Given the importance of Alaska Native culture in our state, this summer the Seward Community Foundation was pleased to award the local Quteckcak Native Tribe (QNT) a $1,000 mini-grant to continue their Alaska Native art classes. The classes bring together community members of all ages on Wednesdays between October and April, and are open to everyone who wishes to participate. The successful program began four years ago, and last year over 200 participants learned Native carving, basket weaving, drum making, kuspuk sewing, and more. The grant funds help the QNT purchase materials and pay two Alaska Native artists as teachers, allowing them to offer the classes free of charge at their building on Third Avenue.
“Traditional arts are vital to the cultural identity of a people. As with indigenous languages, traditional arts are disappearing from native families and schools and becoming less familiar to younger generations,” said Sarah Benjamin, QNT Division Manager. “Qutekcak Native Tribe is able to provide to our community Alaska Native arts classes with the help of funding from the Seward Community Foundation. Quyana (thank you)!”
The program aims to educate students, teachers, and families about Alaska Native arts in a fun, friendly environment. This year, QNT will expand the program by bringing it to local classrooms and engaging more students. In addition, they will travel to Seward Mountain Haven to serve Alaska Native elders residing at the nursing home. The elders are often far from their family and cultures, and can feel isolated and depressed without culturally relevant activities. Past programs have also included AVTEC students and their families who come from distant towns and villages, further enriching the classes and connections for local residents.
For more information on the QNT Native Art Program, please call (907) 224-3118 or follow @qutekcak on Facebook.
Funding for this mini-grant came from the Seward Community Foundation Unrestricted Fund.