Our Learning Center and how it came to be…
In 1993 the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) and its Executive Committee held joint strategic planning sessions where the primary goal was to create an educational facility that was tribally owned and administered. The vision was to address the vocational training needs of the Southeast region so that tribal members would be prepared to access employment opportunities within their communities.
In 1996 there was an opportunity for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant that came available to accomplish the goal of constructing a training facility or facilities to serve the region, but there were not enough funds to service all the regional tribes individually. So, six tribes signed on to support.
Six Tribes formed an alliance to create the Vocational Training & Resource Center…
Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
• Chilkoot Indian Association
• Douglas Indian Association
Hoonah Indian Association •
Organized Village of Saxman • Skagway (Skaqua) Traditional Council
After eight years of work across communities our learning center opened its doors in 2001. The name given to the building was —
Kaa Kaakch aadei Kusawátx.yé — means “How Our Uncle Would Raise His Nephews,” represented by totem pole located in the entrance of the building.
The totem pole, Kaa Kaakch Aadei Kusawátx.yé (How Our Uncle Would Raise His Nephews), was given its name during a ceremony on June 1, 2001. The totem name honors our maternal Uncles who, in Lingít society, were responsible for the training, discipline and teaching of his nephews. Archie Cavanaugh, Sr., passes on the following story.
“How Our Uncle Would Raise His Nephews”
An Uncle took his two nephews away from the people because they were misbehaving. He had to try and correct their behavior. To do so, he took them to an island where there was a cave called Taa Took. He entered the dark area of the cave knowing he would find a kooshdaakaa, which he covered up. This creature was known as the “bogeyman” of the Tlingits, a terrifying and dreaded thing, part man and part land otter. Later that night the Uncle took his nephews to the cave to tell them a story. He told them how he was defeated during various times of his life. When he finished, he would tell another story of defeat. Each time, his nephews would say, “I wish I was there, Uncle, I wish I was there to help you.”
The next evening, he brought the nephews to the cave to tell more stories of his defeats. Upon finishing his story on the third night, he went over to the kooshdaakaa and took off its cover. It made a noise and emitted a horrible smell. When the Uncle turned around, his nephews were not there; they had run away in fear. Uncle had to go and look for them to bring them back. When they returned, the kooshdaakaa was gone. Uncle told them the reason for bringing them to the cave…
“You said that you would have helped me during the times of my defeat, yet when you faced this scary thing you ran in fear. You must understand from this experience that you must not grow up weak. That no matter what the problem, no matter how life may defeat you, you must not to turn away from anything. You must stand and face whatever comes your way.”
The boys were different after that. Because of what they learned from Uncle, they were able to come out of life victorious.
New vision and new offerings!
In 2021 our center was reimagined and turned into Generations Southeast – Community Learning Center. We still offer a variety of vocational service certificate classes as well as new online education classes. Everything we do going forward is rooted in our native values, Generations Southeast is committed to enhancing our language, arts and history of our people and homelands. Whether you are taking vocational training or cultural classes you will feel a strong and direct tie on how your knowledge gained here will impact your community.