Book serves as reminder, guide

Kenaitzes recall tribal ways to care for Earth

Posted: Monday, October 01, 2007

Most would agree the Kenai Peninsula is a beautiful place, but how many people stop and think about how many people have come before them and not only enjoyed this area, too, but also made contributions to ensure it stayed so pristine for the next generation.

For those who haven't given it much thought, a new book put out by the Kenaitze Indian Tribe may serve as a reminder of the way things were, are now, and could potentially be in the future.

It's called "Kenaitze Elders Speak Our Land, Our Truths and Healthy Native Families" said Brenda Trefon, tribal environmental protection officer for the Kenaitze.

Trefon said the book, published using Environmental Protection Agency grant money, was a long time coming due to efforts to provide many elders with a chance to give input to the project.

"It took about a year of meeting with people in the elders program and talking to families, but now that it's done everyone seems to like it," she said.

Despite the lengthy data collection phase, Trefon said the project was a pleasure to work on due to the subjects involved.

"It was a feel good project, and really the credit goes to the elders program and the elders in the tribe," she said.

The book features numerous high quality photographs of the local area, as well as stories and poems from several local contributors, such as Jake Ivanoff, Clare Swan and other people in the community who were born and raised here.

Trefon said the goal of the book was to pass down stories from the elders and to educate the younger generations about how the elders lived and the respect they had for the environment.

"The resources we have here now were managed by Natives for thousands of years, and the things Natives practiced, that ecological knowledge, could be done by families now in their daily lives to keep a healthy environment," she said.

So far the books have been distributed to families in the tribe, and each school in the borough will receive a copy.

"We're having another printing made and hoping to have those in book stores by Christmas," Trefon said.

For more information on the book or to find out how to obtain a copy, call Brenda Trefon at 283-3633.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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