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Indigenous Land Acknowledgment Public Art Sculpture

Tuyanitun: Tuggeht (pronounced too-yan-eee-toon : to-get) is a  public art sculpture installed in October, 2022. It was designed by Ninilchik Village Tribal member and artist Argent Kvasnikoff, with the intention of making land acknowledgment visible and broadly accessible. The sculpture anchors a wider, upcoming revamp of Bishop’s Beach Park and Pavillion.

  • Tuyanitun is a direction based on the ancient Dena’ina wayfinding system.
  • Tuggeht is the Dena’ina name for the place also known as Bishop’s Beach.
  • The sculpture marks a place beloved by all and evokes boreal spruce, rock cairns, and beach glass.

The community partnership between the Ninilchik Village Tribe, the City of Homer, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and Bunnell Street Arts Center signals a commitment to tell the true story of this place, and that Homer today occupies unceded Indigenous lands.

This Community Arts Partnership project is supported by grants from Alaska Community Foundation, Alaska State Council on the Arts, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, National Endowment for the Arts, National Performance Network, Ninilchik Tribal Council,  and Rasmuson Foundation. 

Dedication Remarks

Made Possible by

Alaska Community Foundation Social Justice Fund

Alaska State Council on the Arts

The City of Homer

Cook Inlet Tribal Council

National Endowment for the Arts

National Performance Network

Rasmuson Foundation

The Ninilchik Village Tribe

and these community donors:

Sunny Aldrich, Anonymous, Annette and Marvin Bellamy, Myesha & Christian Callahan Freet, Denice & Roger Clyne, Tom Collopy & Mary Frische, Mary & Tom Chouinard, Shannon Daut, Ken Lanfield, Charlotte Fox, Claudia Haines, Karin Holser, Lily Hope, Robert & Kris Hoffman, Lilly Kelly, Asia Freeman & Michael Walsh, Amy and Craig Fredeen, Susan Johnson, Winter Marshall-Allen, Diane McBride, Jo & Peter Michalski, Hollis Mickey, Mountain Spirit Works, Rachel Mulvihil, Margaret Nicolai, Bridget Maryott, Rika & John Mouw, Chris & Angie Newby, Adele Person, Bernie Person, Uncle Herb’s, Joseph Piper, Sallie & Dan Rediske, Bob & Miranda Shavelson-Weiss, Carol Swartz, Vamoose Alaska Vacation Rentals, Susanne Ratcliffe Wilson, Lori & Tom Zitzmann, Robanne Stadling, Mary Lou Kelsey, Thorey Munro, and Christina Fenner.

Tuyanitun: Tuggeht, a landmarking sculpture, celebrates Indigenous stewardship of these lands, past, present and future. Tuyanitun: Tuggeht, the sculpture, is both a beautiful, innovative work of art and, as a part of the City of Homer’s Municipal Art Collection, it is an artifact of a profound process of learning together in public. 

The sculpture is situated at Tuggeht, which means “at the shore” (Dena’ina), the original name for the place now called Bishops Beach, within the tribal lands of Nichiłt’ana, Ninilchik Village Tribe, which is a modern and mixed tribe, but their members trace their roots from the ancient Kachemak peoples, and the Dena’ina and Sugpiaq people of this region, who have stewarded these lands since time immemorial. The name Tuyanitun is based on an ancient wayfinding system embedded in the landscape, radiating from the central high point of the Ninilchik Dome. The artist who designed this installation, Argent Kvasknikoff, tells us more about his forward-thinking vision in his remarks (Artist’s remarks

The process of making land acknowledgement visible in the form of this sculpture began as an inquiry, an effort to learn more about this history of this place. Bunnell’s Board and staff have been deeply dedicated to this work.  In 2020 Bunnell Street Arts Center hosted a series of conversations about land acknowledgement. To learn the original place names and honor the traditional stewards of this land is one thing, but how do we turn this acknowledgement into action? How do we make learning visible and accessible to more people, and make this work a ripple that at leads outward to more learning, more stewardship, and more inclusive stories of place? 

Argent Kvasnikoff, the artist, is a member of Ninilchik Village Tribe, who became interested in the arts while studying anthropology and language at  Capilano University in Vancouver, Canada. He has been exhibiting in juried shows, solo exhibits and art installations in Alaska since 2015.  In 2019 Argent conceived the idea of Tuyanitun : Tuggeht. At his suggestion, we presented the proposal to Ninilchik Tribal Council for review, because the Ninilchik’s tribal boundaries include not just the Ninilchik and Happy Valley area, but north to south Kasilof including the south side of the Kasilof River and Tustemena Lake, East to the Caribou Hills and Kenai Mountains, South to the City of Homer and Homer Spit, and a portion of the Western Cook Inlet and Upper Alaska Peninsula surrounding Mt. Iliamna, the east of side of Lake Clark, and the south face of Mt. Redoubt. 

With the approval of Ninilchik Tribal Council and its autonomous work, we then reached out to The City of Homer and invited a collaboration with Bunnell Street Arts Center in elevating this effort of land acknowledgement. 

City council member Donna Aderhold brought forth Resolution 20-079 to accept Tuyanitun: Tuggeght as a gift to the municipal public art collection. And then we worked diligently with the City of Homer’s park, arts, recreation and culture commission to site the work with the advice of Bunnell’s Vice President, Rika Mouw, who is a trained landscape architect. In addition to Councilmember Aderhold and Rika Mouw, on behalf of Bunnell, I’d like to acknowledge and thank the full Council for supporting this project, Caroline Venuti, Jason Davis, Rachel Lord, Storm Hansen and Shelly Erickson, and mayor, Ken Castner. We are also grateful for the partnership of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the support of Steve Delehanty and Lora Haller, who welcome thousands of visitors to these lands every year, and introduce many to Tuyanitun ; Tuggeht. 

Midton Acrylics cast the sculpture from recycled plastics in Scotland. Dave Gronseth fabricated the sculpture’s pole at Automotive Collision Experts in Homer,  and many City staff, especially Public Works Director, Jan Keiser, and Parks Superintendent Matt Steffy, very capably and thoughtfully stewarded this project forward. 

The City’s role in this project is an in-kind effort exceeding $55,000 in value, from land, to services. In addition, this project received grants from many organizations and supporters including Alaska Community Foundation Social Justice Fund, Ninilchik Village Tribe, Alaska State Council on the Arts, National Performance Network, Rasmuson Foundation and  Cook Inlet Tribal Council, and fifty-six private contributors who donated a total of $18,194. 

In all, this is a tremendous effort and we at Bunnell feel very humbled to be a part of this, and learn with our greater community, from Homer to Ninilchik and beyond, about the legacy of Ninilchik Village Tribe, from its ancestral wayfinding techniques, stories and names, a modern tribe of many people, to which one in 15 people of this greater community belongs. That’s really notable. There is so much to uplift in this learning, but most of all, we recognize the committed community members, supporters and donors, and a sense of kinship and respect that has been remarkable, expansive and ever-deepening through learning. I think this is the greatest legacy, and one that is rooted in Indigenous lifeways and values. This guides us forward. As one city staff member said, the sculpture reflects light and looks like a beacon from afar. 

Asia Freeman
Artistic Director
Project Blog...

Land Acknowledgment Sculpture Funded

Thank you for your support of Tuyanitun : Tuggeht. We surpassed our fundraising goal with $18,239 with donations ranging from $25 to $5000, and with additional support from Alaska Community Foundation Social Justice Fund, Alaska State Council on the Arts, Automotive Collision Experts, The City of Homer, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Midton Acrylics, National Endowment for the Arts, National Performance Network, Rasmuson Foundation, and of course the Ninilchik Village Tribe. The community support of this project, and all we have learned from its creation, is inspiring.

Due to construction delays, primarily because of shipping and weather, the September 24th installation and dedication of Tuyanitun : Tuggeht must be postponed.

We deeply appreciate your support of this incredible project, and look forward to celebrating its installation later this fall. Stay tuned!

Thank you to these generous community donors for your support for Tuyanitun : Tuggeht:

Sunny Aldrich, Anonymous, Annette and Marvin Bellamy, Myesha & Christian Callahan Freet, Denice & Roger Clyne, Tom Collopy & Mary Frische, Mary & Tom Chouinard, Shannon Daut, Ken Lanfield, Charlotte Fox, Claudia Haines, Karin Holser, Lily Hope, Robert & Kris Hoffman, Lilly Kelly, Asia Freeman & Michael Walsh, Amy and Craig Fredeen, Susan Johnson, Winter Marshall-Allen, Diane McBride, Jo & Peter Michalski, Hollis Mickey, Mountain Spirit Works, Rachel Mulvihil, Margaret Nicolai, Bridget Maryott, Rika & John Mouw, Chris & Angie Newby, Adele Person, Bernie Person, Uncle Herb’s, Joseph Piper, Sallie & Dan Rediske, Bob & Miranda Shavelson-Weiss, Carol Swartz, Vamoose Alaska Vacation Rentals, Susanne Ratcliffe Wilson, Lori & Tom Zitzmann, Robanne Stadling, Mary Lou Kelsey, Thorey Munro, and Christina Fenner.

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