The Tongass has long been recognized as a region wrought with conflict. The Sustainable Southeast Partnership (SSP) was forged to shatter this. A tumultuous history of colonialism, timber wars, and the exploitation of people and places have left scars on the bodies of our communities and on the hillsides of our islands. The work of the SSP includes healing those scars as well as strengthening the resilience and capacity of Southeast Alaskans to meet the complex challenges of our time.
Storytelling is central to an impactful social and environmental change movement because stories influence our systems and society. Stories shift our idea of what is possible. They influence how we understand, interpret, and engage with the socio-political systems we are embedded in. Stories can evoke pride and empathy and can help us to better understand our neighbors. Stories can motivate us to act and with time, stories can shift and change our social norms. A good story can create a safe space for us to question ourselves, our intentions, and our assumptions. Stories can introduce us to new ideas, challenge unjust systems, or expose us to healthier practices. Stories can hold institutions accountable to their values, capture important histories, and present opportunities to build new skills.
Stories are at the heart of all social movements because stories influence people and people influence systems.
The Sitka Conservation Society helps lead the storytelling program within the Sustainable Southeast Partnership which focuses on creating, publishing, pitching, and sharing solutions stories from our rural communities that showcase our collective values, mission, and work. We also work with our partners, including Sealaska and the Alaska Conservation Foundation, to host internships and mentorship opportunities that support rural and Indigenous youth in sharing stories about themselves, their values, and their communities.
Supporting Emerging, Rural, and Indigenous Storytellers
SCS works within the Sustainable Southeast Partnership to host storytelling and engagement summer internships and other creative mentorship opportunities throughout the year.
In the summer of 2022, SCS supported two Storytelling and Engagement Interns with the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, sponsored by Sealaska. Shaelene Grace Moler is Lingít of the Tsaagweidí and grew up in Keex’ (Kake) where she reported on Indigenous stewardship, entrepreneurialism, workforce development and more. Ḵaa Yahaayí Shkalneegi, Muriel Reid spent their summer finessing their photography and writing skills as well as attended an Indigenous Data Sovereignty workshop in Lakota Nation. Both interns participated and volunteered with Hoonah’s Culture Camp and published stories in print including Reid’s on the Berry Song event SCS hosted and Moler’s stories on a totem pole raising in the Inian Islands and an Indigenous-led marine mammal tannery in Kake.