Brooks Brook / Teslin

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 9:30 PM By Kennie , In , , ,

Today orientation brought us out to Brooks Brook (about 30 minutes outside of Teslin) and to Teslin. Today focused a lot on making connections: connections to the land, to our heritage/culture, to education and to each other.

We first began by creating a large circle in the tent field where we were welcomed by the Teslin Tlingit Council/Representatives to the area followed by a prayer said by an elder in Tlingit (the language of the Tlinkit), followed by a very moving (and poignant) song sung by one of our teachers about the loss of her people's culture and what would elders think of it. It was quite a moving song, and did bring home the message of how today's First Nations peoples are struggling to find their way between the modern world and the traditional ways of their peoples.

After, we introduced ourselves to each other. It was quite amazing to see how many new teachers were there that are from out East. We had ourselves a little kitchen (well campfire) party at lunch and swapped stories.

We then broke off into round table meetings where we discussed the link between education and First Nations and how everything fits together.

Brooks Brook (Yukon River)

In the afternoon, after our first session, we had a "free choice" of what activity we would like to do. We had the choice of canoeing, learning about medicinal plants, traditional music, hand games, a philosophical hike thought he woods or a trip into Teslin to view the town and heritage center. I chose to head on down to Teslin/Heritage center as this might be the only time that I might get there, unless I decide to drive into BC.

Those of us who went to Teslin/Heritage Center were escorted by Chief Peter Johnston (of the Teslin Tlingit), who provided us with a vast amount of information about the history of the Teslin Reserve (now called a settlement site) and the town of Teslin itself. While at the Teslin Heritage Center, the structure of the totem poles was explained to us.

Each of the totems represent elements of land, water and air. On the outside are a raven (Kukhhittan) and eagle (Dakhl'awedi) that represent the air element. The two middle totems, frog (Ishkitan) and beaver (Deshitan) represent the water element. The center totem, wolf (Yanyedi) represents the land element. And because the Teslin Tlinkit are an inland peoples, the totems all point inland. edit: also as Michael has pointed out to me, each of these also represent the five clans within the Teslin Tlingit.

Raven / Kukhhittan

Frog / Ishkitan




Kennie with the Frog/Ishkitan totem

Kennie with the Beaver/Deshitan totem

After our visit to Teslin/Heritage center we returned to Brooks Brook for a delicious homemade supper of Turkey, veggies, salad and other fixins all made by some really great volunteers. The food was amazing!

After we all ate and cleaned up, it was time to get heading back to town ..... at least that is how we all felt as we were starting to fall into sleepy time (being up and at the Board office for 6:45am is tough).

It was a great day out learning about First Nations Education and the history of Education and First Nations as well as learning more about the Tlinkit people.


Morena said...

Sounds like a great day. And thumbs up for a kitchen party around a campfire!

August 20, 2009 at 5:28 AM
down east said...

Those totems look familiar!

August 20, 2009 at 12:10 PM
Kennie said...

Yes, they are .. but I took these photos :-)

August 20, 2009 at 11:14 PM