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Latest From The Blog

  • 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

  • September 20th, 2021

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.   

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

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

  • September 20th, 2021

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!

  • 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

  • September 17th, 2021

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.

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