Consider giving your time to supplement programs at the local schools. Gert Svarny, winner of the 2008 Alaska Governor’s Award for Native Art and an internationally known Unangan artist (and my mother) is currently working with the third graders at Unalaska’s Eagle’s View Elementary School. She is teaching the students about traditional Unangan design. Thanks to the Unalaska City School Board of Education and administration, and the Ounalashka Corporation for funding to provide this after-school program for the students.
Gert worked with the fourth graders last week and they created some beautiful paper full-crown hats.
The third graders will be working on the same project. The first and second graders, in the coming weeks, will be making rattles from clam shells utilizing traditional Unangan design components.
The design portion of the Unangan Program was preceeded by a segment taught by me on the medicinal and edible uses of plants by the Unangax in the Aleutian region. We got to make fun concoctions with plants such as Wormwood Oil, Angelica Salve, Yarrow Lip Balm, Cranberry Sauce, and Bering and Pacific Bath Salts.
Future segments will include a study of birds in the Unalaska area with local expert Suzi Golodoff, and a class hosted by Laresa Syverson (my youngest daughter), the content of which I know not, but know absolutely that it will include a strong language component.
Thanks go to Mary Downs, Program Coordinator, for her great coordinating skills, and Ms. Pat Ellis, ESL teacher, for the awesome help she has been to the classes and for the use of the resource room.
If you want to volunteer to help the teachers in this program, call Mary Downs or Heather Jones at 581-3979.