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A Journey to What Matters

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    A Journey to What Matters- Unangax̂ Regalia Making Workshop in Akutan

A Journey to What Matters- Unangax̂ Regalia Making Workshop in Akutan

Unangax̂ Regalia Making Workshop in Akutan Grantee: Native Village of AkutanStory from Haliehana Stepetin, Workshop Leader The Regalia Making Workshop held in Akutan on August 3rd through 13th, 2021 was a wonderful community event that brought together an intergenerational group of participants around a shared desire to learn and revitalize Unangax̂ Ancestral clothing and regalia. In previous years, regalia making had not been open to the entire community but was prioritized for members of the village dance group, the Akutanam Ax̂asniikangin. This workshop was the first of its kind considering it was led from within the community and was available to all community members, not only dancers. As the lead artist and project director, it was important to me to offer a class that anyone in the community could attend. The older generation of Akutan did not have many opportunities to participate in cultural projects such as making their own regalia. This was largely due to colonial interruptions in the transmissions of Unangax̂ culture and knowledge, and particularly, the legacy of U.S. assimilationist boarding school policies that pervaded the school system until recently. Several participants that attended the Regalia Making Workshop represent this generation.The workshop, held over the course of ten days, had ten to fifteen participants each day. Several participants joined to learn how to sew their own Unangax̂-style women’s headdresses. For the eight to twelve participants creating their own sax̂, the full-length regalia in Unangam Tunuu, it was critical to teach them how to cut furs and the associated technique of skin sewing. Part of teaching participants to make their own regalia includes revitalizing family designs that stopped being transmitted during Russian and early American colonial periods. This revitalization includes participants designing their own individualized regalia. In the past, basic regalia construction and short time periods left little room to create personalized regalia with associated family designs. However, I thought it was important to reflect personal individuality and kinship relations in the design of regalia, even if that lengthened the time it would take to complete regalia. Considering that a lot of our family designs have no longer been transmitted for several generations, this workshop was an opportunity to revitalize those and create shared designs for many participants who share kinship lineages. These designs are often reflected in the weavers, or the small pieces of leather with intricate designs connecting panels of regalia, on cuffs, and the bottom of regalia. #gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ As a Qigiiĝun Unangax̂ living away from my homelands/waters, it is extremely important for me to pass on the knowledges of skin sewing and regalia making to my own community in hopes that they continue sharing these skills in Akutan. All participants of the workshop reminded me of the strength of our community, the significance of gathering to create and share, and how working together fosters cohesiveness and cultures of respect –the very values I was raised with in Akutan.It was important for me to teach the skill of regalia making to my community in hopes that all Unangax̂ Peoples can have their own regalia. In my experience attending university outside the state of Alaska, I noticed that many Indigenous Peoples elsewhere have their own personalized regalia, whether they are dancers or not. It’s important to me to revitalize this part of our culture as a way to facilitate belonging for all community members, especially those who were denied opportunities to truly bear our culture in their upbringing. This way, we can bring our whole selves to spaces and not simply “walk in two worlds.” Learning the skill to make our own regalia and wearing it at special events, for dance, and other significant occasions is an act of cultural reclamation. I taught this workshop with reclamation and revitalization in mind, with a desire to instill agency in Qigiiĝun Unangax̂ of Akutan, and to be able to foster belonging and empowerment for all community members.
By |October 5th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Unangax̂ Regalia Making Workshop in Akutan
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    A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2021: Cauyaq Making

A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2021: Cauyaq Making

A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2021 The ARTShops program is a collaboration between the Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Alaska Native Heritage Center 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. Graduate ARTShops 2021 Cauyaq Making Final Report Story by: Amber Webb, ARTShop Leader My Graduate ARTShop project focused on cauyaq (drum) and included demonstrations and instruction about harvesting and splitting frame wood, bending, and frame construction, and then drum covering with Ossie Kairaiuak. It also included discussion about, traditional etiquette and the role of Yuraq and drums in our social structure.              There were several methods we discussed around bending wood, one of which involved weighing wood down in a deeper part of Lake Aleknagik to use the pressure of water instead of steaming or boiling it.  This process made us wonder if that is why the original name for Aleknagik was a variation of the Yugtun word for a place to lash, since a lot of our bent wood utensils and tools were lashed.  This renewed interest in lashing techniques.  Some of us are also working on starting other projects with bent wood like dance masks, fans, bowls, containers and even kayak frames.               We were able to have daily potlucks and Yup’ik dancing during class and in the evening as well.  It was a small group who came to dance, but it included some of our most enthusiastic community members.  It was especially meaningful for my sister and I who danced for 12 years with the Greatland dancers under William and Marie Tyson of St. Mary during our childhood.  Neither of us had danced in about 20 years and we both remembered the songs better than I had expected.               One very special moment after the class was when my husband’s 80 year-old uncle who is in the early stages of dementia and usually very quiet came to the house and saw the drum that was made at the workshop.  He became very animated and asked to hold the drum. He began drumming and then stopped, exclaiming that he hadn’t seen one of these in many years.  He then asked if he could take the drum home to practice a song that he was trying to remember so that he could come back and play it for his nephew.               After the class, we attended a Yuraq performance in Anchorage and my 4 year-old daughter, who had not seen much Yuraq before the class, was inspired on her own to go up next to one of the dancers and try dancing the song she had never heard.  Since the class, I will hear her sing some of the songs that we learned while she plays.  I believe our ARTShop will have a lasting regional impact during the coming years.               I appreciate the flexibility of the ARTShop program because it lends itself to traditional and informal ways of working.  Quyana for allowing me to participate in this program.   
By |September 20th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, ARTShops, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2021: Cauyaq Making
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    A Journey to What Matters- Ancient Whistle Virtually Bringing Us Together

A Journey to What Matters- Ancient Whistle Virtually Bringing Us Together

Ancient Whistle Virtually Bringing Us Together Grantee: Smithsonian Institution Arctic Studies CenterStory from Karla Booth, Project Participant I am Karla Booth, Ts’msyen of the Raven Clan and my family comes from the community of Metlakatla, though I live on Dena’ina lands in Anchorage. I want to express gratitude for The CIRI Foundation, Journey to What Matters, and the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center for allowing me to participate in the Tsimshian Whistle Carving Workshop taught by John Hudson III. My family and I regularly dance with Lepquinm Gumilgit Gagoadim Tsimshian Dancers where we use drums, rattles, and our voices to celebrate our culture with others. By taking this class I learned another way that my dance group can enhance our performances and strengthen connections with our Ancestors.This class was taught over the popular pandemic tool, Zoom, and all participants were equipped with an amazing set of handmade carving tools and cedar blocks to carve an under-utilized instrument from. John patiently shared over the computer what he learned about this ancient instrument and demonstrated the techniques that he found most efficient. He was able to actively keep us engaged by demonstrating the steps, repeating the instructions, and allowing quiet time for carving and questions. Historical materials and videos from earlier workshops were shared so we could have a greater understanding of the importance of cedar and how these whistles were used throughout southeast Alaska.I was taught that knowledge isn’t valid unless it is shared with others and I feel that this project is a good example of this. John shared knowledge that has been asleep in our culture, knowledge that was passed to him, and new knowledge that he discovered through his own research. The class participants learned from the demonstrations, participated in the community that was built through storytelling and carving, and felt the spiritual connection that was made when the whistles were blown and we discussed our traditional ways of life. Not everyone in the class completed their whistles during the allotted time but we know that its up to us to complete it to receive the gift that is waiting for us. I look forward to the world that this whistle will open up to me and the opportunity to share it with others. Nt’oyaxsism to everyone that made this opportunity possible!
By |September 20th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Ancient Whistle Virtually Bringing Us Together
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    A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2021: Hide Work in Continuous Community

A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2021: Hide Work in Continuous Community

A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2021 The ARTShops program is a collaboration between the Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Alaska Native Heritage Center 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. Graduate ARTShops 2021Hide Work in Continuous CommunityStory by: Melissa Shaginoff, ARTShop Leader For this Graduate ARTShop Project I was able to meet all my goals with slight adjustments with the delivery of the project to my community. Working in Dgheyey kaq’ (Anchorage) I was able to connect with a small group of hide workers and hide work teachers. To work on hides in a good way we first needed to establish a connection to both our human and animal relatives. This involves building trust within our community of learning and developing deep kinship relations with each other and our knowledge of the animals.For this project I networked with friends and friends of friends to collect the animal materials from roadkill. I received two hides and four front legs of one moose and one caribou. Creating a virtual group was quite difficult as the spring and summer are primarily reserved for subsistence activities. What I was able to do was have concentrated relation-building and co-learning time with several individuals separately. I plan on continuing to learn about hide work with them.Over the summer I created two hides scrapers, fleshed and brain-soaked three hides, established an online cohort of hide learners, connected with Elders, and worked alongside my family.The Graduate ARTShops Project really help me continue my journey in hide work. It is a process of learning that requires an integration into one’s life. A truly decolonial approach into learning is understanding that it is a continuum and way of being. I am truly grateful for the support in deepening my relationship to the individuals in this project. As we grow in community so does our collective knowledge and our trust of one another. It is our responsibility honor these animal relatives through processing their gift in hide work.
By |September 17th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, ARTShops, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2021: Hide Work in Continuous Community
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    A Journey to What Matters- Alaska Native PLACE in the Pandemic

A Journey to What Matters- Alaska Native PLACE in the Pandemic

Alaska Native PLACE in the Pandemic Grantee: Alaska Native Heritage CenterStory from Melissa Shaginoff, TCF Recipient and Project Coordinator Over the past year, the grassroots collective Alaska Native PLACE (Providing Living Artists Creative Environments) undertook the planning of seven intergenerational art workshops with mentor Alaska Native artists and Alaska Native participants from all over the state and country. During the planning stages of this project, the COVID-19 global pandemic and subsequent mandated shut-down procedures were put in place. Our response was to adjust our in-person workshop model to offer virtual Zoom workshops.To best serve the Alaska Native PLACE collective, organizers selected seven Alaska Native artists to teach virtual workshops. While the pandemic stopped us from meeting in-person, it opened the door for our collective to reach out to artists beyond the Anchorage region. In addition to the intentions to grow the Alaska Native artist community throughout Alaska, our collective understood that the upcoming year would be particularly challenging for artists. With the loss of in-person markets, the cancelling of art orders and workshops, artists would be faced with a year of no in-person gatherings of our group. With this loss of multiple supports, our collective was determined to spread our funding first and foremost to artists. Each Alaska Native artist received a stipend and logistical support from the appointed collective Art Director. The Art Director would reach out and schedule with artists, advertise the workshops, email each participant, manage the calendar, schedule the workshop, shop for materials, create individual material kits, and mail and/or deliver kits to participants in Anchorage and the valley.These are the following workshops that were hosted:• Devil’s Club Beads with Kari Shaginoff; June 22, 2020• Formline Snowflakes with Benjamin Schleifman; December 22, 2020• Dene Rifle Case with Charlie Pardue; January 8 – 10, 2021• Rabbit Skin Mittens with June Pardue; February 12 – 13, 2021• Drawing and Ahtna Language with Dimi Macheras; February 25, 2021• Atikłuk Sewing with Bobby Itta; April 10 – 11, 2021• Drawing and Storytelling with Holly Mitiquq Nordlum; April 30, 2021While of course there were limitations with the pandemic, PLACE reached Alaska Native participants aging from 12 to 79 years old. We mailed workshop kits all over Alaska as well as the lower 48 and over 70% of the funds received was paid directly to the Alaska Native artists.
By |September 16th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Alaska Native PLACE in the Pandemic
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    A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2021: Caribou Tufting and Beading Medallions

A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2021: Caribou Tufting and Beading Medallions

A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2021 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. Graduate ARTShops 2021Caribou Tufting and Beading MedallionsStory by: Rochelle Adams, ARTShop Leader I’m so excited about the workshop that I was able to complete for my Garduate ARTShop project. I was able to hold it during the same time as our Native Language Technical Institute in Gwichyaa Zhee/ Fort Yukon when our elders were gathered from the region to do language work.We made caribou hair medallions and other projects. First we dyed the caribou hair and then we did caribou hair tufting and beading. I learned a lot in the process and will be making language lessons to share with my pictures. I hope to someday make a book out of it.I really loved this project! I grew a lot in the language, it strengthened my connection to my culture, our cultural knowledge, my community and the participants. I’m grateful to shape my thought process of this activity within the language and to create an actual piece that was done entirely in immersion. Mahsì’ choo for the opportunity!
By |August 2nd, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, ARTShops, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2021: Caribou Tufting and Beading Medallions
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    A Journey to What Matters- Revitalizing Cottage Industry and Intergenerational Work in Rural Alaska to Strengthen Community, Self-Reliance, and the Northwest Coast Weaving Traditions

A Journey to What Matters- Revitalizing Cottage Industry and Intergenerational Work in Rural Alaska to Strengthen Community, Self-Reliance, and the Northwest Coast Weaving Traditions

Revitalizing Cottage Industry and Intergenerational Work in Rural Alaska to Strengthen Community, Self-Reliance, and the Northwest Coast Weaving Traditions Grantee: Friends of the State Library, Archives and MuseumStory from Weavers of Chilkat and Ravenstail, Photos by Sydney Akagi Photography Seasoned Weaver, Lily Hope (Tlingit), is a full-time artist, teacher and weaver of Northwest Coast Textiles. Through her constant teaching work, she realized there was a shortage of suppliers: only three artisans who thigh-spin daily to sell warp needed for the handful of Chilkat blanket makers, and hundreds of students and textile lovers of both Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving, the premiere finger-twined textiles of the Northwest Coast. Additionally, there are very few persons who dye using the anthropologically recorded natural dyes for woven ceremonial textiles.Hope partnered with TCF, Sealaska Heritage Foundation (SHI), Friends of the State Library, Archives and Museum, and a few creative allies to bring about six FREE instructional videos on SHI’s Youtube channel, for easy access. She also compiled, ordered, bundled, and shipped all needed materials for thigh-spinning and natural dyeing to weaver teachers in six rural Southeast Alaska Communities, including Angoon, Yakutat, Sitka, Ketchikan, Petersburg, and Kake. These weaver teachers agreed to share their materials and watch the videos together with younger weaver students in their communities, supporting intergenerational learning. The aim is to empower rural Alaskan weavers to become self-sufficient in material preparations, and hopefully find some weavers or youth who are interested spinning and dyeing regularly, selling much-needed warps and weft yarns to support full-time weavers across Alaska and Canada, while supporting their own families with cottage industry income.Feedback from the YouTube video tutorials so far is tremendous, with over 1600 views! Many weavers in Alaska and beyond feel like they can support their own weaving by spinning a little bit each day, building up supply for their next projects. We have yet to find the spinner or dyer who loves spinning more than weaving, but the knowledge is permanent now, so we are confident our needed people will connect with us soon.Gunalcheesh, TCF, SHI, and the Friends of the State Library Archives and Museum, Authentimedia (Scott Burton Productions), Sydney Akagi Photography, and Graphic Designer Ursala Hudson. Many Thanks to Weaver, Lily Hope, who shares with deep generosity of spirit. Our textile art forms will be carried into the next hundred years with strength and integrity, with heart and community support. Thank you again for your help.
By |June 11th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Revitalizing Cottage Industry and Intergenerational Work in Rural Alaska to Strengthen Community, Self-Reliance, and the Northwest Coast Weaving Traditions
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    A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Bentwood Box Making Class

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Bentwood Box Making Class

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership ARTShops 2020 Bentwood Box Making Class Story by Robert Mills 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. Thanks to the CIRI Foundation and the Alaska State Council on the Arts for supporting a Bentwood Box making class in Kake, AK through the ARTShop program. Although COVID prevented the class from happening in person in 2020, I was able to make the class happen in 2021. Bentwood Boxes were once prevalent and highly valuable trade items up and down the Northwest Coast. Due to the many facets of colonization, many of those boxes have been looted and now exist in institutions around the world.Worst yet, the practice of making them ceased to exist in some communities. With the class in Kake, we hope to begin making these beautiful items again to promote cultural vibrancy, healthy learning environments, and continue the technology for generations to come. We were able to have many kids attend the class as well as people who are teaching in the community, so hopefully the practice continues to perpetuate itself. Follow Robert Mill's Work Here
By |April 12th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, ARTShops, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Bentwood Box Making Class
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    A Journey to What Matters- “Native Artist” Explores Identity and Lost History

A Journey to What Matters- “Native Artist” Explores Identity and Lost History

“Native Artist” Explores Identity and Lost History By Alexis Sallee, INDIGEFI Host and Producer I’m Alexis Sallee, host and producer of INDIGEFI, a weekly one-hour public radio show featuring an eclectic blend of modern Indigenous music. Aside from the weekly radio show, I’ve worked in audio for film and TV in the greater Los Angeles area for the last nine years.In 2020, I was fortunate to work on a project that has given me the opportunity to focus on a diverse group of Native artists, and share their unique stories on the multimedia “Native Artist” series, a project of INDIGEFI.Funding from The CIRI Foundation’s Journey to What Matters program helped us to bring two episodes of “Native Artists” to listeners that are centered on Alaska Native artists: Drew Michael (Yup’ik and Iñupiaq) a carver and mixed media artist, and Tristan Agnauraq Morgan (Iñupiaq) a painter.I have always thought of myself as a listener, and as someone who listens to learn. I feel there is a connection between this quality and my Indigenous heritage, (Iñupiaq and Mexican) with its legacy of oral traditions and storytelling. I learned so much from interviewing the artists who participated in this project, and about their personal journeys practicing their art, and expressing Indigenous traditions to make them their own. I realized at some point that I was working in a medium and a style that had so much history. And there was also a lot of lost history…I felt like there was this huge book that I needed to start reading, but then there wasn’t one. In my eyes I didn’t have the access, because I had no idea what was even out there. Drew Michael Featured in “Native Artist” Episode 3 I particularly enjoyed producing the episode of “Native Artist” focused on Drew Michael, who shared his struggles with identity as Alaska Native artist from Bethel who grew up with white adoptive parents in Eagle River. His search for answers led him to traditional Native art, and a journey of self-education, research, and guidance from mentors including Joseph Senungetuk, Kathleen Carlo, and Perry Eaton led him to life as a working artist.Among the topics Drew discussed in this episode included his work with Alaska Native dance group Pamyua to experiment with masks that allow the parts to move as a dancer moves. Drew talked about how both he and Pamyua work in traditional realms, but expressed in a modern way, which has enabled an effective collaboration for danceable masks. Listen to Native Artist Podcast by INDIGEFI The Native Artist podcast takes a deep dive into the stories of Indigenous artists, spanning a wide range of artistic disciplines. From directors and writers to carvers and fashion designers, artists share their unique stories and perspectives on navigating these fields while reclaiming Native identity. Listen and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. Apple Podcasts Spotify Google Play Stitcher
By |March 4th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- “Native Artist” Explores Identity and Lost History
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    A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Braiding Beach Grass

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Braiding Beach Grass

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership ARTShops 2020 Braiding Beach Grass Story by Apay'uq Moore 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. As part of my ARTShop project, I spent four days harvesting red salmon and camping at Togiak Lake with my mom. In returning to Twin Hills, we harvested grass between four generations. It was memorable and priceless. It was new to us, as we have never done that together. We have never spent time aiming for a goal in creative gathering. Usually we subsist for food, but to participate in gathering for an art project was something I will forever cherish, as I recall the day, the breeze, the clouds, my grandma’s voice, my kids in the background, and the setting of being in Twin Hills, a place of saturated love and nostalgia for the parts of my identity where I unknowingly learned to be Yup’ik as a child. The most important part of this, was tapping into the memory of my mom and grandma. To hear them recall advice from a time that was so different from now was like magic. Follow Apay'uq Moore's Work Here
By |March 4th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, ARTShops, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Braiding Beach Grass