by Jasmine Sikand and Sidney Weiss
There is a wave of resurgence, restoration, resilience and reconstruction of Indigenous Peoples and their culture that is obvious in the Yukon. There is a force of Indigenous People of all ages coming together to stand their ground, to reclaim all that is theirs. And, where there is a focus on the future, there is youth. RE- is a project aiming to display what the future could look like for Indigenous Peoples from the perspective of their own youth, Megan Jensen and Teagyn Vallevand.
Megan and Teagyn are examples of two young women leading and inspiring those both young and older than them to also be leaders, and to share culture and to share love. How? Through educating, through art, through kindness and respect.
The two women find their own ways to make their traditional culture’s present, while also incorporating their lives as young people in 2017. For Megan, she practices and teaches traditional Tlingit design and form line, and acknowledges when her work may be taking on a more contemporary tone. She is also a part of the The Dakhká Khwáan Dancers, an Inland Tlingit dance group that incorporates traditional music with contemporary dance beats for a take on cultural revitalization that is engaging, unique and accessible for the ever-changing world of music.
For Teagyn, it’s starting her own company with Aurora Hardy, Youth For Lateral Kindness, helping combat lateral violence in Indigenous communities and addressing the issues behind it. Youth For Lateral Kindness also leads blanket exercises to educate all people on Indigenous history -- a history lesson many didn’t receive in the education system growing up. Teagyn finds ways to bring her found traditions and cultures back home, something that was lost through many years of oppression and violence, recognizing the importance to heal while still pushing forward.
Indigenous youth are the future. The ways they are finding to reclaim their culture and bring it into their lives as 21st century youth is inspiring and exciting. This movement or resurgence, restoration, resilience and reconstruction is happening right now, and more than ever.
WATCH THE DOCS
As artists, the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers walk both paths of contemporary and ancient expression. It is important to stress that while there is an aim to create a space for cultural revitalization that may lend itself to modern settings, the artists also preserve these ancient songs and dances they use in their performances, as they are an integral and special part of traditional cultural ceremonies. The group shares their culture through their performances, and strives to do so with the outmost respect to cultural protocols