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Stories by TCF Recipients & Alumni

Heritage Project Grant- Honoring Place

Cook Inlet Housing Authority's Honoring Place​ By Sezy Gerow-Hanson Artist Danielle Larsen is a contemporary illustrator and painter with Unangan Aleut, Koyukaon Athabascan, Inupiaq, and European ancestry. She is a recipient of TCF’s scholarships and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Alaska Native Art from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Cook Inlet Housing Authority (CIHA) partnered with The CIRI Foundation (TCF) for a Heritage Project titled “Honoring Place”. As Cook Inlet Housing was preparing to build its first affordable housing development in downtown Anchorage, we began talking with TCF about a unique opportunity to acknowledge and uplift Dena’ina land and culture at the development site. This idea became “Honoring Place” and involved finding a partner artist to create unique art for each floor of the building that could help tell the story of Dena’ina land and people for the residents, visitors and community partners. Fine artist and CIRI descendant Danielle Larsen was selected for the project and began her almost yearlong work creating these artworks that depict Dena’ina flora. Once installed each piece of artwork has an accompanying placard that has the Dena’ina plant name and how Dena’ina used each of the plants. It’s a cultural lesson presented in a beautiful piece of art. In addition to the flora, Danielle also created a portrait of Elizabeth Peratrovich for the lobby of the building, which is named Elizabeth Place in honor of the Alaska Native civil rights leader. This artwork also includes an educational placard describing Elizabeth’s role in the passage of the 1945 Anti-Discrimination Act in Alaska, which made it illegal to discriminate in public accommodations and facilities based on race. The inclusion of these specific Dena’ina plants depicted in the art also provides a sense of welcome and familiarity to our residents. For our CIRI shareholders and descendants it is an acknowledgement of their ancestry and denotes a place of belonging and well being specifically for them. To celebrate the completion of the project, a Grand Opening and First Friday event was held in December. Event participants included new residents at the building, community partners and funders, as well the community at large. Guests were encourage to explore and learn by visiting each of the artworks and some of the open apartments. At the conclusion guests were asked to participate in a questionnaire so that we could find out if the learned anything new about Elizabeth Peratrovich or Dena’ina land and culture. Survey results showed that they learned many things about Dena’ina land, plants and their uses, as well as just a general acknowledgement that we are living, working and playing on Dena’ina land. CIHA would like to thank The CIRI Foundation and Danielle Larsen for partnering with us on “Honoring Place”. We are honored to host these works of art within Elizabeth Place and pleased to help acknowledge, preserve and promote Dena’ina land and culture for generations to come. Guests chat with artist, Danielle Larsen. Guests read placard about Alaskan cranberries.
By |January 6th, 2020|Featured Posts, Heritage, Project Grant|Comments Off on Heritage Project Grant- Honoring Place
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    A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Experimental Qaspeq Construction

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Experimental Qaspeq Construction

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Experimental Qaspeq Construction 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 Qaspeq Sewing Workshop Alaska State Council on the Arts Partnership Story by: Amber Webb During a series of qaspeq-making workshops, I came to a deeper understanding of the ways our cultural garments encourage connection. For thousands of years, the intimate act of making garments to fit the bodies of our loved-ones as a means of protection was also a way we told the world who we are. The act of self-identification through pattern work is a powerful one. During this project, I began noticing the small details that distinguish qaspeq artists and realized that qaspeq construction is as unique as the fingerprints of each person who makes them. Some of us have family patterns, but those of us that lost those can create them for the next generations in our families. The qaspeq is a functional symbol of adaptation and resiliency. Encouraging more people to learn the art of garment construction is a valuable way to assert indigenous identity and worldview. It is a way of knowing who we are. A friend of mine recently told me that indigenous people gain power when they dress like their ancestors did. We make qaspeqs honoring the spirit and ingenuity of the people who came before us.
By |December 20th, 2019|ARTShops, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Experimental Qaspeq Construction
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    A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Iñupiaq Kammak Making Workshop

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Iñupiaq Kammak Making Workshop

Project: ARTShops 2019 Iñupiaq Kammak Making WorkshopAlaska State Council on the Arts PartnershipStory by: Marjorie Kunaq TahboneThe 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. Kammak for EVERYONE! is a project that brings seamstresses together to learn the fading practice of making traditional boots called kammak. The goal is to bring back the skills necessary to make kammak so that everyone has the capacity to make their own and for others. As a traditional Iñupiaq dancer I try to make my own regalia but I had a hard time making my own kammak because of the specific skills required to crimp the ugruk soles. With this course we flew in expert seamstress Mary Lou Sours to teach us from start to finish how to make patterns, crimp ugruk, and sew the kammak together. It was a 7-day intensive course that happened in June, and you better believe we used every bit of the 24 hour sunlight to complete our kammak in time.Through the course there were many trial and errors, frustrated students, and sore hands. But our instructor put all her support in us and guided our efforts toward success. It is a very advanced skill to be able to crimp hard bottom soles from ugruk, and the students were learning with little to no knowledge of the material. But throughout this difficult and taxing process we grew together as women and were able to help and support each other.My goal from this class is to teach others how to make their own kammak. I have already two classes scheduled to teach in Unalakleet and Nome in Spring 2020. I know that one day soon EVERYONE will have a pair of their very own kammak
By |December 16th, 2019|ARTShops, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2019 Iñupiaq Kammak Making Workshop

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

Education Project Grant- Color of Justice 2019

Project: Color of Justice 2019 Grantee: Alaska Native Justice Center Story by: Sara Martinchick, CIRI Descendant The Color of Justice program was a great opportunity to learn about the justice field. I got the opportunity to learn about laws and statutes in the state of […]
By |December 16th, 2019|Education, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on Education Project Grant- Color of Justice 2019

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
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    A Journey to What Matters- Hoonah City Schools Dancing with Our Ancestors Project

A Journey to What Matters- Hoonah City Schools Dancing with Our Ancestors Project

Project: Hoonah City Schools Dancing with our Ancestors Grantee: Hoonah City Schools Story and photos from: Heather Powell During the Dancing with our Ancestors project students were blessed with the opportunity to connect with their culture in ways that included several different art forms, like […]
By |November 12th, 2019|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Hoonah City Schools Dancing with Our Ancestors Project
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    Heritage Project Grant- Connecting The RIVR with Alaska Native Youth

Heritage Project Grant- Connecting The RIVR with Alaska Native Youth

Connecting The RIVR (Rising Indigenous Voices Radio) with Alaska Native Youth By Angela Jenkins It is so important we keep doing what we are doing, producing The RIVR (Rising Indigenous Voices Radio) at therivr.net for the next generation. A capacity-building and audience development grant from The CIRI Foundation supported our work to get the stream and its outreach on a stronger footing. Our stream has come along in a time where this generation of artists are really expressing themselves and talking about their roots, trauma, culture, reviving old songs and making them modern. Our listeners hear that and they can relate. Growing up I know I did not have a media source that felt like it spoke directly to me. Working with Alaska Native Native youth is rewarding to me and participating at events like the CIRI C3 camp is particularly inspiring. It gives The RIVR one-on-one time to really reach the youth involved and talk about culture and expression. We always play a game that incorporates The RIVR streaming app like musical chairs, hot potato, and an exercise where the youth participants pick a traditional value out of a hat and have to rap, sing or write a poem about that value. Stream online at therivr.net Download The RIVR App
By |October 10th, 2019|Featured Posts, Heritage, Project Grant|Comments Off on Heritage Project Grant- Connecting The RIVR with Alaska Native Youth

A Journey to What Matters- Exploring Native Textile History

Exploring Native Textile History From Steve Henrikson, Alaska State Musem Curator The Alaska State Museum is preparing a large exhibit exploring the history of textiles developed over the past two centuries by Alaska Natives and First Nations of the Northwest Coast–primarily Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian weavers. Six weavers, most representing these tribes, were selected to serve as project advisors, and in April 2019, met in Juneau to discuss the scope of the exhibition. Janice Criswell (Haida), Lily Hope (Tlingit), Lani Hotch (Tlingit), Evelyn Vanderhoop (Haida), Marie Oldfield (Tsimshian), along with Kay Parker and Steve Henrikson (ASM Curator) held two days of fruitful discussions concerning the topics to be covered in the exhibit (opening May 2020) display, and a look at the “ravenstail” and “naaxein” (aka “Chilkat”) weavings in the museum collection. Since this was a rare opportunity for weavers to discuss the history and importance of their art, the proceedings were taped and transcribed to preserve the information for future generations of weavers. stories from project advisors I am one of a group of weavers who are acting as curators for the upcoming Chilkat and Ravenstail Weaving Exhibit that is planned for 2020 at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau. I am a weaver of both Chilkat and Ravenstail and I am a direct descendant of three generations of weavers, I am the fourth generation, and I am presently teaching my daughter who would make a 5th generation of weavers in my family. Story from Lani Hotch I'm a Ravenstail Weaver Story from Kay Field Parker I first saw Ravenstail Weaving while taking a two week basketry class from Delores Churchill at the University of Alaska in Juneau. I was struggling along with my basket and noticed the class across the hall was doing a kind of finger twining that I had never seen before. As the weeks progressed, their weavings became more beautiful, and my basket, well, it was coming along. By the end of the class, I was in love with the patterns the weavers “across the hall” had woven and anxious for a class. It took two years before I could take a Ravenstail class and during that time, “The Raven’s Tail” by Cheryl Samuel was my bedside book. When my chance to learn Ravenstail weaving finally came, I hit the ground running- weaving every educational project I could find and every pattern that I could graph. I was then able to participate in the weaving of the “Hands Across Time” robe at the Alaska State Museum. And so began my weaving story. Ravenstail weaving has been my passion, pastime and entertainment for the past 29 years. I am very excited about the upcoming Northwest Coast Weaving Exhibit in Juneau which will highlight the amazing art forms known as Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving. Co-Curating Unique Vision Story from Evelyn Vanderhoop The genre of Northwest coast textiles has been underrepresented in museum exhibitions as well as in manuscript. I feel a comprehensive exhibit of ancient robes as well as contemporary textiles together with clan stories, research and technique demonstrations can give a fuller understanding of this art that was and still is very important to the cultural practices of the three major groups in Southeast Alaska; Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian.As the Haida representative within the co-curator team, I bring my research, weaving and teaching to this exhibit and with the other curators we will be able to make distinctions that are unique to our perspective groups. Though this manner of curating I feel this future exhibit will be uniquely informative to weavers, future weavers and the interested public.
By |September 11th, 2019|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Exploring Native Textile History

TCF Scholarship Recipient- Lauren Sanford

My Journey to Becoming a Speech Pathologist Story and Photo from: Lauren Sanford​ My name is Lauren Sanford and I was born and raised in Washington State. My mom was born and raised in Fairbanks, and has taught me to love and appreciate my Alaska Native heritage through educating me about my great grandmother, a strong Iñupiaq woman who served Alaska during World War II and ran her own dog team. Hearing stories like her’s inspired me to pursue a career where I will be able to serve and make a difference in others’ lives as a speech pathologist. The CIRI Foundation has been a large contributor to my journey to becoming a speech pathologist. I attended Baylor University in Texas for four years of undergraduate studies in the speech pathology department, and it would not have been possible without the generous funding from TCF, all four years. Currently, I am pursuing my Master’s in speech language pathology at Washington State University and earned an Annual Achievement Scholarship from The CIRI Foundation. This generous scholarship covered a large portion of my graduate tuition, allowing for minimal debt post grad, and the ability to pursue a career I love with much less stress. In the future, I plan to use my degree to serve rural areas of the Alaska Native community, where speech pathologists are greatly needed. I am so thankful to be a part of an Alaska Native community that supports continuing education and provides scholarships that make a huge difference in many students’ lives like myself!
By |August 27th, 2019|Featured Posts, TCF Recipient|Comments Off on TCF Scholarship Recipient- Lauren Sanford