It was the little red trauma-informed schoolhouse.
Katherine Wickersham-Wade, the Nay’dini’aa Na’ Kayax (Chickaloon Village) clan grandmother who started the Ya Ne Dah Ah School, Alaska’s first Tribally operated school in 1992, might not have used that language. But she did envision a school that would wrap its students in Native ancestral traditions and Ahtna language, instill self-confidence and repair some of the damage inflicted by historical trauma—the disruptions to culture and community caused in part by railroad and road-building, coal mining and colonialism.
In 2005, the school graduated from its small, red-clad structure to a more modern 2,400 square foot building. Though still compact—it serves eighteen students, from toddlers to teenagers—it has become a powerful model of trauma-informed practice.