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Tuggeht: Land Acknowledgement

Bunnell Street Arts Center gratefully receives a Social Justice Award from Alaska Community Foundation, a Community Fund Award from National Performance Network and a Rasmuson Tier One Grant for Tuggeht: Land Acknowledgment of Dena’ina and Sugpiaq lands, to advance awareness, participation and visible acknowledgment of Indigenous lands and attest to the thousands of years of sustainable, Indigenous lifeways since time immemorial which continue to steward this place.

“Bunnell inhabits a former Trading Post. Our work today is to reinvent this space, to foster and build this community as a place of cultural wealth and opportunity for all. We all benefit from alignment with Indigenous practices of investing in community and sharing what we make, sharing our cultural wealth,” says Artistic Director, Asia Freeman

Land Acknowledgement workshops led by Alaska artist Melissa Shaginoff (Ahtna and Paiute) took place in May and June, 2020. “Land Acknowledgment is the public recognition of Indigenous peoples. The Alaska Native people have stewarded this place for thousands of years. Their acute knowledge of this environment created a sustainable and symbiotic relationship with the waters, plants and animals of this land. We look to their Elders and their youth for guidance. Only Indigenous ways of being that will ensure our collective future.

“Traditional potlatch of my people, giving away one’s wealth— the capacity to take care of one’s clan—characterized a sustainable relationship to the land and to each other. We give to our opposite clan in times of loss and grief, and it comes back to us. In this way, wealth exchange strengthens communities. That tradition was undermined in Alaska with colonization and trading posts. People gave their wealth and power to the trading post rather than each other,” says Shaginoff.

The grants underwrite dialogues on Land Acknowledgment with Indigenous Alaska artists in July and August as part of Bunnell’s Inspiration and Adaptation podcast, exploring previous and current artists’ work in Land acknowledgement (5 dialogues) which are posted on and Facebook Live.

July 10: We Were Not Discovered: How should Captain Cook be remembered with Da-Ka-Xeen Mehner and Melissa Shaginoff
July 17: Where We Begin: Tuggeht, at the shore. Learning about land acknowledgment with Emily Johnson and Amber Webb
July 24: How Can We Move Forward? Framing civic partnerships in land acknowledgment with Argent Kvasnikoff
July 31: We’re Still Here: Indigenous monuments with Joel Isaak
August 7: Acknowledgement in Action with Melissa Shaginoff

The awards also support Land Acknowledgement in Action, a Sign Installation with Melissa Shaginoff in August, 2020 and Tuggeht, a permanent sculpture installation by Argent Kvasnikoff supported by the Rasmuson Foundation and the Social Justice Fund of the Alaska Community Foundation.

Tuggeht: Land Acknowledgment is supported by a 2019 Rasmuson Tier One Award and the 2020 Social Justice Fund grant program of Alaska Community Foundation. The Social Justice Fund is made possible through the generous support of John Rubini and Clare Bertucio and many other donors who want to support progressive causes in Alaska. Tuggeht: Land Acknowledgment is also a National Performance Network (NPN) Community Fund project supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. NPN is committed to a more just and equitable world by building artists’ power; advancing racial and cultural justice in the arts; fostering relationship-building and reciprocity between individuals, institutions and communities; and working towards systems change in arts and philanthropy.

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