A man who gave to the community

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

There are many interesting and deserving people in Juneau who have had a major, positive effect upon this community. One such person is Lenard Sevdy.

Len is the man responsible for the Juneau Indian Studies program in our school district. With his guidance and dedication, it became a reality in the early 1970s. He spent countless hours writing grants; meeting with the Native community and winning over their trust and support of the idea of teaching their culture within the public school system to all students; recruiting and organizing interested people to contribute to the creation of the program; worked diligently to involve classroom teachers in the process of participating in and teaching the program; and gaining support from the school administration.

There were more than a few challenging roadblocks and hurdles to overcome in those early days, but Len was able to hold the ideal and dream of an Indian Studies program together. Without his perseverance and determination thousands of Juneau children would not have had the enriching experience of learning about the Tlingit culture and coming to know the many elders, leaders and artists who participated in the program over the years, working directly with the pupils.

Len befriended the Willie and Jimmie Marks families. They were the first to step forward to share their heritage, realizing the culture was "dying" and this program was one way to keep it alive by reaching out to the children.

Len embodies the pioneer spirit - a man committed to an idea, who willingly and generously gave of himself to realize the dream. In doing so, he gave our community a wonderful gift that continues to evolve and enrich our lives. Thank you, Len.

Janie Cesar


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