ACF Alaska Native Fatherhood Summit, Anchorage, AK

January 17, 2013 ACF Alaska Native Fatherhood Summit, Anchorage, AK
By Janice M Holt, MAP, Region 10 ACF/IORA

On the 17th of January 90+ individuals gathered in Anchorage to learn about existing fatherhood programs serving Alaska Native Men and their families, challenges facing Native Fathers and models of success.   The goal for the day was to explore:  Why is Fatherhood important for Alaskan Communities; Models for Fatherhood Programs: Best Practices and Lessons Learned; Challenges for AK Native Fathers; and Creating Support for AK Native Fathers.

The day was filled with men sharing their stores as fathers, brothers, uncles and sons.  Present were strong men who had fathers that came and went from their lives or who had been absent fathers themselves and their journey toward understanding their roles as fathers.  The stories they shared of their lived experience talked about forgiveness for themselves and others.
Matt Sena moderated the day’s event with great energy and appreciation for the stories shared.   Presenters included Patrick Anderson, Fatherhood Program Consultant, who started the morning address: restoring responsible fatherhood for Alaska Natives.  He provided an overview of the work that has been going on over the last decade through Chugachmiut, Cook Inlet Tribal Council and South Central Foundation.  Walt Monegan, AK Native Justice Center Judd Bunag, CITC Father's Journey Program,  Shaun Guthrie, CCTHITA Fatherhood is Sacred Program,  Shon Stewman, SCF Men’s Wellness Program and Thomas Taylor, Fatherhood Program Consultant each shared from their work and family history.   They focused on involving family leaders, a holistic approach to meeting the needs of the family through defining roles, increasing communication, parenting classes, focusing on bonding opportunities and learning as we go.

There were themes that wove the day together: restoring responsible Fatherhood for Alaska Natives; pathways to healing; giving hope; challenges to Native Father’s success; finding the center of our spirit; soul wounds; developing natural supports; putting people into what they love; changing roles; and historical trauma.  An overarching theme being that fatherhood work nourishes and strengthens Alaska Native Families, healing from the past and present while looking toward the future.  A future that included: more positive/strong/safe roles models; opportunities to heal the healers; educating ourselves about our true history;  integrating spirituality into the work; increased elder involvement; and asking for help.

The day left each of us full of reflection, appreciation, thoughtfulness and an awareness of the need to continue the conversation.

For additional information, see ANA's Alaska Training & Technical Assistance website at: