Ancient Gardening Practices are Making a Comeback
UNITY Youth Christine Shaylyn Darlene Naygauq Noratak comes from the Native Village of Hooper Bay, Alaska. Christine recently shared her thoughts on why it is important Native youth to step up as Earth Advocates. “I think it all starts within oneself. For us to make that first step forward to helping our community is where we heal, learn, educate, and grow together,” explains Christine. Learn more about her Earth Service Project for Anchorage. We hope this will inspire other Native youth to plan a project of their own.
Christine concluded that “I could go on talking about what I think an environmental ambassador is, but each and every one of us is already an environmental ambassador, we just need to uncover, unlock and unleash it within ourselves to help our world!”
Christine’s Earth Service Project: Our Indigenous Garden
“Our ancestors used many different types of plants for food and medicine. The knowledge of plants we carry were passed down through generations. In traditional times, our ancestors practiced rituals before they gathered medicinal and edible plants to protect our people. Our ancestors prayed and meditated to remove any negative energies before any kind of work was done. You want to put good thoughts and energies into the work you do to keep others from getting hurt emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically sick. Our ancestors also asked for permission from Mother earth before they gathered plants out of respect. If Mother earth responds no, you move onto another location without complaint. Today the ancient practices are making a comeback. More and more people are practicing the ancient ways of our ancestors including rituals before we gather plants.”
Throughout the 2021 summer, we will:
- To learn, preserve, maintain, and grow our Indigenous garden connecting our Elders,
youth, and our community; while demonstrating, preserving, and expanding our
knowledge in our cultural ways of life.
- We will work with our Elders from different regions of Alaska, our Alaska Native
Heritage Center team, community youth, and other community members.
- Giving back to our land, our ancestors, Elders, community, and for our future
generations to know and have.
- Before we grow pants, there are a few things we must learn:
1) The traditional and scientific names of the plants
2) Properties and uses
3) Precautions of the plants as some are poisonous
4) Best time to pick certain plants
5) Where to find certain plants
6) How to spot differences in plants that look alike
7) When and where to plant certain herbs or plants
8) How to properly plant certain herbs or plants
9) How to take care of the Indigenous garden
The responsibilities of the Indigenous garden:
- Keep our Garden area clean
- Have respect to our land, ancestors, and the plants by holding a blessing and prayer
before we begin gardening
- Garden with others and have fun!
- Documentation: With permission take pictures and videos before, during, and after gardening and gathering
- Create a presentation and a booklet:
Virtually on Zoom
Benefits and uses of the plants
“I am interested in doing a survey with individuals involved in this Indigenous garden. A survey will be created with the help of others at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Pre-Covid, 100 people were going to be invited to see the Indigenous garden. Following the Alaska Native Heritage Center and Municipality of Anchorage mandates, we will allow a certain number of people to see the Indigenous garden.”
Inspired by Christine’s Project?! Plan Your Own Way To Give Back
This is a call to action! The preservation of Mother Earth has been identified by Native youth as a top priority. Earth day was April 22nd, but you have all May to make a difference! How will you help preserve our environment and precious resources? All it takes is a little planning for your Earth Service project and you’re on your way to earning some spending money and cool UNITY swag!