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A Journey to What Matters

A Journey to What Matters- Sugpiaq Shield & War Club Class

Eight students, ranging in age from 16 to 74, made a traditional Sugpiaq-styled folding shield and war club throughout this two-week long class at the beginning of August.  Project: Sugpiaq Shield & War Club ClassGrantee: Ilanka Cultural Center, Native Village of EyakStory and photos: Teal Hansen With assistance from The CIRI Foundation’s (TCF) “A Journey to What Matters” grant program, Ilanka Cultural Center (ICC) offered a Sugpiaq (Alutiiq) Shield and War Club class taught by master carver, Andrew Abyo of Anchorage. Through the honor of this grant, ICC was able to provide an opportunity that allowed the community a chance to revive an art skill inherent in our ancestry and expand their knowledge on the reality of life for Native people in the Chugach Region. “It is important to teach the community about Native arts and cultural values so that we can maintain respect for Native people and their traditions.” - Native Village of Eyak (NVE) Tribal Member and CIRI Shareholder, Nick Tiedeman In traditional Sugpiaq society, warfare was used to garnish wealth, avenge injustices, raise influence, and acquire valuable goods, which included women and slaves. The Sugpiat would war with their own neighboring communities, with Unangax (Aleut’s) to the southwest, Tlingit to the southeast, and with the Dena’ina to the west-northwest. Among other weapons and armor, Sugpiat warriors would carry these wooden clubs and large shields into battle. Sugpiaq stories and legends often lead to conflict and illustrate lessons that were deemed important for future generations.Throughout our history, majority of this area’s cultural artifacts have been stolen and/or taken to foreign museums or private collections around the world. Because of this, NVE tribal members have never had access to a Sugpiaq-styled shield or war club through Ilanka’s cultural programs or museum. ICC was created in 2004 during a time where many of our tribal members were just beginning to create artwork that illustrated our history with contemporary tools and mediums. As an establishment that represents the indigenous people of the region, we must continue to look at how our culture fits into the contemporary world, where we wish to stand in the future, and do so without losing sight of our past.By explored traditional concepts taught by Abyo, the class was able to recreate a tool that was necessary for protection, cultural preservation, and took an active role on shaping our history. It is for this opportunity that we sincerely thank The CIRI Foundation for their role in making this class a reality and appreciate their commitment to maintain cultural priorities.
By |September 22nd, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Sugpiaq Shield & War Club Class
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    A Journey to What Matters- Sitka Fine Arts Camp Culture Classes Phase 2

A Journey to What Matters- Sitka Fine Arts Camp Culture Classes Phase 2

Project: Community Cultural Classes, Phase 2 Grantee: Alaska Arts Southeast Story and photos from: Mary Goddard Community Cultural Classes, Phase 2 was a successful program hosted by the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, and made possible through The CIRI Foundation. Our greatest success was working with […]
By |March 27th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Sitka Fine Arts Camp Culture Classes Phase 2
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    A Journey to What Matters- Hnaa tsesi Workshop and Gathering Project

A Journey to What Matters- Hnaa tsesi Workshop and Gathering Project

Project: Hnaa tsesi Workshop and Gathering Project Grantee: Bunnell Street Arts Center Story and photos: Melissa Shaginoff The Hnaa tsesi Workshop and Gathering brought 22 Elders and youth from the Ahtna villages of Gulkana, Tazlina and Copper Center together for storytelling, workshop, and potlatch. In addition to this gathering, three Dene objects including a moose hide jacket, a sheep horn ladle, and a hnaa tsesi (roll-up sewing bag) were borrowed from a private collection in Anchorage and traveled to the villages.Over a potlatch meal and examination of these objects, the Elders had the opportunity to share with the youth stories about each object, especially the hnaa tsesi. They shared that both women and men had these bags. That they were once filled with tools to sew, bead, and sustain their life-ways. One elder shared that even the wax in the hnaa tsesi, used to prepare thread for sewing, could also provide sustenance in times of famine. Together, Elders and youth examined the hnaa tsesi. Looking at the materials, design, and beading, the youth set to construct their own bag with the guidance of the Elders, my art assistant, and myself. But beyond the construction of the hnaa tsesi was discussion of Ahtna values of preparedness, flexibility, resilience, and survival. This discussion then shifted to an exchange between Elders and youth describing the importance of seeking and nurturing these values in our current lives and community. If this workshop and gathering would to be repeated, I would have consulted the community in an in-person interview asking what specific objects they would like to see and what workshop they would like taught. We did have the opportunity to potlatch where we gifted all the Elders with blankets and honoraria. I believe this action left an impression of transparency, that our purpose in both workshop and gathering was only to support the community in facilitation and, in Dene tradition, lead with the intention to know and understand each other. #gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 16%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */
By |February 4th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Hnaa tsesi Workshop and Gathering Project
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    A Journey to What Matters-Alaska Native PLACE Kec’otl’ Workshop

A Journey to What Matters-Alaska Native PLACE Kec’otl’ Workshop

Project: Alaska Native PLACE Kec’otl’ Workshop Grantee: Alaska Native Heritage Center Story by: Erin Gingrich Photos by: Carla Gingrich On November 23rd and 24th students and artists gathered to learn how to make Kec’otl’, a Dene Athabaskan work boot constructed out of smoked moose hide, canvas, thread, artificial sinew, tanned hide lashing, fleece lining and yard draw strings. The work boot was historically made for everyday wear and use as a more understated utilitarian item.The workshop taught by Sondra Shaginoff-Stuart gathered many people together to learn how to make a single cotton mock up boot for sizing before proceeding into crafting the smoked moose hide booties that were later attached to the canvas boot shaft to make a pair of custom fitted Kec’otl’.During the workshop Athna Language and sewing terms were shared, indigenous stories were told and Native food was eaten as students worked on their boots.  The skin sewing was done with the good thoughts and intentions that surrounded the event as students were taught how to honor and respect the materials shared. #gallery-2 { margin: auto; } #gallery-2 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 20%; } #gallery-2 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-2 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Sewing Cotton mock up Cutting smoked moose hide Skin sewing moose hide Finished moose hide booties Trying Booties on for size
By |January 29th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters-Alaska Native PLACE Kec’otl’ Workshop
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    A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Kamipiaq Hard Bottom Crimping Class

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Kamipiaq Hard Bottom Crimping Class

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Kamipiaq Hard Bottom Crimping Class 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. Project: ARTShops 2019 Kamipiaq Hard Bottom Crimping Class Alaska State Council on the Arts Partnership Story by: Joni Edwardsen The Kamipiaq Hard Bottom Crimping Class took place in Utqiagvik, Alaska. I held a small group gathering to teach them the process of how to make kamipiaq/maklak hard bottoms out of bearded sealskin. I chose to do a small group to ensure my teaching was intentional through a one-on-one interaction. The class lasted 4 days (evenings) in order for their projects to be complete. The outcome was a success! Each participant learned the skill from start to finish and they feel confident in accomplishing this skill again on their own.
By |January 20th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, ARTShops, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Kamipiaq Hard Bottom Crimping Class
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    A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Unangan Fishskin Boot Workshop

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Unangan Fishskin Boot Workshop

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Unangan Fishskin Boot Workshop 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. Project: ARTShops 2019 Unangan Fishskin Boot Workshop Alaska State Council on the Arts Partnership Story by: Laresa Syverson At three ARTShop events during the summer and fall of 2019, I shared how to clean and process fish skins to use for sewing projects, with an overarching goal of researching and reclaiming Unangan footwear. After a generous donation of halibut skins from Westward Seafoods for the two fall events, local participants learned how to clean the skins, preserve the skins until ready for sewing, and were given multiple examples of how the drying and manipulating process will give varied results. Participants were given frozen, unprocessed fish skins to take home and use in a project of their own choosing. I am looking forward to having more opportunities to view Unangan footwear in person, forming patterns, and learning the Unangan language for teaching this art. As I learned more about fish skins and how to use them, I also formed working relationships with local people and organizations. Just like there are many fish in the sea with unique skins that are useful for a variety of purposes, there are uniquely skilled people living in my community. I worked with a voice actor for advertising, the processing plants for different skins, and viewed gut sewing and stitching at our Museum. The ARTShop experience will enrich my creative process and my ability to lead within the community for years to come.
By |January 20th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, ARTShops, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Unangan Fishskin Boot Workshop
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    A Journey To What Matters- Soapstone Carving Using Denaakk’e & Inupiaq

A Journey To What Matters- Soapstone Carving Using Denaakk’e & Inupiaq

Soapstone Carving Using Denaakk'e & Inupiaq Story by Dewey Hoffman My partner Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone and I cohosted a 90 minute workshop on carving soapstone with Elders and Youth Participants in October 2019.We integrated words, phrases and commands in both Denaakk’e (Koyukon Athabascan) and Inupiaq languages. It wasn’t quite long enough in length, but students were able to have a hands on experience carving and working with their hands to cut, contour and smooth their pieces. One of the highlights was hearing a student say “I can’t do it!” while cutting a stone, but with persistence eventually was able to complete that step in the process. The Alaska Native Arts Studio at UAF helped by donating the use of carving tools.
By |January 7th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey To What Matters- Soapstone Carving Using Denaakk’e & Inupiaq
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    A Journey To What Matters- Sivuqam Kelugwi: A St. Lawrence Island Traditional Sewing Curriculum

A Journey To What Matters- Sivuqam Kelugwi: A St. Lawrence Island Traditional Sewing Curriculum

Sivuqam Kelugwi: A St. Lawrence Island Traditional Sewing Curriculum Project: St. Lawrence Traditional Sewing Grantee: Kawarek, Inc. Story by Danielle Slingsby Skills such as skin sewing were essential to the survival of our ancestors. In the past, these traditions were passed down from generation to generation inside a tent by the light of a seal oil lamp, or in a small home surrounded by loved ones. In the present day, with the Western education structure, the knowledge held by our culture bearers can at times seem impossible to access.  But with an idea and a passion to ensure cultural knowledge remains alive for future generations, Lydia Apatiki of Sivuqaq recently published “Sivuqam Kelugwi: A St. Lawrence Island Traditional Sewing Curriculum,” complete with downloadable patterns, online videos, PowerPoints, and tutorials for students to learn how to make an aangquq (game ball), taghnughhaghwaaq (St Lawrence Island cloth doll) and atkuk amighqwaaq (birdskin parka). The journey to get to the final product was not an easy one, but it began with Lydia’s dedication to preserving the knowledge of her ancestors. The connections to find the resources to turn her desire to a reality started at a Native Artists Professional Development Training offered by Kawerak, Inc., and First Peoples Fund. It was there that Lydia identified a grant opportunity that could cover the costs of designing and printing a hard copy of the teachings she held in her head. She dreamed her knowledge could then be passed on to the next generations for lifetimes to come. Through her experience with the schools, Lydia knew that if the traditional practices of sewing were taught in this formal setting, more youth would be exposed to their culture. She knew that the traditional techniques and interconnected language and values could be lost if they weren’t somehow preserved. “By documenting the sewing practices, our young generations will learn about our traditional values, practice St. Lawrence Island Yupik terminology, and learn the traditional stitches,” Lydia commented. “They will become cultural bearers to keep our culture and language alive.” Partnow Consulting helped Lydia turn her knowledge into a curriculum that would be easy for teachers to use in a school setting. Patricia Partnow, 48-year veteran researcher and writer, recognized the project’s value. “Most coastal people in Alaska made parkas out of bird skins, and there are many examples in museums, but Lydia is the only person I know who has made one herself using the knowledge from her elders,” Partnow said. “What a loss if we had not been able to record this bit of human knowledge. And how lucky we are that we have the whole process in the curriculum, from getting the birds to sewing the parka. I don’t know of a comparable curriculum anywhere.”  Apatiki has also made it a priority for the curriculum to be free to educational institutions, so funding would never be a barrier for students to reach their culture. “It is important to know where you come from, to know your language a, traditional values and skills,” Lydia says. The curriculum goes farther than simply offering a pattern and written instructions on how to make items like the aangquq. Through layers of instruction available online, Lydia integrates language learning, hunting skills, material preparation, and cultural values. Lydia realizes that creating these items is not just about the end product. Values, language, and traditions are thoroughly intertwined in these cultural practices, and much is lost if attempting to teach one element in isolation from the others. Utilizing modern technology like videos makes the material more accessible to youth and more understandable for teachers. The videos that accompany the projects show hunting techniques and practices, traditional songs, sewing techniques, and celebrations. Due to the variety and depth of content, challenges in communication and funding, and expert consultation for development and design, the curriculum took two years to complete. The support of partners like Kawerak, First Peoples Fund, The CIRI Foundation, Bering Sea Lions Club, Partnow Consulting and Gales Communications and Design was crucial to the project. “We want people to know that their knowledge is valuable, their skills are valuable, and they have the ability to use this to provide for themselves and their families,” says Alice Bioff, business planning specialist with Kawerak.  “This project is exciting because it blends tradition and technology, education and business, culture and art all in one.” Although the curriculum is free to educational institutions, anyone will be able to purchase the curriculum online and have access to all the materials and downloads. The fee will support the hosting of the online sharing platform and ideally also return a profit to the Apatiki family. Local people documenting generations-old cultural knowledge to ensure that the knowledge will be available to many future generations is in itself an act of making history. As Patricia Partnow reflects. “From the viewpoint of history alone, Lydia and her art are a treasure.”
By |January 6th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey To What Matters- Sivuqam Kelugwi: A St. Lawrence Island Traditional Sewing Curriculum

A Journey to What Matters- Fish Skin Fashion Workshop

ARCTIC STUDIES CENTER ANCHORAGE MUSEUM FASHION SKETCHBOOK WORKSHOP Special project funded in part by A Journey to What Matters program.Dates: Anchorage 17th July- 18th July 2019During a two-day Fashion Sketchbook Workshop, Fulbright UK US scholar Elisa Palomino led students through the process of collecting personal research from diverse and inspiring sources. The workshop took place at the Arctic Studies Center at the Anchorage Museum. Students had the unique chance to use imagery from the Smithsonian’s collections as part of the research content for their sketchbook, encouraging them to engage in further research about their own Alaskan Native culture.The workshop had an initial introduction of Elisa Palomino’s current PhD research on Intangible cultural heritage preservation connected with fish skin. Elisa shared with the students the fish skin knowledge gathered through the workshops she has developed among the different Arctic artists across the circumpolar area and her own printing techniques. The workshops have been envisioned as the beginning of a continuing and expanding discourse allowing for conversations on the future of fish skin craft. Collaboration with indigenous partners have enriched her understanding of this material and the experiences gained continue to guide and inform the methods and attitudes she uses to work with indigenous communities. Most of the participants in the workshop use fish skin already and were glad to learn new fish skin tanning, dying and printing techniques to incorporate them into their own practice. Artist's Sketchbook Pages Carla Kelliher Gingrich’s sketchbook inspired on northern lights digitally printed kuspuks.Danielle Larsen's 50s Alaskan packaging inspired sketchbook.Coral Chernoff's St. Lawrence Island gutskin parkas and Arctic flora inspired sketchbook.Erin Gingrich's Yukon river wildlife habitat inspired sketchbook. Previous Next Coral Chernoff, Elisa Palomino and Danielle Larsen
By |December 16th, 2019|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Fish Skin Fashion Workshop

A Journey to What Matters- Kasaan Community Carving Program

Carving back time Project: Community Carving Program Grantee: Organized Village of Kasaan Story and photos from: Bethany Goodrich, Sustainable Southeast Partnership and Marina Anderson, Organized Village of Kasaan In the small village of Kasaan, Alaska is a carving shed nestled among trees and wildlife. […]
By |December 9th, 2019|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Kasaan Community Carving Program