Last summer, Skaydu.û (Autum) Jules embarked on an important journey of teaching, community, and language with a little help from BYTE’s Nicole Edwards Leadership Fund.

The 25-year-old Leadership Fund recipient participated in a group hike with more than 20 folks (from youth to elders) from all of the the Inland Lingít communities on a journey through the Nakina Trail, located on the traditional unceded territory of the the Áa Tlein Lingít Ḵwáan [Atlin Tlingit people].

“We accomplished many feats, including being the first group to speak the Lingít yoo x̱’atángi [language] on the trail since before the dark times of the attempted eradication of our ways of life through colonization. We shared many of our ancestors shkalneekx’ [stories] and created many of our own; all using our ancestral Lingít yoo x̱’atángi.”

During the hike, Skaydu.û said they developed their recording skills, back country hiking abilities, and sense of leadership. They also practised teaching and speaking Lingit, further growing their language community and confidence. 

“This sense of passing on our oral tradition through teaching provided me a feeling of invigoration and lit a fire within my soul.”

Skaydu.û is now attending University of Alaska Southeast in the Alaska Native Language Bachelors Degree Program, with a minor in Outdoor Leadership Studies and a Indigenous language teaching certificate.

“This opportunity to surround myself with the language and my people provided a sense of clarity of what I now wanted for my future: to teach the Lingít language and culture while out on the land immersed in Mother Earth.”