Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Civil rights song has Haines roots

 


Teacher Mary Folletti said she’s glad her “Elizabeth Peratrovich Rap” has made it back to Haines, her hometown.

Folletti was teaching Tlingit language and culture at Juneau’s Gastineau Elementary School in 2012 when she created the rap version of a song about the Tlingit civil rights leader. A Peratrovich song had previously had been set to the children’s tune “Bingo.”

“It wasn’t reaching the students at the fourth- and fifth-grade level. I decided to write something I thought students would be able to relate to more,” Folletti explained this week.

After a performance at Celebration, a regional gathering of Natives in Juneau, the song became a regular feature at Peratrovich Day observances in the Capital City. In the past two years it has spread to other communities, including Hoonah and Kake.

“I’ve had teachers in Anchorage write me, asking to use it. There are five-year-olds who can sing it by themselves now,” Folletti said.

As the song has spread, some changes have been made to it. Folletti’s original version described Peratrovich as a “Tlingit.” That’s sometimes changed to “Native.” Also, Folletti said, there are many musical interpretations. “It’s a little more hip-hoppy the way I sing it.”

 
 

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