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History and Culture

Home  >  History and Culture  >  Art of Storytelling
Hunik Zoo' Means 'Good News'
By Heather Villars

"Dzan is good to eat. Dzan is small and brown. We can boil it or bake it in the oven. We can use the fur to sew with. In Gwich'in dzan means muskrat," writes elementary student Francine Nathaniel of Chalkyitsik, Alaska, in the September 1999 issue of Hunik Zoo.' Stories about Alaskan animals are not the only thing you'll find in this tabloid-sized newspaper; you're apt to find drawings of all kinds of creatures -- from dinosaurs to spiders -- as well as poems and writings about Alaskan events in Native languages, with translations in English, by elementary students from across Alaska.

'Listen to your Elders' by Misty AcAlpine, 1st Grade, McGrath
Written by Alaskan kids for Alaskan kids, Hunik Zoo' works to promote drug and alcohol awareness while encouraging elementary students to read and write. "While we focus on substance abuse, surveys show that Hunik Zoo' encourages children to read and write. This is because kids are interested in learning about other kids," states Diana Campbell, editor of Hunik Zoo.'

Each month, 125-130 student contributions appear in this twelve-page newspaper. For each entry printed, the student contributor earns a prize. This year's prizes include pencils, crayons, doodle pads, friendship bracelets, and more. The prizes are mailed to the children's school, thereby allowing Alaskan classrooms to be involved in honoring their published peer's contributions.

Since 1980, Hunik Zoo' has brought children across the state a chance to see their name and work in print. The Good news Hunik Zoo' brings is this: When children learn about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, they become more informed on how to keep their bodies healthy by staying drug and alcohol free. Hunik Zoo' furthers this education by promoting a drug and alcohol free lifestyle and encouraging Alaskan children to write and read about their lives which has an added benefit.

"We've heard over and over," Campbell says, "how a troubled student's attitude is changed when their work appears in the Hunik Zoo.' "

Hunik Zoo,' which means "Good News" in Koyukon Athabascan, appears monthly in classrooms across Alaska, with a strong presence in Native Alaskan communities. Sponsored by the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and the Tanana Chiefs Conference, Inc., 10,400 copies circulate through 43 Interior Alaska Athabascan village schools each month. It is also distributed to 33 other schools, to tribal councils, to health care professionals, and to treatment centers.

Hunik Zoo' welcomes and encourages submissions of art, stories, and poems by Alaskan children; mail to Hunik Zoo,' 122 First Ave., Suite 600, Fairbanks, AK 99701. You can also contact editor Diana Campbell by email at hunzoo@tananachiefs.org.

Drawings and articles are from the September 1999 issue of the Hunik Zoo.'

Alanna Gibson, 5th Grade, Minto

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