Sigóowu Yées Táakw! Happy New Year!As we greet 2020, I am most hopeful for the coming decade. I am proud that Sealaska dedicated $10 million last November to support Lingít (Tlingit), Xaad Kíl (Haida) and Sm’algyax (Tsimshian) language revitalization. We anticipate spending $500,000 annually for the next 10 years. In December, I issued a challenge to all shareholders to submit either a short essay or a six-word story highlighting what traditional languages mean to them and why this fund is important. The results were profound and moving and they reaffirmed the board’s resolve in establishing this important benefit to our cultural revitalization. Shareholder Dawn Davis of Milton, Washington, submitted the first winning entry for the six-word essay contest, summing up our charge with the following:
Speaking the language my grandmother couldn’t
Dawn provided the following statement about her essay:
From a very young age I can clearly recall my grandmother frequently singing a lullaby to me in Sm’algyax, and back then it always made me giggle because it sounded so funny with strange sounds and words I couldn’t understand. Now that I am much older I long to hear this song once again from her.
My six-word essay is in reference to my own grandmother and great- grandmother, who were reprimanded in school when they spoke Sm’algyax… It is up to us now to learn the languages; to speak them and keep them alive, because our elders could not. I am honored and ready to make that commitment and attempt to become a fluent speaker now. There won’t be anyone to stop me, and I can hear my grandmothers’ voices in my mind encouraging me along the way. And I know they would be proud. —Dawn Davis | Tsimshian Wolf
I would like to thank Ms. Davis for sharing her story and her commitment to learn our language. I encourage other shareholders to share their stories — the contest is on-going and new winners will be identified throughout the winter. The next winner will be announced on or around Elizabeth Peratrovich Day. Please submit your entry by emailto .Thank you, Joe Nelson, Sealaska Chair