November 19, 2013

Recognizing the Alaska Territorial Guard 1942-1947



During World War II, while Alaska was still a federal territory, thousands of Alaskan residents volunteered to patrol and protect the nation under the moniker of the Alaska Territorial Guard. This army reserve unit consisted of Native and non-Native men, women, and children from throughout the region who came together after the Japanese bombings in Hawaii and the Aleutians. I believe I have a 5th cousin who served in the Guard. The map below depicts the geographic distribution of service members. 

File:Alaska Territorial Guard map.jpg
The Guard worked various duties, including protecting villages and towns, safe guarding strategic air and water ways. Using weaponry from World War 1, they placed themselves in harms way for the well being and safety of the nation without pay.
"Hill and Eskimo machine gunner - St. Paul, June 1943." Collection Name Evan Hill Photograph Collection. ASL-P343-411 
One will notice in the image above depicts a young man sitting behind the gun without identifying him by name. This anonymity among the Guard's service members has been widespread due to poor record keeping, but in 2000 those who served became eligible for veterans benefits and a movement to document and honor them was a foot. Here is a link to the government site with lists of the people who served on the Guard and are eligible for federal acknowledgement and veterans benefits. http://atg.alaska.gov/


The video above captures a 2008 event recognizing the Alaska Territorial Guard in Anchorage.


This is a touching video about the elders, and/or their survivors, at Point Hope, Alaska being honored for their service.

Here is a 2012 article about a park in Bethel Alaska being dedicated to these incredible people:
The link below depicts Alaska Senator Murkowski fighting for Alaska Territorial Guard retirement pay in 2009: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psXpu5nZfGI


November 5, 2013

Alaska Native Labor in the Creation of the Aleyska Pipeline

Native "Sarah Jensen, Pipeline oiler; Kathy Carlson, Pipeline oiler and operator." "Sarah Jensen and Kathy Carlson relax on Pipeline equipment at a site near Sheep Creek." Pipeline Impact Photograph Collection, 1974-1977. ASL-P17-8028
In 1968 oil company researchers located vast oil resources in Alaska's North Slope region. Founded in 1970, the Alyeska Pipeline Service company designed and built a pipeline extending southward from northern Alaska to Valdez in the south central region. The company employed over 60,000 people in the course of three years in order to build what was the largest construction project in national history. The Alaska Federation of Natives and the Alyeska company worked on a plan to to hire 3,000 Native people, a plan that was encouraged by the Secratary of the Interior at the time. The company hired almost twice as many Natives in the duration of the project.

"Pipeline approaching Pump Station Number 4 near Galbraith Lake on the north slopes of the Brooks Range." 1976? McCutcheon Collection Identifier AMRC-b90-14-3-351
Consequently, ten percent of the Alaska Native population directly contributed to the building of the 800 mile long project. While the majority of those employed on the pipeline came from the interior region of the state, studies show that Natives from all areas were involved at various levels. Most often workers held a succession of jobs, strung together over time. According to one study, 5,770 Native workers held 15, 047 jobs.

Native "Pamela Lekanof, Trans-Alaska Pipeline employee." "Pamela F. Lekanof was working out of the Asbestos Workers Local # 97 hall, Anchorage, Alaska. Her employer was a subcontractor, Brand Insulation. She worked out of the Asbestos Workers hall for over three years, first as a trainee and later an apprentice. Information courtesy of Pamela F. (Lekanof) Horine." Trans-Alaska Pipeline Construction Collection, 1976-1977. ASL-P2-6-16
Around 30 percent of Natives seeking work enrolled in government funded programs as well as took advantage of on-the-job training the company provided to workers. One report I'm reading asserts that over fifty percent of these jobs were no longer than eight-weeks in duration. In fact, a quarter of all Native employees worked for two weeks or less. Over 46 percent of job termination consisted of "involuntary discharge." However, company counselors suggested that the reason Natives discontinued working these jobs was due to the social environment. Many Native workers felt isolated and felt varying degrees of prejudice against them from other workers. Males represented 57 percent of the Native workforce and the statistics show that "men were more likely to quit" their jobs earlier than women. Around 7 percent of all pipeline workers were women. The statistics show the majority of jobs held by women more generally were "bullcooks," "typists," and "laborers" and men were more likely trained as "craft-affiliated workers." Within this gendered-workforce  I haven't located the number surrounding "involuntary discharge" by gender. Regardless of position, I would think being employed on this project involved grueling work. Below is a picture a young man wearing a flipped-up welder's mask on the shuttle to or from the jobsite.

Native "Peter Angaiak, Trans-Alaska Pipeline employee." Trans-Alaska Pipeline Construction Collection, 1976-1977. ASL-P2-6-17 
Across the board, pay range averaged 1,000-1,500 dollars a week, but for Natives who supplied the labor for positions with short training periods their average income was about 800 dollars a week. I haven't been able, just yet, to find pay differentials between Native women and men.

"Welder's helper employed by Trans-Alaska Pipeline." "Native girl in big sunglasses and hat, employed as welder's helper south of Chandalar." Pipeline Impact Photograph Collection, 1974-1977. ASL-P17-8032. 
While one researcher suggests seasonal subsistence practices being a main possible reason for Native workers to leave their jobs at the pipeline, another reason could be the loss of Native workers to other industries, aligned with subsistence practices. In the 1970s the Alaskan fishing industry was booming and perhaps many of these workers quit as to return to work on boats or in canneries located within their hometowns? Less than ten percent of Native employees were "discharged with cause" and the majority left on amicable conditions.
Native "Sarah Jensen, Native oiler, age 21, working on Pipeline." "Sarah Jensen sits on construction equipment in her work clothes above a sign that reads Keep Away." Pipeline Impact Photograph Collection, 1974-1977. AASL-P17-8030 





October 26, 2013

The Reindeer Industry and Transcontinental Arctic Indigenous Social Connection


This is a NASA enhanced satellite map of the world that centers the North Pole. If one looks toward the top of the map they can see the regions of Alaska and Siberia. Towards the map's bottom are the tips of the European Nordic countries. Following the last post that briefly described the origins of the reindeer economy with Native Alaska this post illuminates the unique shared history between Native Alaska and the Saami, Sami or Sámi, an Indigenous people from northern Europe. They have also been called "Laplanders," which refers to the Native cultural geography they inhabit transnationally through Europe.

Three Sámi (Lapp) women, one smoking a pipe, wearing their traditional caps
The picture below contains a Saami family in 1896 near Nordland, in Europe. The grownups to the left "are Ingrid (born Sarri) and her husband Nils Andersen Inga. In front of the parents are Berit and Ole Nilsen. The lady on the right is Ellen, sister of Ingrid. In front of Ellen are the children Inger Anna and Tomas. The children of Inger Anna are reindeer herders still today."

Detroit Publishing Co. Print no. 7123
The photograph below depicts the first Saami family in Alaska taken three years later in 1889.

 "First Lap[p] family from Tromso, Norway, [in] Teller, Alaska, 1898."  "Lapp family on steps of cabin, Teller, Alaska." Photographer: Miles Brothers. AMRC. Eide Collection Identifier AMRC-b70-28-13
In 1894, Sheldon Jackson began employing and importing Saami with aspirations they would help Alaska Natives take to the livelihood. Alaska Natives referred to them as the "Card people" because Saami hats and shoes resembled, to the Natives, the depictions on the face of playing cards. Government functionaries grew critical of the reindeer operation when by the early twentieth century Saami herdsmen owned the majority of Alaska reindeer. An Indigenous people, the Saami faced European colonization and the establishment of national borders through out their traditional lands.

 "Sami family." "Group photograph of a Sami (Lapp) woman, two boys, and a baby in front of a wooden structure in Nome, Alaska." "Nome - Alaska." ca. 1901-1902." Grace Carr Raymenton photographs, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.Grace Carr Raymenton photographs, circa 1899-1902. UAA-HMC-1059  Identifier UAA-hmc-1059-20
Since Saami culture revolves around reindeer it makes perfect sense that these people would take a leading role in the management of this economy, though Americans had poised this as an operation for Alaska Native vocational training. Alaska Natives and Saami then worked side by side, making connections still with Native Alaska today.

"Laplanders milking reindeer at Port Clarence, Alaska, 1900." "Shows a man and a woman in traditional dress."Photographer Hegg, Eric A. Date1900. Eric A. Hegg Photographs Order Number HEG544. U of Washington Special Collections. 
The migration of Saami workers into Alaska may have been influenced by political developments in northern Europe at the time. Norway in 1905 declared independence from Sweden as a nation-state. Borders between the two countries tightened and thus restricting transnational Saami movements. Traveling their cultural geography when herding also faced impairments with areas controlled by Russia.

 "The genuine Lapps, Nome, Alaska." "A Lapp, or Sami, couple stand outside their cabin, while a child looks out the door, Nome, Alaska." Photographer: O. D. Goetze.  (Otto Daniel)
AMRC. O.D. Goetze Collection, Identifier AMRC-b01-41-72
With the United States government concerned that the Saami owned and operated the majority of reindeer herds in the Alaska region they made a policy change. The government discontinued hiring Saami workers because the reindeer program's intent was to train Alaska Natives for the occupation. That is not to say the Saami left Alaska, or that they discontinued immigrating into the region or other parts of the nation. Because they faced oppression from European nations, when the arrived in the United States many chose to identify as Finnish, Norwegian or Dutch, as to escape persecution.

People are often surprised when they meet Alaska Natives with Nordic last names, but if ones spend anytime in the region, or knows people from Native Alaska, then they would be too aware of the splendid array of surnames we have that are derived from Saami geographic areas. Some of these last names may have been assumed when Saami made their homes in Alaska Native villages, marrying into Indigenous families. Though my archival work in this area proves limited, I will admit that I find the lack of photographs containing Saami with Alaska Natives unusual yet unsurprising since both were subject peoples.


Here is a link showing  two major reindeer routes through Alaska.
http://www.baiki.org/content/alaskachron/map.htm
BBC Article about contemporary Saami in Russia
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6171701.stm
Excellent resource: http://www.baiki.org/content/alaskachron/pre1890.htm

October 17, 2013

The Reindeer Industry and Native Alaska


According to Dean Olson in the report "Alaska Reindeer Herdsmen: A Study of Native Management in Transition," that he authored in 1969, the idea for implanting reindeer into the Alaskan ecology came to Dr. Sheldon Jackson while he and Capt. M.A. Healy set out on a cruise through the Arctic in 1890. Seeing Siberian Native economies built around reindeer the two began hatching a plan to import the animal across the Strait. Hoping to employ Natives as reindeer herders Jackson asked the federal government for the 2000 dollars.

"Sheldon Jackson, D.D., LL.D., Vice President Alaska Geographic Society, May 15, 1899."
Identifier ASL Jackson-Sheldon 1

Capt. M.A. Healy, U.S.R.M., Commanding U.S. Revenue Cutter "Bear."
Collection. ASL. Identifier ASL-Healy-MA-1 ASL-P01-3278  
The government was unwilling to provide the funds so Jackson collected donations with which he shipped 16 deer from Siberia to the Aleutians. At that point, the reindeer industry began without haste. Jackson appealed to the federal government for funding and by 1892 four Indigenous Siberians came with a shipment of 171 of reindeer to Port Clarence Alaska, where a reindeer station was built as well as herding instructional facilities. Olson reports Native resistance to the development in Wales, Alaska. Sounds like the reindeer station became a site of immense tension, resulting with the death of one worker. Two years after their arrival the Siberian Natives returned home. By the end of the century hundreds of reindeer lived in Alaska. Transportation routes for herds stretched throughout the Alaska mainland. According to Carrie Bucki Manager of Reindeer Research Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks, many people preferred hitching reindeer to sleds over dogs because reindeer ate grass and therefore less expensive to keep as work-animals.

"A reindeer harnessed up for pulling a sled.
Reindeer called Qimukti in Iñupiaq were commonly used for pulling sleds."
Point Barrow, Alaska, 1899-1908. ASL-PCA-320 IdentifierASL-P320-28
Alaska Native herders worked throughout the mainland into the 20th century. Here are some photographs I found of Native folks herding. Take note the first image taken in Golovin, Alaska looks to be taken during one of the less snowy seasons. The image beneath that one Theresa Creek, Alaska appears to have captured the wintertime corralling of reindeer. The next post will explore some of the social implications the reindeer industry brought Native life.

"Herders driving reindeer to corral. Golovin, Alaska." "View of reindeer herders driving reindeer to Lomen Reindeer Corporation reindeer processing plant corral at Golovin,Alaska. July 1938." Photographer: Ray B. Dame. Original photograph size: 8 1/8" x 10". Identifier AMRC-b75-175-211

 "Theresa Creek Reindeer Corral, 3/1942." "Deer passing from outer to inner holding pocket. Photographer's number 803. CreatorDale, George Allan, 1900- Contributors Butler, Evelyn I. Evelyn Butler and George Dale. Photographs, 1934-1982. ASL-PCA-306 IdentifierASL-P306-0717


"Reindeer herding in Southwest, Alaska 1930's" Collection NameEugene L. Snow Collection Alaska Film Archives, University of Alaska, Fairbanks IdentifierAAF-51

Resource for those with more interest in the history can find a wonderful primer written by Carrie Bucki Manager of Reindeer Research Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks here: http://www.uaf.edu/files/snras/MP_04_07.pdf

October 6, 2013

Asserting a Racial Geography in Northern Alaska, 1901-1906: "The ability to imitate with masked fidelity."

In October 1901, Susan R. Bernardi went to Kingegan, a village located in Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, to work as an instructor at a religiously-based government-funded school. Kingegan's closest major town is Nome, a former-village where the population more than tripled from 1890-1900 because of the gold rush. After holding similar positions in the southern United States, her job involved teaching the Natives of Kingegan a general curriculum. As the most western inhabited place in the Americas the village surely proved most distinct from any of her previous experiences. Writings and photographs from her personal collection helps understand the way in which people from the United States would came to think about Alaska and Arctic people more broadly. With an album containing 105 photographs held at the University of Washington special collections one can peruse captivating images taken during her time there. For instance the photograph below depicts Bernardi in a classroom of Inupiat students, seated at desks, reading their text books. She peers intently at the students, with the United States flag hanging above her head. Take notice of the globe next to her. On the chalkboard one can make out a date "May Tenth" and some basic arithmetic. In the written passages of the collection Bernardi refers to the Inupiat villagers as "Eskimo," a term, to say the least, that makes for a host of complications in it's usage and proves entailed with countless derogatory meanings and unintended significations. Bernardi was not alone in employing the term to describe the vast cultures of people who inhabit a large portion of the Northern world. In fact, the written parts of the album along with the images provide for the reader and viewer an archive on how Westerners thought of Arctic people as they set upon their communities with various agendas.

"Susan R. Bernardi teaching Eskimo pupils at U.S. Government School, Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, ca. 1906"
The image above belongs to a genre of photographic work, that when taken, attempted to depict how indigenous students could be taught a curriculum of knowledge and basic skills that would shape them into competent modern individuals, however unequal to their Western benefactors. Today we can see how these photographs document a rather unsettling history of colonial education that was taking place throughout the continent at the time. For the people of the Kingegan village lived competently long before the arrival of the school. There are many great works documenting the experiences indigenous children, and their families, endured at Indian boarding schools throughout the United States and Canada. The Bernardi collection proves compelling because it documents how a newcomer, one who was to bestow civilization upon the locals, came to situate this region's people within her beliefs about the broader world.  

"A lesson in geography. To Quont'nuk and Menadéluk"
PH Coll 49.87b
The photograph above "A lesson in geography" spells out an unfortunately familiar and still quite moving scene where the instructor appears to be lightly scolding her wards, Quont'nuk and Menadéluk. What is to be made of this disciplinary scene, staged for a camera, in the midst of a geography lesson? Is the message here that the instructor will work tirelessly to teach the students where they sit in the global order of civilization? From my own memories growing up in Kodiak, I can clearly parcel out the moments in social studies class when, as a young person, I was being taught to fill out a map of the contiguous part of the nation. In all my teachers' efforts, their lessons to educate me on the locations of many Lower-48 states proved a hapless endeavor. What did this geography lesson mean for the instructor and how did it translate to the students and their families at Kingegan? Below is a photograph of more students, I believe in the bottom row are "Kuzrina, Natongok, Anouruk, Keotkona."

Notes Handwritten in album: Kuzrina, Natongok, Anouruk, Keotkona ca. 1906
PH Coll 49.96
Along with photographs of life among the Native residents Bernardi lent her hand to locating the people of the village in relation to the indigenous people of the contiguous part of the nation, as well as to the people of the Japanese nation. Please note Japan is approximately 2,500 miles away from Kingegan (the distance between Barcelona and Moscow proves closer than these two places are). "Eskimos are not Indians," she clarified for the viewers of the collection, "but Mongoloids." Not part of the Bernardi collection, below is an uncanny map of the western racial imaginary that constructed the "mongoloid" as a type.


Since people of the village failed to embody comparable traits with "Indians," they somehow had to fit into the larger racial imaginary. For as the passage ensued she wrote of the villagers' traits in relation to the Japanese, saying that "both have all inherent reverence for their ancestors, the Japanese possessing the characteristic a degree stronger than the Eskimos." The blanketing statement about both groups comes to illustrate the idea that there was a global hierarchy of civilizations (European at the top, indigenous at that bottom) that many people of the time invested their energies in proving as true and maintaining it as a truth for their benefit. In the ranking of civilizations the villagers, for Bernardi, sat beneath the way she imagined the Japanese. As noted by Coleen Lye in America's Asia, around the turn of the century the United States, eager to hold on to Pacific Rim colonies, began viewing Japan with suspicion (17-24). Perhaps because of these growing notions about the Japanese in the United States she felt it important to mark them as similar but distinct, even though they really aren't sharing a close proximity.  

Further in the collection, Bernardi's comparison continued, "the Japanese serve fish raw," and she noticed that "the Eskimo eats his raw but nature most often serves it to him frozen. Jade is used extensively by both Eskimos and Japanese. Both have the ability to imitate with masked fidelity." Also, one can notice the ascription of Inupiat as "He" while the Japanese are left without being assigned a gender. The description moves from comparing the foodways of distant peoples as to align them under a cryptic assertion that they both possess the "ability to imitate with masked fidelity." The Japanese and the villagers, in her view were capable of emulating western cultural practices. (Most likely she isn't meaning to say that they can perform celebrity impersonations.) 

Handwritten in album: "Telling whale stories."
PH Coll 49.35
In comparing her upbringing to the villagers she wrote, "We are prone to say "bread is the staff of life." "The Eskimo," she argued, "would change it to "oil is the staff of life." She viewed the that for the villagers were dependent on oil, a claim which later could be applied to others in the region when the Trans-Alaska pipeline was constructed in Alaska.

In the their use of oils she wrote:
"the oil of the hair seal the walrus and whale provides for most of the wants of the Eskimo. He uses it to warm his house and dry his boots, to cook his seal meat and if there is no meat to cook he can use the oil for food. In olden times cariboo were plentiful. The meat was dried and the skins used for bedding and clothes. Heated deer suet rendered is eaten with snow and blue-berries it looks like whipped cream and is called koni mi nook. "When a person dies a feast is prepared and all friends and relatives come to the home and eat so that the dead one may not be hungry. If two persons fall ill at the same time in the same house one of them must be immediately moved, for should one die his spirit would call to the spirit of the other and he would have to go." Again, one can see how the description of the villagers moves from foodways to interpersonal relations.

Five young women identified as left to right: Kuzrere or Grace (Mrs. Percy Blatchford of Nome), Koot egweena, Angnohok, Oo me eeuk, Ang arolok or Bessie (Mrs. Henry Miller of Teller) UAF-1959-875-33

Further in the description she wrote that the villagers "never cheat each other but think it a virtue to cheat a white man." This horrid generalization meant that Native people act unethically towards outsiders, justifying the need to educate the children so they'll act morally and respect non-Inupiat people in all dealings. The problem I have with this statement is that she's talking about the parents whom are trusting her with their children in her classroom. The collection presents many photographs of young people, adorned in "western" (her words) clothes, posing for the camera. For almost a century the people of this region lived through multiple forms of abuse as they were made to attend these schools. A quick google search will give a list of accounts on the topic. There is also plenty of scholarship out there that asks readers to consider the viewpoints and histories of people whom these types of photographs were taken of as to better understand the agency and resolve they acted with in such harrowing times.

Nora and Angnolok. Collection. S.R. Bernardi Photographs. UAF-1959-875-34
In the conclusion of the passage she wrote, "Good bye in Eskimo means "I am sorry to see you go." If you are calling at an Eskimo home you should not leave," she continued, "until your hostess tells you you may go." In the last sentence of her description she attests that, "if a man and his wife go to another village to trade and stay a few days it is a courtesy for the men to trade wives." Ending the passage with such an observation positions her work as justified in that she was bringing what she saw as a moral order to the people. The album's photographs and narrations are a great archival source for the articulation of Western racial beliefs about subject peoples in a northern part of the Alaska Territory amid the early twentieth century. 




September 27, 2013

"Memory is Embodied:" Tanya Lukin-Linklater Interview

In Memoriam (2012) 

Alutiiq Artist Tanya Lukin Linklater originates from the Native Villages of Port Lions and Afognak in the Kodiak archipelago. Based in northern Ontario, her practice spans experimental choreography, performance, installation, text, and video. She has performed and exhibited at Images Festival/Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto), VI Mostra Internacional de Videodanca Sao Carlos (Brasil), Museum of Contemporary Native Art (Santa Fe), Culver Center of the Arts (California), Expanse Movement Arts Festival (Edmonton), Alaska Native Arts Foundation Gallery (Anchorage), Near North Mobile Media Lab + White Water Gallery (Ontario), TRIBE (Saskatoon), Sakewewak (Regina), and elsewhere. She studied at University of Alberta (M.Ed. 2003) and Stanford University (A.B. Honours 1998), where she received the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship & Louis Sudler Prize in Creative and Performing Arts. Tanya was awarded the Chalmers Professional Development Grant in 2010. She was nominated for the K.M. Hunter Artist Award in Dance in 2011 and received the K.M. Hunter Artist Award in Literature in 2013. She has collaborated with Duane Linklater on two projects: grain(s) in 2013 and Up River (2012). Her work has been generously supported by Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. You can view more about her amazing work at her website: http://tanyalukinlinklater.com/


Q: How does being an Alaska Native contribute to the production of your artwork?

I originate from two small Native villages in the Kodiak archipelago of southwestern Alaska: Native Village of Afognak and Native Village of Port Lions. I currently reside in northern Ontario, Canada, with my family.

Initially, my performances (2005 - 2011) were generally more concerned with intimacy than spectacle in terms of subject matter (the experiences of women’s work, domestic spaces, and memory), and often centered on my research and investigation of traditional forms of Alaska Native song, dance, and language through a contemporary practice that posed questions surrounding the complexities of cultural revitalization. For example, I’ve directed contemporary dancers in movement investigations that deconstructed the principles of traditional dances in order to construct new dances. I’ve also performed works that engage with Alutiiq language and song and become an embodied investigation of the language, deconstructed, from my perspective as a non-speaker.


Site Sight (2011)
In recent years, my practice, rooted in performance and the body, has expanded to include video, photography, and installation. I am integrating my writing practice into these works, exhibiting text pieces alongside video installations and in other forms. I consider my practice experimental, process-oriented, and research driven. The questions leading my practice currently centre on images of the "Eskimo,” women’s stories, how (personal) memory is embodied and activated in the present moment, and all of these in relation to being-ness.

I keep returning to the relationship between indigenous peoples and museums and/or anthropology. Alutiiq artists from Kodiak Island have engaged with museums and anthropological collections for many years. The late Helen Simeonoff, my relative from Afognak, initiated Alutiiq engagement with specific collections and others like Doug Inga have traveled to museums to view Alutiiq masks, bentwood hats, baskets and other “artifacts” held in collections in France, Russia, and elsewhere. They describe the experience as transformative; while they hold these artifacts in their gloved hands (under the direction of museum staff) they experience strong emotional responses, often brought to tears.

Maggie Roberts Portrait by Helen Simeonoff
from Kodiak Alutiiq Dancers FB page
In this context, I consider my father, Ivan Lukin, who carves masks, bentwood visors, kayaks and other objects, by referencing anthropological texts. Otherwise he is self-taught. He described to me once the emotional response he had to different visual images, and that he knew which objects to carve based on his intuitive assessment of the image’s meaning (as we no longer know the meanings of the objects).

I deeply respect the art practices of those I mention above, as well as Coral Chernoff, Susie Malutin, Lena Amason-Berns, and others, as they are connected to our home and are engaged with cultural work. The work is often labor intensive (tanning fish skin, harvesting grasses, harvesting animals and tanning hides for furs, using sinew and other traditional materials rather than contemporary materials) and I feel strongly that the process is just as significant as the resulting object. This process hopefully (among other aims) embeds an Alutiiq worldview into the object.

Yet, I’m also compelled by artists that address and perhaps interrogate the relationship between tribes and museums and/or anthropology. James Luna’s Artifact Piece, 1985-87, is of course a very significant work in this regard. There is more work to be done in this area.


Q: Who most influences you as an artist?

I will, without hesitation say my husband, Duane Linklater. He is Omaskeko Cree from Moose Cree First Nation. We have the opportunity to dialogue about art, text, films, museum culture, indigenous languages, theory, indigenous and art and film histories on a daily basis. I see his process for each project; I understand his influences; we have collaborated on two projects (Up River, 2012 at a small indigenous collective in Saskatchewan and grain(s), 2013 for Images Festival + Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art); he’s been my camera operator on two projects (In Memoriam, 2012 and Untitled, 2013). Our collaborations are not always successful - we are still developing a process for working together. He understands and pushes my work like no one else.

Duane Linklater. For more information on his work please visit his artist page here.
Do you think that Indigenous art be produced in a formalist way without referencing Native history and culture?

I think that part of our role as indigenous artists may be to engage with indigenous concepts and conceptual frameworks. We are, also, often engaging with multiple frameworks and with European and American art histories. What sets us apart is our respective (tribal) conceptual frameworks, which may necessitate a reflection on our respective histories. Elizabeth Cook Lynn put forth the idea that all indigenous literatures should be, in some way, strengthening tribal sovereignty. I think that her assertion is specific and could be broadened to include the strengthening of indigenous languages, worldview, histories, etc. through our respective practices (in a non-prescriptive way).


 Tanya Lukin-Linklater: 2013 Literature Award Winner

When I consider my practice and other artists I look to, I’m often compelled by work that references histories. I’ve engaged with specific histories of my people from a contemporary perspective. I’ve also engaged with film histories, re-enacting scenes from films (The 400 Blows, Mouchette, Ivan’s Childhood, Nanook of the North, Woman in the Dunes) in live performance and in video works. I’m also interested in meaning making, so I feel that when we engage with history, we also make meaning of the history in our current context.

Duane Linklater often begins his artist talks with a projected image of a treaty medal. Treaty-making can trace its origins to the Royal Proclamation of 1763 by King George III, a document (some argue) that establishes indigenous rights to the land (including hunting rights) in North America. The Royal Proclamation established the British Crown as the sole entity to engage in land purchases in North America, and established the foundation for treaty-making with indigenous peoples in Canada. October 7, 2013 is the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation. I find this significant and will mark the day by attending local events commemorating the day where I live in northern Ontario.


The text, Treaty Elders of Saskatchewan, outlines foundational spiritual beliefs within treaty-making processes through a series of interviews with elders from the four First Nation groups of Saskatchewan. It frames treaty-making as a covenant between respective First Nations, the Crown, and the Creator by examining the symbols and objects involved. This is significant because it examines a culturally specific perspective of treaty-making. I get uncomfortable with descriptions that place First Nations in Canada in positions of victimhood, citing starvation and illiteracy as the reasons that treaties were “signed” with X’s. These assumptions about treaties, while in some instances may be historically accurate, also have the possibility to undermine indigenous agency in this process.

Last winter the Idle No More Movement swept Canada (and parts of the U.S.) through teach-ins and creative forms of civil disobedience against environmental legislation that was enacted. The protests included round dances in shopping malls at Christmastime, and I remember many signs that asserted “we are all treaty people” emphasizing the significance of treaties in Canada, still today. Another favorite sign of mine was “Moose hide tanners against fascism” in Northwest Territories.

I personally like the specificity of artists engaged with their particular tribe’s histories or cultural objects and connecting those histories to the present moment. However, you can see from my own work that I also am influenced by Canada and its histories as I choose to make my home here, and I have relatives here.


Eskimo Kissing Booth (2012)
Are there any current affairs or political developments that are currently influencing your art?

In late 2012 I began writing a text, “Not like us” in response to the attempted assassination of girls’ education activist, Malala Yousafzai, in the region of Swat Valley, Pakistan. I was moved to write because of her commitment to education. I considered my girlhood struggles with the complexities of race, gender and poverty in America in the 80’s. As a child, I believed in education as an equalizer, even as I witnessed deep inequities around me. “Not Like Us” and “A girl” are poems that reference the breaking international story surrounding Malala’s attempted assassination. These works are unpublished, and I am currently developing their future forms as visual works installed in galleries.


Brief Malala Yousafzai story

Last winter I followed Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike, a 44-day action that began December 11, 2012. Originating from Attawapiskat First Nation in James Bay, Ontario, Chief Spence’s hunger strike took place not far from Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Victoria Island in the Ottawa River. The hunger strike was intended to bring attention to the treaty relationship in Canada amidst federal legislation that further eroded environmental laws in favor of expanding resource extraction, without adequate consultation with First Nations. Her action was a part of a larger indigenous rights movement in Canada and her continued leadership as Chief of her First Nation.

  Interview with Chief Teresa Spence
I came to see the mitts she wore in many of her press engagements as an important symbol for the people of James Bay. I began a series of interviews with my husband’s relatives, Agnes Hunter, Marlene Kapashesit, and Lillian Mishi Trapper, during January and February 2013 regarding the process for making traditional James Bay Mitts. I interviewed these extended relatives to ask them about their experiences tanning hides (caribou, moose, deer), sewing mitts and other garments, and beading.

“The harvest studies” is a long poem that came to include direct transcriptions of the interviews and in it, I create visual designs similar to beadwork. I am now preparing for a visual arts residency in northern Ontario and will engage with this text for the residency, likely to be installed in public places.


Performance by Tanya Lukin from WKP Kennedy at the Fair of Alternative Art of Sudbury 2010

I’ve been interested in Native women making “crafts,” beading intricate designs passed on from their relatives, sewing smoked moose hide into moccasins, and fur into mukluks, mits, toques, since I was very young. This functional art is practiced in the intimacy of one’s home, but also becomes a process of crafting for the public in a kind of performance of women’s work, of cultural work. Yet “craft” is de-valued in the hierarchy of art.

In 2010 I beaded an Alutiiq headdress while seated within a small installation in a train car during galerie du nouvel – ontario’s foire d’art alternatif de sudbury. My intent was to engage with the image of the Native woman as craftsperson within a hierarchy of art. Passersby stopped and conversed.

In 2014 I will perform for NM/Santiago (New Maternalisms III) at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santiago at the invitation of curator, Natalie Loveless. I will sort thousands of beads in various colors on moose hide into specific designs.

In Memoriam (2012)
The transitory nature of the art object (beads that are not sewn or fixed) relates to the transitory nature of performance. Indeed, the performance problematizes craft and art as commodity (and anthropological relic) because performative actions will become the art object. The performative identities of “craftperson,” “artist,” and “mother” will also be named through action.

Trade beads conjure a past of ill-gotten land gains in the Americas, international trade routes, and Indigenous women’s appropriation of trade beads in indigenous designs. The performance reminds us of a historical global economy through the intimacy of women’s work.


Culver Center of the Arts | Indigenous Choreographers Residency Featuring the work and participation of choregraphers Jack Gray, Rulan Tangen, and Tanya Lukin Linklater. Jacqueline Shea Murphy, coordinator. UCR campus and to Culver April 9-22, 2012.

Thank you Tanya for allowing me to interview you and feature your work here.

September 20, 2013

Green Imperialism in the Tongass National Forest

Source: www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r10/maps-pubs/?cid=fsbdev2_038690

On August 20, 1902,  just thirty-five years after the nation purchased Alaska the homelands of the Native people on the panhandle below Canada became the Alexander Archipelago National Forest upon presidential order, which included approximately 4 million acres (vol. 32, stat. 2025). On September 1908, the project expanded to include 17 million acres altogether in the presidential pronouncement creating the Tongass National Forest. This action led to a decades long confrontation between Tlingit and Haida people with the United States. American West historians have of course covered developments surrounding this and how this legal battle led to the Tee Hit Ton v. United States case before the Supreme Court in 1955. The case involved the removal of timber from sites Natives claimed to be theirs. In response, the court proclaimed the Tlingit people held no actionable claim against the nation because the Congress had yet to recognize the Tlingit as holding possession of any right to the area. Following this ruling the nation and two regional groups finished working toward the Tlingit Haida claims settlement. With time, the broader Alaska Native population joined in and worked to settle land claims with the United States in 1971. This allowed for the drilling of crude on the region's north slope.

Felled timber at Helm Bay near Ketchikan, Tongass National Forest, Alaska, 1930. Description Title from photographic record  Scene showing an area that has been logged. United States Forest Service Photograph Collection, 1915-1976. ASL-P207-30-1 
On the ground during these sixty-nine years between 1902 and 1971 government agents, business owners, and individual actors asserted themselves upon the local Native communities in relentless ways. From just spending another couple of days in the archives rooting through the William Lewis Paul papers I am coming to terms with the high level of intensity which Tlingit and Haida people faced as functionaries usurped villages, stole their crest poles, and paid them low-wages. In 2008 the Forest Service acknowledged how in the early and mid-twentieth century their agents went through the Tongass National Forest, the Tlingit homeland, razing and removing indigenous fashioned cabins, smokehouses, and entire fish camps from the area.

"Alaska native fish camp. Crowd behind canoes pulled up on shore, tents, half-finished wood house, fish drying on racks."William R. Norton. Photographs, ca. 1890-1920. ASL-P226-427
The removal of Tlingit domestic architecture and lifeways from the National forest was acted out in the name of conservation. The work Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks by historian Mark David Spence details how the government turned Native villages in the contiguous part of the nation into national parks with such a chapter explicating the dealings with the Blackfeet and the establishment of Glacier National Park. Other works, such as Nature's State: Imagining Alaska as the Last Frontier help understand the ideologies national actors held as they assumed the Alaska region as their own to exploit or conserve. Reading the work of scholars Richard Grove in his Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600-1860, and V.M. Ravi Kumar in Green Colonialism and Forest Policies in South India, 1800-1900, has me considering how the development of national parks and forest preserves in twentieth-century Alaska reflect a green imperialist agenda and how Natives responded to such actions. Historian Ravi Kumar traces the European colonial forest policies and the role "desiccationist narratives of colonial scientists and officials, which contributed to the extending of state control over forests in South India." Desiccation are the effects of deforestation on the larger climate. He argues "the colonial state reinforced its control over forests by brandishing a discourse centered on the influence of forests on the physical climate and irrigation systems (104)." The way Kumar considers the discourse of desiccation is as a form of control over indigenous land use. This proves to be a very portable conceptual framework.

For example the 2007 National Geographic article by Douglas Chadwick, "The Truth about
Tongass: Alaska's Tongass National Forest included the greatest tracts of rain forest outside the tropics. Subsidized logging is ripping them apart." The article is an adventure piece where the author also gives a praise worthy account of the battle between the logging industry, the forest service, and conservationists. The article makes the case that the Tongass is a national treasure that should be conserved at all cost. Pieces such as these leave me wondering (in the words of Rey Chow) "where have all the Natives gone?" The lovely journey he embarks upon in the story would undoubtedly make most people think about the amazing cultures of people who have always inhabited the area. In the reading this armchair adventurer found little signs of Native culture. Perhaps for non-Natives the indigenous people, whom still live in the region, come be what the Forest Service describe as the "former caretakers" of the area instead of intricate pieces of the regional ecology. It's impossible to separate them from those waters and lands. This omission arises because Chadwick centers his healthy and true concerns for the forest as a national possession be controlled by extractive/conservationist discussions. In fact through his explication of resource extraction history and the growth a movement to conserve the forest he writes, "it seems to have become a symbol in a much larger contest of beliefs about what frontiers are for and what the truest measure of a nation's progress should be." The nation should be judged, he asserts, by how it treats the forest, the "frontier." Perhaps if the nation could consider the forest not a frontier but a homeland to cultures whom have managed the region for thousands of years without ruining the ecosystem, then perhaps this contest of beliefs would relinquish?



September 12, 2013

Alaska Native Border Studies


A few years back I was delivering one of my first professional conference papers, entitled "Domesticating the Last Frontier," when an audience member earnestly questioned, what was the last frontier? I said, "Alaska." In turn the scholar replied, "Oh, you mean Palin-ville," shaking their head and causing a slight round of laughter across the room. The scholar was of course referring to Sarah Palin, who at the time, served as the governor of Alaska. The essay I was presenting was about the construction of Alaska as a "wilderness" that the nation would over time come to "domesticate" through settlement, a process displacing Native communities. The presentation had little to do with the polarizing figure so to stay on topic I shrugged and read the essay. Years later upon recounting this antidote to the Director of the American Indian Studies program at UIUC (giving credit to where it is due) at the time, he suggested that when people ask me about the former governor I should tell them I'm not a "Palin-tologist." This one-liner proves one of my favorite jokes and could be useful for any scholar active in Alaska Native studies.


Watch at your own risk

The greater public grew all too familiar with Sarah Palin in the 2008 presidential campaign when she acted as vice-presidential running-mate in John McCain's bid for president. I was busily composing a dissertation as the events unfolded and grew as bewildered as anyone else to the campaign's eerie journey. Please forgive me, but I would like to use an interview segment of one of Palin's many and infamous moments to draw out the issue of border studies and Alaska Natives. If you are faint of heart and the clip is too much, let me explain that during an ABC television interview Sarah Palin claimed that, "You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska." This assertion made the American public uproar with criticism. Below is a photo of the governmental demarcation between Alaska and Siberia that also acts as the international dateline.

International Dateline between Siberia and America. Imaginary International dateline drawn on iceberg between Big Diomede and Little Diomede Islands. Identifier AMRC-b88-3-191

One international border adjacent to Alaska consists of a maritime division with Russia while the other to the east, trails across the continent forming a division between Alaska and Canada. This political map above displays the two demarcations. The graphic additionally leaves one unable to see how the international dateline divides the Aleutian Chain islands under both Russian and U.S. jurisdictions. In contrast, the Alaska Native language map below reveals the trans-Bering and transnational aspect of "Alaska Native" culture. Reading the map, Siberian Yupik and "Aleut" folks possess cultures that extend across the international dateline to the west. The Inupiaq and the inland indigenous cultures, as well as the southeastern groups articulate over the border to Canada.

http://www.uaf.edu/anla/collections/map/



"This unfortified boundary line between the Dominion of Canada and the United States of America should quicken the remembrance of the more than a century old friendship between these countries, a lesson of peace to all nations. Erected August 4 1957 Kiwanis International.Identifier UAF-2006-131-27
During the presidential campaign the discussion of the governor's ability to see Russia concerned her foreign policy experience. After this initial comment she continued making statements to the press about military air patrols guarding the nation's most western border, keeping the nation safe. In contrast, the plaque above makes visible an issue Alaska Natives studies shares with those who have interests in Mexican-U.S. border studies, the militaristic border between Alaska and Russia in comparison to the "unfortified" border between the state and Canada. This low-intensity conflict with Russia grew from the rise of the Cold War, after the region became fortified amid World War II. Many communities became divided as the the nation strengthened the border to Russia. In contrast to the eastern border with Canada which is less invested in such enterprise. The international dateline came into existence with the Alaska Purchase. leaving a reasonable amount of work that can be done exploring various issues involving Alaska Native border studies.

Recent developments along the Mexican-U.S. border have many members of the public questioning if the use of drones to patrol the border is good idea. I'm unsure if drones are being used along the U.S.-Russian border but the link below leads to a discussion about the use of drones in the Arctic. And this video clip discusses they can monitor the Trans-Alaska pipeline.




http://www.nbcnews.com/science/drones-handle-all-kinds-work-arctic-theres-lots-more-do-8C11012648

September 1, 2013

The Naturalization of the Great Land: "A confidence in our destiny."

Alaska Film Archives, University of Alaska, Fairbanks Elmer E. Rasmuson Papers 
Identifier AAF-8902

"What does it mean to be an Alaskan?" In 1968 Elmer Rasmunson rhetorically asked this question to an audience of children at a regional elementary school in the filming of this political advertisement. His explanation of Alaskan identity as "being born free" provides a moment for understanding how non-Native people imagined their lives in Alaska at the time. A campaign commercial, this one minute film was produced by lifelong Alaska resident Elmer Rasmuson (a banker, philanthropist, and politician) as he sought a bid for the U.S. Senate. Born in Yukatat, he spent his life tirelessly serving the Alaska community in a host of ways. He was the mayor of Anchorage during the city's reconstruction after the earthquake, a member of the board of regents at University of Alaska, and a dedicated philanthropist. Upon his passage he left his fortune to charity, establishing the Rasmunson Foundation. His good will and selfless service to community proves admirable and can be seen in his efforts here to include a brief lesson about Native people and language in regard to explaining how the word Alaska equates, in English, to meaning the "Great Land." The broader read of this film shouldn't undermine his integral devotion to the well-being of all Alaskans, past or present.

The film tells us that Alaskans "live free" and their ability to "contemplate the outdoors" help produced their exceptional character amid the 1960s. They held, the film argues, "a confidence in [their] destiny that [came] from shaping the new land." Along with the "shaping" of the "new land" Alaskans spent time "harvesting the seas for the human betterment." This service to humanity in turn lent Alaskans an "optimism" and "faith" in the future. The term the "new land" referenced the United States tacit investment in Alaska as the Last Frontier. For besides the "Great Land," Alaska was also known in this way. The Last Frontier embodied a place where the nation could "shape the land" and "harvest the sea" as it had done a hundred years earlier in where now sits the contiguous western part of the nation. The concept of the Last Frontier served as an extension of the western frontier invented in the nineteenth century during the nation's expansion across the continent to the Pacific shoreline. Building on the Last Frontier the national imagination could make a rightful operation of the continued mid-twentieth century Alaska project.

Alaska was not a new land to indigenous people of the region. For them, Alaska proved a geography of origin where the land and sea shaped their histories and cultures previous to statehood. This is apparent through Rasmunson's discussion about the word Alaska as possessing a Native root. There is an implication here that Alaska would be impossible without Native people. Undoubtedly, he grew up beside indigenous people, shared in their culture, and as a regional leader felt an obligation towards representing Native populations. Under that consideration, he should be applauded for taking what could been seen as a political risk in this acknowledgement. Native children, on the other hand, were forbidden to speak their languages in school. During the 20th century public policy forced indigenous kids to speak English and to quit learning their indigenous languages (or other languages they may have known). That is the intriguing part about the film, that children were being taught the meaning of the word Alaska yet in real life Native students faced an educational regime discouraging this type of knowledge. Schools set to normalize national belief systems and somehow reset indigenous culture to operate under a new set of rules. The long term success of this broad project is debatable but its results have been very harmful.

Truly one of the challenges in working with Native history lies in discentering these chronotopic notions of the frontier, or the "new land," that guide and police scholarship. Histories to regions like Alaska began before national settlement, or western exploration, and indigenous people as part of these histories operate under expansive cultures which may or may not reflect the set of ideologies that were imposed to naturalize the nation in the 'Great Land." With that in mind, I do think that he does impart some reasonable advice: "If you're going to live up to the name of our state," he suggests in the film, "you have to think big and act big."






August 20, 2013

(Alaska) Native Seattle and the Northwest: A Primer.


Yours truly and  two Alutiiq cousins
Thomas Michael Swensen, Michael Inga, and Papa George Inga (Woody Island 2006).
“Do you guys know any songs?” I asked the Aleuts.
“I know all of Hank Williams,” the elder Aleut said.
“How about Indian songs?”
“Hank Williams is Indian.”
“How about sacred songs?”
“Hank Williams is sacred” (190-191).
Sherman Alexie "What you Pawn I Will Redeem"

In the Sherman Alexie story "What You Pawn I Will Redeem," Alaska Natives, in the form of Aleut cousins, make an unforgettable appearance. The lead character Jackson Jackson, a Spokane tribal member, meets three Aleuts sitting on a bench over looking Elliot Bay and and they discuss how they arrived from Alaska by boat. As the story progresses Jackson Jackson, looking for his grandmother's regalia, continues to meet up with the three men, until he hears that they "walked on the water and headed north," returning home (193). The term Aleut historically signified at least three distinct groups of people in where is now considered Southwestern and Southcentral Alaska since their obligatory participation in colonial resource extraction during the 18th century. It's come under scrutiny in the 25 years but the name is still commonly used throughout the world and even within Alaskan communities. Alexie's use of Aleut here seeks to highlight the multitude of Indigenous communities residing in the Seattle region as well as lend a hat-tip to the extractive circuits that bring resources to the contiguous part of the nation from Alaska but fail to give the three Aleuts an opportunity to sail home from Seattle.

Seattle, a city named after Si'ahl, or Chief Seattle, a leader of the nineteenth century Duwamish and Suquamish community. Coll Thrush notes that the indigenous people call the area in the Salish language, “dzee-dzee-LAH-letch,” literally means in English as the “Little Crossing-Over Place,” centered on the area now known as Pioneer Square. At the time of “Little Crossing-Over Place” stood beautiful cedar houses whose residents sustained themselves with the local fish and berries and buried their family members “on a bluff overlooking Elliot Bay” (Thrush, 14). The title of this post, "(Alaska) Native Seattle" draws from Thrush's awesome work, Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over-Place. The distinction between Alexie's and Thrush's narratives of Seattle lie in this recognition of Alaska Natives as part of the regional Indigenous community. I would be amiss if I didn't mention the Tlingit crest pole stolen and erected in pioneer square in 1899.

Seattle Underground Tour, Story of the Pioneer Square Crest Pole

Last year I met Tlingit artist Harmony Hoss selling work in Pike's Market. She's from the Beaver clan so I bought this sticker of a Beaver from her, fair and square.
Harmony Hoss Tlingit Artist Beaver clan, sticker.
http://harmonys-art.com
Alaska Natives can be found throughout Seattle and the Northwest region. To be honest, Washington and Oregon are lousy with Alaska Natives. From lawyers to businesspeople to artists and scholars. In 1971 there were so many Alaska Natives in the region that our 13th Corporation was established in the city of Seattle. My regional corporation Koniag, inc. and my tribe hold regular meetings in Seattle and Portland. There is a Koniag, inc. shareholder picnic next month. Some Alutiiq/Aleut Kodiak Islander visual artists making their homes in the region would be Jerry Laktonen, Vicky Era, and Thomas Stream. Here is a photo of the first meeting of the 13th corporation in the early 1970s. Following that are some art images of seattle-based Aleut/Alutiiq artists.

13th 1st board meet[ing]."Group photo of participants at first board meeting of 13th Regional Corporation in Seattle, Washington. "On steps of the Frye Hotel, Seattle, W[ashingto]n." "Top row left to right: Frank Price, (brother) Jim Price. Second row: Dennis Small, Billy Johnson. Third row: Ray Combs. Bottom row: Mike Stepetin, Virginia Thomas, Robert Perkins, Bert Bauer (Dennis Small's brother)." Billy Blackjack Johnson. Papers, 1923-1997. UAA-HMC-0384 Identifier UAA-hmc-0384-s3-f10-4
"Bird" Kodiak mask, based on old masks in found in St. Petersburg. http://www.whaledreams.com/mask101.htm
Vickie Era Pankretz, "Yuaulik-Searcher"
Thomas Stream "Attitude"
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thomas-Stream-Aleut-Artist/202671769745350
Chris Lukin and Ray Wagner from Port Lions have a rock band N8V based in Seattle. Here's a cool live acoustic clip of them playing in studio at Rez Rock Radio.

www.sonicbids.com/N8V
N8V on Rezrock Radio October, 2007

Speaking of more Alaska Native music, Portland-based Katherine Paul from the band Genders, formally of Forest Park, plays drums and I like this song and video, "Show Me,"recorded live .

                                                           http://genderspdx.com

Kodiak Islander Jimmy Amason (brother of visual artist Alvin Amason) plays roots rock music near Seattle and I've linked this photo of him to his CD baby website. I think his mom worked at Krafts. You can also sample and download his work on Itunes.



Storme Webber
Performance artist and writer Alutiiq Storme Webber, with roots tracing back to Seldovia, maintains and forms connective bonds with many communities Seattle and worldwide. Storme has worked with Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theater, written the historical play "Resurrection City," about the 1970 occupation of Ft Lawton by Bernie Whitebear & Indian activists that led to the creation of Daybreak Star-United Indians of All Tribes, She has been a fellow at the Jack Straw Writers Program, Writer in Residence at the Richard Hugo House, City Artist with the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture. She founder/Artistic Director of Voices Rising: LGBTQ of Color Arts and Culture, circa 2007. She's published in “Beyond Boundaries: Black Women and the Migration of the Subject”, and “Voices Rising: 20 Years of Black LGBT Writing," and appears in the award winning documentary “Venus Boyz." Storme's poem about First Nation's carver John William's tragic killing by a Seattle police officer in 2010 is extremely moving. For some reason Blogger will only allow me to link a video of the reading here, but you should watch it.


Alutiiq people, like Storme Webber, are deeply committed to serving community regardless of where they happen to live. Recently, Alutiiq Sven Haakanson, Jr. took a tenured position at the University of Washington's Burke Museum where he will surely continue work that has proven marvelous and inspirational. A trained anthropologist his accomplishments, like a 2007 Macarthur award and his role as Executive Director of the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak all reflect his ongoing selfless commitment to Alaska Native, and more broadly Native America, culture and politics. His trajectory proves revolutionary in scope. Watching it unfold through the years influenced this S.A.V.E. II graduate to enroll in a community college and somehow complete a doctorate from Berkeley. His work always helped me to believe in myself as a scholar and that I could give beauty back to the world. Here is a link discussing his work further because in truth there could be an entire blog devoted to following his accomplishments. http://gazette.com/alutiiq-museums-haakanson-heads-to-seattle/article/feed/18241

This short list presents a simple primer of Native Alaska in the Northwest.