Phone: 907.793.3575 or Toll-free: 800.764.3382 |tcf@thecirifoundation.org

Project Grant

A Journey To What Matters- Painting A Vision of Alaska’s Youth

Project: Painting a Vision of Alaska’s Youth
Grantee: Covenant House Alaska
Written by: Jason Searle

Over the course of the last six months, youth of Covenant House Alaska were awarded the valuable opportunity to experience Alaska Native Culture and Art first-hand.

In between rips of fabric and stitches made, beads sewn, drums stretched and paint swept over canvas and walls, there were stories told, values shared and skills gained. Youth of Covenant House Alaska had more opportunities than ever before to learn about and gain hands-on exposure to Alaska Native Culture. Whether these youth were born and raised in rural Alaska before circumstance led them to our doors, Anchorage city kids who were in need of a helping hand, or young individuals whose path led them to Alaska from other areas of the country, all were allowed the chance to learn traditional art forms from Alaska Native Culture bearers — and to freely express themselves.

From Qaspecs to various types of hand drums, each activity offered was open to all youth staying at Covenant House and all staff working who could join in. Artists came to share information about their culture and in doing so, allowed youth an opportunity to explore their own heritage, ask questions and share stories of their own family traditions. Qaspec sewing went on for weeks and youth and staff still proudly wear theirs and tell new youth about how they made them themselves. Our staff also learned how to sew and create clothing in the process and have taken that skill home to share with others, broadening the reach even further. At first the youth were learning these skills themselves. Now many have become the teachers to youth and staff […]

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A Journey to What Matters and Education Project Grant- ANCCS Culture Week 2017

Project: Culture Week 2017
Grantee: Alaska Native Cultural Charter School
Written by: ANCCS
Photo by: ANCCS 

The Alaska Native Cultural Charter School (ANCCS) would like to send a huge Quyana to TCF for their continued support and dedication to the success of our Culture Week. During Culture Week, students at ANCCS spent a total of four days working with local artists from our community learning about many different Native art forms. During this time students learned how to make Yup’ik drums, Tlingit blankets, Athabascan earings, dream catchers, Yup’ik headdresses, Kuspuks, Alutiq paddles, beaded headbands, wooden masks and tradtional foods.

We are very grateful for the Education Project and the Journey to What Matters grants.

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    A Journey to What Matters- Old Harbor’s A Time to Dance Again

A Journey to What Matters- Old Harbor’s A Time to Dance Again

Project: A Time To Dance Again
Grantee: Old Harbor Alliance
Written by: Melissa Berns

‘A Time to Dance, Again’ is a program that was developed by the Old Harbor Alliance, our local non-profit, through a grant with the CIRI Foundation, Alaska State Council on the Arts, and many sponsors and supporters. Melissa Berns, Alliance Board Member and OHNC Project Manager coordinated the program in Old Harbor.

This program allowed for youth and community members to participate in regularly instructed Alutiiq dancing, ivory carving, headdress making, regalia making, drum making and mask making workshops all leading up to a dance festival. From July 2016 through March 2017 the Old Harbor Alliance held regularly scheduled Alutiiq dance practice led by Lena Amason-Berns. (more…)

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A Journey to What Matters- Constructing Traditional Kayaks

Project: Akhiok Kids Camp
Grantee: Native Village of Akhiok
Written by: Cheri Simeonoff

Traditional qayat (kayaks) were once common on Kodiak Island and the surrounding regions. However, today you will find only a few being used regularly, one is at Alfred Naumoff’s fish camp and the rest on Kodiak are on display or in museums. They are a novelty. Our goal is to change this. By creating a traditional kayak from gathering wood off the beaches it shows we can still make kayaks at home.

What we learned was this is hard work. It takes knowing where, when, how and what to do with the materials once it has been gathered. Alfred Naumoff has been doing this for over 30 years. He learned from elders, Larry Matfay and others, when he was young and when it was not popular. His knowledge is now very important to our relearning about these traditional practices.
At the Akhiok Kids camp we gathered wood for the bow piece in 2016 and started shaping it at the camp in 2017. We also started processing the deck beams and other parts during this time. We were able to get all the parts roughed out by hand and stored to be cured over the winter in Akhiok. This was one of the things Alfred taught us that it takes time to make a traditional kayak frame because we have to know how the wood will react as it cures, dries out, over the year. Today it seems we are always in such a rush to complete projects and slowing down and learning about the traditional ways reminds us that in making things traditionally, like a kayak takes […]

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A Journey to What Matters- Akhiok Kids Camp at Native Village of Akhiok

Project: Akhiok Kids Camp
Grantee: Native Village of Akhiok
Written by: Speridon Simeonoff Jr.
Photo by: Sven Haakanson Jr. 

The camp for the project was located at Cape Alitak with the permission of Akhiok-Kaguyak Inc. All campers/supplies must be transported to the location by skiff. Here materials were gathered from the beach for the Sugpiat Kayak frame construction from 2016-2017. The weather created delays in the project (45mph winds, rain, fog). Elder Alfred Naumoff, instructor & master builder, was only able to attend one day. Some members were able to travel to Alfred’s location for instruction. Additional wood will need to cure for a year and the project is planned to continue in 2018. Younger campers worked on smaller carving projects. Skin sewing, beading, and painting were also some of the included activities. Despite the wet weather campers enjoyed the interaction & cultural learning.

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A Journey To What Matters- Traditional Material Arts at Elders and Youth

Project: Traditional Material Arts at Elders and Youth
Grantee: First Alaskans Institute
Story and Photo by: Lena Jacobs, Participant

I, along with my four children between the ages of 2 and 13 and my husband, attended the Athabascan beadwork and red and yellow cedar weaving workshops at the 2017 First Alaskans Institute Elders & Youth Conference. I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in hands-on arts activities and to have my children participate as well. We learned new technical skills for tangible arts (I had never woven cedar before), but we also gained cultural knowledge to help guide our weaving and beading and understand when and how these activities should be done. We met new people as we were at large round tables and interacted with both Elders and youth from all over the state. The camaraderie and willingness of people to help each other and share new knowledge created a beautiful exchange, and I know that some of these people going home with this new knowledge will share it with others. We were so grateful to have this opportunity, and I look forward to more! (more…)

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A Journey To What Matters Project Grant- First Light at Mt. Edgecumbe

Project: First Light at Mount Edgecumbe
Grantee: First Light Alaska
Story and Photo by: Loulare Moore

It was an honor and a pleasure for me to participate in the Mount Edgecumbe classes this spring. Not only was I allowed to share some of what I have within me, I gained a broad respect for the students pursuing their education so far away from home. Along with their education, they are acquiring new skills as part of a healthy start for a good life.

I had a chance to experience interacting with some of the younger generation and it stirred up my own youth. I allowed myself to be one of them as they allowed themselves to be open to part of my life.

I believe what those involved, including the Superintendent, faculty, staff and students gained, was a lasting feeling of wellness. Many of the cultural activities that I have involved myself in and with produce good fruits of wellness. If I was given the chance to do the same thing again, I would gladly do it without hesitation. I am thankful for an opportunity like this to be part of something so good. It is actually very awesome.

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A Journey To What Matters Project Grant- Ilanka Cultural Arts

Project: Ilanka Cultural Arts
Grantee: Native Village of Eyak
Story and Photo by: Brooke Johnson

Our village was able to receive a grant from The CIRI Foundation in 2016 to study our local masks and work on making our own stained glass mask, a medium that was new to almost all of us. This was a project that we could not afford to do on our own, and was something the entire community was able to enjoy when they visited our Ilanka Cultural Center for over a month after the masks were completed.

Thank you to The CIRI Foundation!

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    Heritage Project Grant- Radio Series on “50 Years: Reflect, Refresh, Renew” at the 2016 AFN Convention Photos

Heritage Project Grant- Radio Series on “50 Years: Reflect, Refresh, Renew” at the 2016 AFN Convention Photos

Project: Radio Series on “50 Years: Reflect, Refresh, Renew” at the 2016 AFN Convention
Grantee: Koahnic Broadcast Corporation
Photos by: Koahnic Broadcast Corporation

These images show the AFN broadcasts and the “Youth Media Makers” sessions from the Elders and Youth Conference.

Alaska’s Native Voice (more…)

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Heritage Project Grant- Radio Series on “50 Years: Reflect, Refresh, Renew” at the 2016 AFN Convention

Project: Radio Series on “50 Years: Reflect, Refresh, Renew” at the 2016 AFN Convention
Grantee: Koahnic Broadcast Corporation
Story by: Joel de Jesus

I had the opportunity to participate in a Koahnic Broadcast Corporation project that was funded by a Heritage Project Grant from The CIRI Foundation. We attended the 2016 Alaska Federation of Natives event in Fairbanks, AK. I helped, along with several other people, teach our future generation the art of making sound modules that consisted of audio they captured throughout the Elders and Youth portion of AFN. (more…)

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