A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership
ARTShops 2021 Golga Oscar in Tununak: Yup’ik Regalia

The ARTShops program is a collaboration between the Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation and The CIRI Foundation’s A Journey to What Matters: Increased Alaska Native Arts and Culture grant program. Established in 2016, ARTShops support emerging Alaska Native arts leaders to develop their skills in leading community-based arts programs.

For my ARTShop project participants learned the importance of sewing techniques, ways of using a sewing machine, doing complex beading, and measuring without a measuring tool. The importance of sewing techniques taught them the do’s and don’t when it comes to handling fur. The skills of using a sewing machine made a majority of my students understand; the speed of the pedal, knowing when to reverse, and the use of the balancer. When it came to beading, my students were challenged about patience and how it can help them become skilled artists. Within measurements, they were taught how to use their hands as a measuring tool.

Within a successful project, all the credit goes to Amy Kanrilak from the community of Tununak and the region of Nelson Island. Kanrilak corrected my mistakes with my first batch of headdresses. Ever since then, I’ve been using her techniques and traditional knowledge. The knowledge she taught me was the Yup’ik numbers: three, four, five, and seven. The region of Nelson Island inspired me to pursue my Yup’ik identity.

The Indigenous methodologies we implemented are traditional and cultural knowledge, Yup’ik ancestral stories, and the Yup’ik history. The focus on Indigenous space was mentally healing, in a way of decolonizing and taking back what was once dying. Our knowledge discussed from the past and what I gained from the Yup’ik-based books was refreshing for the older generation, yet new for the generation that came after my parents. We described how cultural art can save lives by keeping one’s mind busy and inspiring one to further one’s Native identity.

Overall, the project helped us create an Indigenous space for the generation before and after us, the importance of our cultural and traditional values, and the significance of sewing techniques.