Culture Box: Art Kits for Youth
A Journey to What Matters Grantee: Alaska Native Heritage Center
In the midst of a world pandemic, the world we knew then came to a halt and the impact was devastating to the Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC). In the spirit of our Alaska Native Heritage Center Ten Universal Values, we give much respect and gratitude to The CIRI Foundation (TCF) for demonstrating similar values when it reached out to ANHC with an invitational grant for an Art Kits for Youth project.
ANHC is a living cultural center that promotes active creation of art, featuring permanent collections and educational programs. Knowing that kids were out of school, and parents now found themselves in the position of having to work from home, be teachers for their kids, and make sure the kids have safe activities, ANHC did what we could immediately. Via our Facebook page, we began offering live streams/recordings of Alaska Native storytellers from all over the state, art activities like animal masks and snow visors that could be done with materials found around the house, and cooking videos.
When the ANHC Team were brought together to visualize, develop and support the Art Kits for Youth project, the idea of a Culture Box was born. At its core, the Culture Box, Art Kits for Youth, is fundamentally connected to ANHC’s mission to preserve and strengthen the traditions, languages, and art of Alaska Native People through statewide collaboration, celebration and education.
The intended audience for the Culture Box project is the K-12 Alaska Native student population. Our approach to this project was inclusive of the various learning levels of those who would be enjoying and utilizing the Culture Box. And who better to have inform the work than those closest to the work, our ANHC Interns who produced more than 800 individual pieces of age appropriate art for anyone in the K-12th grade; although we did hear from parents how much they enjoyed and felt connected to being an Alaska Native through the Culture Box project and shared comments like, “This was an awesome experience!” or “Wish I had this when I was a young child.”
The Culture Boxes have had a far reaching impact on the intended audience and beyond. Culture Boxes were requested from all across the state of Alaska and the lower 48. The 250 Culture Boxes were created, on time, within budget, and steeped in the philosophy of quality verse quantity. For example, in the necklace project we use real glass beads vs plastic or seal fur vs fake fur.
Of those who completed the post project survey, 100% indicated they became more aware of Alaska Native art and culture; 90% indicated significant increase in knowledge and 90% of the responses indicated they were able to participate in cultural activities that otherwise would not have been available to them.
On behalf of ANHC, Quyanaqpak, thank you very much for entrusting us with this exciting project. We deeply value our partnership with TCF!