In October of 2012 Chugachmiut launched the Heritage Mini Grant program to help communities fund activities in Alaska Native arts and culture. Most recipients are wrapping up or have completed their first year’s activities.
The focus of the program was to encourage the exploration of the region’s culture and art with a focus on community involvement.
In Seward, the Qutekcak Native Tribe hosted its Alaska Native Arts Training Program, featuring Native artists instructing participants in cedar, soapstone, and ivory carving. Students also made beaded jewelry, rawhide rattles, medicine bags, dream catchers, walking sticks and bear claw necklaces.
In addition, participants received instruction and tips for starting their own arts and crafts business and how to apply for the
Silver Hand designation for Alaska artists. The Silver Hand program helps Native artists promote their work and identifies authentic Alaska Native art for consumers. The program was administered by Maggie Simmons and Mariah Johnson.
Three artists held workshops open to community students and adults for Tatitlek’s Artists-in-Residency project.
Brian Randazzo conducted a week- long carving workshop using cedar and ivory. Russian Orthodox crosses were the most common project chosen by attendees. Brian is from Tatitlek and shared his knowledge in traditional regional artifacts and carving methods with the class as well as at a community potluck.
As requested by the community, Jim Kaiser taught a one-week course in stained glass art. Participants created work with cultural and regional motifs. A larger group collaborated on a stained glass depiction of the local St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. Again, a potluck was held to celebrate and display the art work.
Aleut artist Andrew Abyo conducted the third workshop in masking and carving. He shared his knowledge of the history and meanings behind the masks and their relationships with cultural practices. He also shared his knowledge and the class work at a community potluck.
The Nanwalek program featured the design and creation of new dance dresses and head dresses for the Nanwalek Seal Dancers. Alexandra Hetrick did most of the cutting and sewing for female dance dresses while community youth helped decorate.
The program also created dance head dresses with help from Elder Pauline Demas. Five female head dresses and 25 male head dresses were completed. Emilie Swenning was in charge of the project.
Port Graham decided to revitalize their community group, the Paluwik Alutiiq Dancers, through the herit age program. They established the group with community youth aged 5-17. Adults sometimes attended practices to enjoy the music and tell stories behind the song meanings.
To outfit the dancers, adults with crafting skills volunteered to create regalia and teach the kids skin sewing and beading.
The Paluwik Alutiiq Dancers debuted at the school’s an- nual Christmas program and had its second performance at the Pratt Museum’s “Gathering of Native Traditions” celebration in Homer, August 30-31.
The Heritage Mini Grant Program was established by the Chugachmiut Board of Directors and will be funded for a second year starting in October.