TCF Scholarship Recipient- Christian Kamkoff

Story and Photo by: Christian Kamkoff

The cultural support of American Indians and Alaskan Natives is incredibly important to the community. A critical component of this support comes through cultural preservation. Equally significant, however, is the continued growth of Native American culture. It is important to show the world that Indigenous culture is not simply a historical culture, but a vibrant, living culture as well. I have met individuals, both from the United States and abroad, that were surprised to learn that American Indians are not a bygone ethnicity. I believe that the low percentage of American Indians and Alaskan Natives who graduate college compounds with the fact that fine and performing arts are the smallest category of degrees received, resulting in an incredibly small number of Native Americans in the arts—especially in literature. The success of American Indians in any field, but particularly in the arts, reminds the world that we are still here, we are thriving, and we have a beautiful, creative culture that enriches humanity. It is my hope to contribute as an author to the voice of this culture. By giving me the tools to improve and become a successful writer, my education will help me make an impact as an artist of Native heritage.

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A Journey To What Matters Project Grant- Traditional Alutiiq Skin Sewing and Beading Education

Project: Traditional Alutiiq Skin Sewing and Beading Education (2015)
Grantee: Native Village of Afognak
Story and Photos by: Nina Gronn

The Native Village of Afognak (NVA) was awarded A Journey To What Matters grant from the CIRI Foundation. NVA used the funding at our Dig Afognak Youth camps for two separate traditional Alutiiq art projects.

Our first project was completed at our Traditional Harvesting and Adventure Earth camp, where the youth created fur pouches that replicated the traditional Alutiiq pouches that our ancestors used. The second project was completed at our Cauyaq (“Music” / Language) Camp, where the youth created Alutiiq head bands. The head bands were used as regalia for their Alutiiq dancing performance at the end of the 6-day long camp.

Both projects were taught by both lecture and hands on learning from a master skin sewer.


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A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ArtShops 2016 Ancient Alutiiq Cell Phones


Project: ArtShops 2016 Ancient Alutiiq Cell Phones Alaska State Council on the Arts Partnership Photos by: Anna Lisa Nelson 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 … Read more

Heritage Project Grant- 2017 NYO Games Alaska

Project: 2017 NYO Games Alaska
Grantee: Cook Inlet Tribal Council
Photos by: CITC

NYO Games celebrates the rich tradition of Alaska Native people, while providing a forum for our youth to achieve their personal best through healthy athletic competition. NYO Games are comprised of 10 Native games events that are based on skills and values needed to survive Alaska’s harsh environment.

NYO is a year-round program that instills important values including teamwork, leadership, and respect. A survey completed by more than 400 student athletes emphasized NYO’s important impact, with 77% responding that participation in NYO was a factor in staying in school and/or keeping their grades up, and nearly 66% indicating improved self-confidence. 88% participants responded that they saw themselves as a role-model to other youth through their participation in the Games, and many cited healthy behavioral modifications, including reduction of tobacco and alcohol use.

CITC is extremely proud to host NYO Games Alaska, working with communities throughout the state, and local and national partners, as we have done for 47 years. Hosting NYO Games Alaska itself is a team effort and we are grateful for The CIRI Foundation’s loyal commitment in supporting the NYO program.

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TCF Scholarship Recipient- Savannah Bickley

My mother tied the makeshift plastic bib around my tiny torso checking to make sure it wasn’t too tight. Guiding my pudgy hands, she gently dipped them into a small bowl of paint (non-toxic of course) and pressed it against the smooth paper. Little did she know of the monster she had just unleashed upon the world, for in that exact moment, when tiny hands touched canvas, art began to play a huge impact on my life.

I drew on anything I could scavenge from mom’s spreadsheets to homework. Thankfully for my parents’ sanity, as I grew older my preferences turned from paperwork to sketch pads. My skills started to become more expansive and fleshed out as I started to explore every nook of my favorite subject, from sculpting to digital artwork, my love seemed to know no bounds and it quickly became obvious that I was destined to be an artist.

Well, should I say obvious to everyone but myself.

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A Journey To What Matters and Heritage Project Grant- Culture in the Classrooms

Project: Culture in the Classrooms
Grantee: Cook Inlet Native Head Start
Written by: Marilynn Woods, Cultural Coordinator

Dustin Newman & Tatiana Petticrew

We had Dustin Newman and Tatiana Petticrew share with our students the items that they made for our classrooms, Dustin made bentwood visors and Tatiana made Unangax regalia. The students were able to touch all the items and learned a little history about each. Dustin made the visors match each classroom animal and Tatiana made a girl and boy regalia item for each class.


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A Journey To What Matters Project Grant- Twining Cedar

Project: Twining Cedar- Restoring the Art and Cultural Practice of Tsimshian Bark Basketry Grantee: Anchorage Museum Association in partnership with the Haayk Foundation Photos by: Wayde Carroll [one_half last=”no”] [/one_half][one_half last=”yes”] Written by: Kandi McGilton  The Haayk Foundation – a nonprofit organization located in Metlakatla, Alaska, whose primary goal is to save Sm’algyax, the endangered language of the … Read more

A Journey To What Matters Project Grant- Material Traditions: Cedar Residency

Project: Material Traditions: Gut, Ivory, and Cedar Grantee: Anchorage Museum Association Written by: Marian Kaminitz As a conservator from the National Museum of the American Indian – one of the loaning institutions to the Anchorage Museum’s Arctic Studies Center – I was invited to observe and participate in the Voices from Cedar residency with guest carvers John Hudson, … Read more

TCF Scholarship Recipient- Tammy Ashley, “My Academic Success”

My name is Tammy Tuttle Ashley, daughter to Terry and Delores Tuttle. I am an original CIRI shareholder born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. My Grandmother Alma (Foster) McCormick and Mother were born on Unga Island in the Shumagin Islands on the Aleutian Chain and my Grandfather Roy Ashenfelter was born in Council and lived … Read more