Rooting young people through cultural heritage in modern Alaska

Professor Arleigh Reynolds, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at University of Alaska Fairbanks, shared a moving story at the One Arctic, One Health conference about George Attla, whose actions and example left a great mark in small Alaska Native communities.

Professor Reynolds emphasises that One Health thinking has always been part of the worldview of indigenous peoples. Comprehensive One Health does not mean just intervention in diseases but also the health and well-being of the individual and the community, which includes physical and mental health as well as cultural and spiritual well-being.

After George Attla’s son Frank died unexpectedly of an asthma attack in 2012, George established the Frank Attla Youth & Sled Dog Care-Mushing Program in his memory. The programme was targeted at all children and young people in Huslia from kindergarten to high school.

George wanted his programme to activate young people in dog sledding activities because he saw it as a chance to save them from social exclusion.

“Three times a week, all children and young people helped take care of the dogs and train them. They learned a variety of skills: they built doghouses, cleaned dog pens, fished for the dogs’ meals and rode dog sleds. At weekends, dog sled races were held in Huslia,” says Professor Reynolds.

Arleigh Reynolds, University of Alaska Fairbanks (Photo: Seija Leskelä)

Read the full article and the story about George Attla here.

Last updated: 27.3.2019