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Teaching Through Stories: Televised Play Brings Cancer Information to Native Alaskans

Capital City Weekly (Juneau, Alaska) , August 24, 2004

Summary:

When an issue is otherwise too hard to talk about, fiction, myth, and art can open up the discussion. So when the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium set out to break the silence about cancer — specifically among Natives in remote villages – the chosen format was storytelling.

The result is the emotionally charged and educational reader’s play Understanding: Stepping into the Light. Based on interviews with Native Alaskans who have been touched by cancer, the play was written by P. Shane Mitchell, with assistance from Sylvia Montero and Melany Cueva.

"Wisdom and knowledge have always been passed from the elder to the youth by stories, and we’re just building on that Native practice," explained Cueva.

David G. Katzeek of Klukwan, one of the actors in the play, agrees. "Elders used to tell stories and comment on the values in the story: ‘See what happens when you live with fear? It’s better to face your fears.’ "

Subjects Covered: education, healing, medicine


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