Written by Courtney James, Chad Ward, Ethan Kadake, Brandon Ward, Bree Travica, and Audrey Clavijo

Due to the season extension granted by the TRAYLS/YCC partners, we accomplished some great work in our sixth week of the program. The week began with some garden work in the community garden. We laid down black felt and covered it with white rock to make a nice path around the beds. Unfortunately, we ran out of white rock before we could finish so we returned to OVK to meet with Bob C. Bob led us out the road to the Portage Flats. We met the Keex’ Kwaan Community Forest Partnership (KKCFP) Crew here and they taught us about vegetation plots, which they are doing around Kupreanof Island and on Kuiu Island this summer. Some of the plants we learned about include silver weed, fox tail, goose tongue, beach asparagus and chocolate lily. 

A section of the trail that we constructed on Grave Island

On Tuesday, we went out to Grave Island and finished our trail! It took most of the day– we started at 9:00am and we finished the trail at 2:00pm.

We also did a pictograph project at the island. The project was directed by Gina Esposito and Jane Smith, archeologists of the Petersburg Forest Service. Each of us chose a grave that was meaningful to us and then used sharpies to outline their names on a big plastic sheet. This is a method used by archeologists to record ancient pictographs in a non-invasive way. 


Courtney creates a pictograph of Emily Jackson’s grave
Bree using a sharpie and plastic to create a pictograph

Afterwards, we boated back into town and talked to a woman named Christine Friar who is visiting Kake for the summer. Christine is a teacher from New York City and long-time friend of Kake local, Liz Medicine Crow. Christine talked to us about her students in the Brooklyn area and how they have been (and continue to be) affected by coronavirus. She led us through an art project that she did with her students through a partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as a short meditation. The meditation was very relaxing. 

For the last hour of work we picked blueberries and hudson bay tea to donate to the community. 

Salmonberries, blueberries, and huckleberries that were picked and distributed to community members.

There are a wide variety of lettuces that were grown and harvested from the Kake Community Garden
Courtney and Miakah smile with large bunches of kale

Friday was a long day! We headed down to the OVK dock at 8:30AM to meet Hank Davis. Hank gave us a boat ride to Mosquito Island to help the community dig a grave for an elder who recently passed. The job required removing a giant spruce tree that had fallen on the path to the graves, brushing the trail, and refinishing it with sand from the beach, digging a large hole, and cementing a large wooden box into the ground for the casket. It was a pretty intense job. (To move the spruce tree, we had a big seining boat tie a rope to the end of the log and tug it into the water.) 

After seven hours of hard work in the sun, we finally finished the project. It looked really great and we hope the family felt comfortable in the space we cleared for the service. We send them our love.

Launched in 2017, the Training Rural Alaskan Youth Leaders and Students (TRAYLS) Program provides hands-on experience with natural resource management technical skills and cultural knowledge while preparing youth to occupy leadership roles in their communities.  This year, TRAYLS and Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) programs are active in three Southeast communities: Kake, Hoonah, and Angoon.