Unalaska at its finest.

We have been enjoying our beautiful February weather over the past week or so.  Mom and Dad say that they have always done a lot of boating in February because the weather always offers up a couple of weeks of beautiful, flat calm days with brilliant sunshine. 

This past week has also shown another finest of Unalaska, besides its February weather. It has been an action-packed showcase of the generousity of Unalaskans, from the Channel 8 auction (with their awesome and hilarious soap opera, Dutch Harbor 99692 ), to the Ballyhoo Lions bowling, spilling over to the Museum of the Aleutian’s Chocolate Extravaganza, and ending up on Sunday with the Preschool Ice Cream Social.  Where else but Unalaska, could you wear yourself out donating money to great public ideas in action?  And having fun doing it? 

A couple of my indispensable chocolate making tools.

I also wrapped up my segment for the Unangan Program at the elementary school.  My last week with the cutest little first graders you will ever see, was a breeze after my previous week with almost 30 second graders!  Not that the second graders weren’t cute…..there were just soooooooooooo many of them.  Keeps you on your toes when you are working with hot oil. 

Awesome journal-ing.

Suzi Golodoff now has five weeks with the students, teaching about our Aleutian feathered friends, and, last but not least – in fact, most importantly – Laresa Syverson will give 5 weeks of her afternoons in the pursuit of passing on Unangam tunuu (the Aleut language) to a generation younger than her!

Can you find the grey-crowned rosy finch?

An invite to an EXTRAVAGANZA and an update on the first and second graders…

We are preparing for the 2nd Annual Chocolate Extravaganza at the Museum of the Aleutians.  The event will be held on Friday evening, February 13.  Tickets are available at the Museum, or from members of the Board of Directors.  Those members are:  Kristine King, Chris Hladick, Denise Rankin, Patty Gregory, and Sharon Svarny-Livingston.  If you are so inclined, bring a chocolate concoction to the extravaganza to show your support, expertise,  and for others to enjoy.   I am bringing a couple of items,  including cherry cordials.   Come mingle with friends, meet new friends, and indulge yourself with all the chocolate you could possibly imagine.  I have heard that there may even be chocolate items for sale that you can take with you to help celebrate Valentine’s Day!  Get those tickets before they are sold out.cherry-cordials

Unangan Program Update

The first and second graders finished up the Unangan design portion of the Unangan After School Program.  practiceThey learned about Unangan design from Gert Svarny and after setting up their design and practicing, they implemented their plans and each created a chaayax, or rattle, made from clams.  Or two, or three.3-chaayax



Both classes were quite large, with over 25 students in each class.   Gert and I would like to thank Pat Ellis, Chet Higa, Mary Downs, and especially Ciera, for all their help.

It was a crazy madhouse at times!!  If you get a chance, visit the elementary school as all of the projects from the Unangan classes are on display in the entrance lobby.

Hope everyone watched and supported Channel 8 during their fundraising auction.

Unangan traditions revisited.

Gert Svarny teaches Unangan design.
Gert Svarny teaches Unangan design.

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. 

4th grade faux Bentwood hats waiting to go home.
4th grade faux Bentwood hats waiting to go home.

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 students have been very diligent workers.
The students have been very diligent workers.

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.

Olive oil being infused with the angelica plant.
Olive oil being infused with the angelica plant.

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.