The Juneau Empire’s expanded coverage of the Juneau Lions Club 74th Gold Medal Basketball Tournament is made possible by Sealaska Corp. Thanks to this sponsorship, this article —and all of this year’s Gold Medal coverage — is available online without a subscription to the Empire.
As the names of Southeast Alaska communities were read, dollar bills quickly piled up atop blankets lying on the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé gym floor, and in a matter of minutes, a flurry of regionwide generosity led to over $2,500 in donations to Juneau’s Tlingit Culture, Language and Literacy Program.
The donations were part of a performance by a regalia-clad group that included Eagle Raven Dancers, Wooshji.een and students in the TCLL program among others before a Thursday evening Gold Medal Basketball Tournament game tipped off. The performance included Southeast Alaska Native song and dance as well as a portion in which attendees of the long-running basketball tournament were invited to make donations when they heard the name of their community.
TCLL is Juneau School District’s growing optional place- and culture-based program that incorporates Tlingit language, values, perspective and oral tradition in instruction of state standards.
With many in the bleachers and along the gym floor already moved to stand by the music, it did not take long for throngs of people to begin walking or dancing their way to donation spots.
“We are overwhelmed with the generosity of the Gold Medal fans and players!” stated Molly Box, interim principal of TCLL in a message Friday morning.
At halftime of the Thursday game between Juneau and Hydaburg, it was announced that $2,500 was collected for TCLL. Although Box noted the next day the exact total was an “amazing” $2,503.75.
The money will go into TCLL’s school account, Box said, which will allow teachers to use it for field trips. As a point of comparison, Box stated a round-trip bus costs about $140 for 45 students.
“Our TCLL curriculum is place-based and getting students outside to observe, explore and learn about their environment, as well as the experience their connection to the land and the resources available to us is so important (for all kids really),” Box stated. “Harvesting things like berries, herring eggs, devils club and learning about the environment — tides, old growth forests, and glaciers is so much more meaningful and relevant when we can take students outside. The hands-on learning like making jam or making devil’s club salve is also extremely valuable. We can also use the money for supplies for making regalia, drums and art!”
The money can also be used next year when TCLL will expand to include a sixth to seventh grade class.
“TCLL middle schoolers will enjoy cultural-based exploratories such as regalia-making, singing/dancing, carving, weaving, beading, cooking, formline drawing/painting, technology, and physical education,” Box stated. “We have tentative plans to offer learning a musical instrument as well. Certainly there will be supplies needed for these offerings!”
Families that want to apply for TCLL can do so online by clicking on the TCLL link at the top of the Harborview Elementary website. Box stated people with questions can also call (907)523-1850 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at email@example.com or (907)308-4895. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.