Junior ANS builds on camaraderie, service

 


When Jessie Morgan was approached last year by Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 5 President Anastasia Wiley and asked to lead a junior contingent of the civil rights organization, she wasn’t sure if she was up for it.

“I was kind of wary when I started, because I really haven’t hung out with kids on this level,” Morgan said. “I wasn’t sure if I would have to tell them what to do all the time. I’m not that kind of person.”

Morgan, 25, has been heading up the Junior ANS Camp 5 as its president since last fall, and her uncertainties have given way to appreciation and fulfilment.

“I do this on a volunteer basis and it’s probably been the best thing that I could do for my professional development and as a human being. I just learn so much from them,” Morgan said.

Founded in 2014, Haines Junior ANS is one of only two junior ANS organizations in Southeast, along with one in Ketchikan. Since its inception, it has grown from four members to a dozen, ages 9-15.

The group recently elected its first officers: Tayla Hotch, vice president; Miranda Haddock, second vice president; Kayliegh Fisher, secretary; Saldie Wilson, treasurer; Malia Geise, sergeant at arms; and Kiana Donat, second sergeant at arms.

Junior members spend their time helping out at events like the New Year’s Eve alcohol-free party and the Elizabeth Peratrovich memorial potluck, donning their caps and sashes to serve and help elders. They also go on field trips and have sleepovers at Wiley’s Piedad Road home.


Fifth-grader Geise, 10, said hanging out at the sleepovers is one of her favorite parts of being a member. The group watches movies on Netflix, completes craft projects like making dreamcatchers, and just talks about how their lives are going.

Morgan is also a great mentor, Geise said. “She is fun and she’s just fun to hang out with. She is silly and everybody loves her that way.”

Geise has been a member of the Junior ANS for about a year. She helps set up for events, brings supplies to sleepovers and serves food at fundraisers.

“I thought it would be good to help other people and it just seemed like fun to do,” Geise said of joining.

That combination of goals – of fostering community service and camaraderie – is what Junior ANS is all about, said ANS Camp 5 president Wiley.

“The girls are learning the value of respect and hard work, frequently participating in fundraisers and membership drives where they dote on elders, providing for all their needs,” Wiley said. “The girls share their good times and bad times, lifting each other up in an undeniable circle of friendship.”


Wiley attended October’s ANS Grand Camp in Wrangell, where Haines was repeatedly recognized and praised for its junior organization.

“Haines residents should be proud of Junior ANS and provide as much support and encouragement as possible,” Wiley said. “In these times of uncertainty, these Native and non-Native young ladies have formed an unbreakable bond which will carry them forward and can only benefit our future community.”

  Morgan said she is trying to integrate Junior Alaska Native Brotherhood with Junior ANS, so there will be more participants at field trips and other events.

  “It’s wonderful for us as adults and elders to see the junior members involved in culture and this organization, but it’s also really good for them,” Morgan said. “It’s good for them to get together like this and have sleepovers and get to know each other and just hang out. I know they are young, but they go through a lot. It’s a privilege to hang out with them and learn from them.”

 
 

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