For centuries Alaska Native peoples survived the harsh conditions of life in the far north while their social, cultural, and spiritual practices thrived. In the 1700’s the battle to claim Alaska and its peoples began, first with Russia and then the United States, setting into motion disruptive changes for Alaska’s first peoples. The painful scars from colonization continue to cycle from one generation to the next. Faced with heartbreaking challenges, Alaska Native communities are striving to recover and regain balance.
Every Monday in the small community of Shiprock, New Mexico, a group of young Navajo leaders meet to decide how they will help their community. For over seven years, the Northern Dine Youth Committee has worked to give youth opportunities to directly make changes within their community. But while the NDYC works to make changes, many members also consider their own futures, commitments to family and the world outside of the Shiprock. While they love their community, they all must consider their options both on and off the reservation.