What is AkNOS?
The Alaska Native Oratory Society is a learning community and a series of speaking events that provide opportunities for Alaska Native, Native American and Non-Native high school and university students to develop their oratory skills through participation in four speech categories: Oratory, Declamation, Storytelling, and Native Languages. Students enter one category or several categories depending on their goals and skill level. First time participants are encouraged to enter only one speech category until they become comfortable and confident speaking out in a public setting. Experienced students often enter several categories as they expand their speaking skills to include a variety of styles. All students are encouraged to learn how to speak in the style of their community or region or to learn how to speak in the style of a specific Alaska Native/Native American cultural group.
These four speech categories make it possible for Native and non-Native students to learn to speak out on issues of importance to their communities and regions in a supportive environment. Many former AkNOS student participants have gone on to become leaders in their communities and regions. Students are excited to learn they can lend a supportive voice to the various issues within our Native communities, statewide, and nationally. As speaking skills improve, students report that their self-confidence begins to grow and they find ways to become actively involved with issues that have meaning in their lives. For example students have become involved with such current Native issues as promoting cultural awareness, encouraging language acquisition and competency, leading healthy lives, and surviving the death of loved one by suicide.
Learning to speak out in AkNOS also brings students back to their communities, family members and Elders as they ask for assistance, guidance, and teaching to learn how to speak in the styles important in their communities and regions.
How do students learn to speak out?
Students new to speaking are supported in a variety of ways. Sometimes a student will prefer to work one-on-one with an AkNOS Tutor in order to identify a speech topic, develop the speech, and then deliver the speech. Many students learn better in small group settings and prefer to work with other students in Native Student Services (NSS) and the Cama-i Room or on their own school campuses. Past AkNOS participants, community leaders, and Elders provide AkNOS competitors with a variety of learning opportunities.
Students from across Alaska come to the UAA campus to participate in activities, meet other students from throughout the state, and speak up for Native issues and concerns.