grow right back because you left the root.” Rosen told the group. “If you want to really make a change, you have to look at the roots.”
The computer center in Orleans is also working with the Karuk Youth Leadership Council to create a digital library of the student-created nature walks.
Library visitors will one day be able to check out iPods that can guide them along the route by showing maps and videos, and using voice recordings to talk to them along the way.
Laura Olivas, chairperson of the youth council advisors, said, “This is teaching the youth valuable skills and shaping the future leaders of the tribe,” Olivas said.
Karuk Tribal Councilmember Crispin McAllister said, “One of the biggest things for me is seeing positive outlets for the kids to get involved, especially in places where there aren’t a lot of things to do.”
At the end of the day’s training session, the students gathered in a tight circle.
Rosen said, “Put all your hands in the center. Is there a cheer you usually end the meetings with?”
Autumn Allgier said, “We say ‘meeting adjourned’.”