Village Recreation Programs

While living in Anchorage I struggle with a lack of connection to village life. My parents used to fly me home to McGrath when their chore list piled up, but that hasn’t happened in years.

One of the challenges going into villages as an outsider is that the village doesn’t know your agenda. Villages are inundated with outsiders coming in to take (stories, natural resources) and give (trainings, advice, funding). I’ve found the most comfortable way to visit villages is with an established program. Skiku (statewide), which grew out of NANA Nordic (which serves northwest Alaska) has been building relationships with village schools for… maybe 8 years? It is a wonderful feeling to arrive in a village with a Skiku hat and feel instantly welcome; the kids are psyched, the adults know why I’m there.

Skiku and NANA Nordic follow in the footsteps of other programs to make playing outdoors more accessible to village kids. From boats to bikes, someone has worked to share a love of human-powered play. Next month I’m joining Lars Flora on a trip to deliver 30 bikes to Dillingham. In conversation with Lars and the directors of Skiku, I question how much influence we have, and if that is even a good thing, but Lars is quick to point out, “Hey. The kids are smiling and having fun. That’s all the justification we need.”

Skiku is currently in a fundraising push. If you like what you see in these photos, please consider donating to the program. I’m happy to answer questions about the program and my efforts trying to stay connected to village life.

Photos are from Anaktuvuk, Kotzebue, Kivalina, and Noatak.

3 Comments

  1. Hi Luc – I just posted a link to the video you did with WGBH a couple of months ago – great video!

    How do all those guys who go upside down in the river get back upright? Do they have to separate from the boats or can they just flip up?

    tim

    On Mon, Nov 25, 2019 at 12:26 PM Things To Luc At wrote:

    > lucmehl posted: ” While living in Anchorage I struggle with a lack of > connection to village life. My parents used to fly me home to McGrath when > their chore list piled up, but that hasn’t happened in years. One of the > challenges going into villages as an outsider is th” >

    1. OK Tim! I found it… Indie Alaska, I didn’t know there was an association with WGBH.

      From upside down in the boats… we push from boat and then either grab the boat and paddle for wet re-entry, or get help from the team. It is possible to roll the packrafts, but it is quite difficult.

      Nice to hear from you, hope all is well!

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