Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion Students and area residents enjoyed locally-made fry bread during the kick-off event for Alaska Native/Native American Heritage Month on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 in the McLane Commons at Kenai Peninsula College.

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion Students and area residents enjoyed locally-made fry bread during the kick-off event for Alaska Native/Native American Heritage Month on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 in the McLane Commons at Kenai Peninsula College.

Culture events raise awareness during Alaska Native Heritage Month

Hungry students and visitors got a taste of traditional Kenaitze fry bread Thursday during the first of several Alaska Native/Native American Heritage Month events.

Sponsored by the Kenai Peninsula College Showcase Series, the University of Alaska Anchorage Diversity Action Council and others, the fry bread social treated dozens of residents and students to a snapshot of local Alaska Native culture in the McLane Commons at the college.

“We’re just trying to highlight activities and events that we can bring to our campus more activities to help welcome our Alaska Native students,” said Sondra Shaginoff-Stuart, one of the event organizers. “I used to work for the (Kenatize Indian) tribe and these are the things we used to do to bring people together, and so that’s all we’re trying to do — just bring everybody together.”

Shaginoff-Stuart, a coordinator for the Rural and Native Student Services, helps pick out activities for the heritage month each year. She and Diane Taylor, director of the college’s learning center program, are part of a larger committee at UAA that selects events and activities.

“I did a little grant writing to get some additional funds from UAA, from the diversity action council,” Taylor said. “In this case, we found people liked it (the fry bread). So this was a good way to kick it off.”

Julie Wilson of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe got up at 4 a.m. to start the process of baking the bread for the event, Shaginoff-Stuar said.

Tribal representatives attended the social with information about the tribe’s many programs.

Shaginoff-Stuart and Taylor said the purpose behind the month’s events are twofold. First, they provide enjoyable activities for the community to come together to participate in. Second, they seek to educate residents and students about the Alaska Native people and cultures around them.

“Students may be coming from a different place and they don’t even know, they’re just going to school here,” Shaginoff-Stuart said. “And then even local students that may not know that the tribe’s also available for them.”

Soldotna resident John Roberts takes classes at Kenai Peninsula College and happened upon the fry bread event as he was walking by.

Though he hadn’t heard about the social beforehand, he said he is no stranger to the traditional treat.

“I’m from South Dakota, so I’ve had it there,” Roberts said. “It’s kind of a common thing there also.”

Students from the Kuspuk School District were also at the event with EXCEL Alaska, an organization that takes students in grades seven through 12 from southwestern Alaska to events and activities to help with career exploration and leadership skills.

Students were visiting Kenai Peninsula College for a tour and did not know there would be a fry bread event beforehand, said Emily Peterson, a ninth-grader from the Kuspuk School District.

“It seemed like it was pretty cool,” she said of the social. “It just seemed nice, and it made me feel like I was back home.”

 

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsula.com.

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion Barnie Weaver, of Kasilof, puts honey on a piece of fry bread during a kick-off event for Alaska Native/Native American Heritage Month on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, in the McLane Commons at Kenai Peninsula College.

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion Barnie Weaver, of Kasilof, puts honey on a piece of fry bread during a kick-off event for Alaska Native/Native American Heritage Month on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, in the McLane Commons at Kenai Peninsula College.

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion Students and visitors enjoy locally-made fry bread during the kick-off event for Alaska Native/Native American Heritage Month on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 in the McLane Commons at Kenai Peninsula College.

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion Students and visitors enjoy locally-made fry bread during the kick-off event for Alaska Native/Native American Heritage Month on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 in the McLane Commons at Kenai Peninsula College.

More in News

Flowers bloom at Soldotna City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna OKs bumps to city water, sewer rates

The changes are effective July 1

Triumvirate Theatre President Joe Rizzo testifies before the Kenai Planning & Zoning Commission on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai OKs permit for new Triumvirate playhouse

The playhouse design describes a $4.7 million facility that is two stories with an audience capacity of 150 people

Kenai City Council member Alex Douthit testifies in support of legislation allowing chickens on some city lots during a meeting of the Kenai Planning & Zoning Commission on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai planning group gives conditional thumbs-up to chicken ordinance

The legislation would allow Kenai residents to keep up to 12 chicken hens on certain lots

Emergency personnel respond to a fire on R/V Qualifier, in the Northern Enterprises Boatyard on Kachemak Drive, Jan. 19, 2023, in Homer, Alaska. (Photos by Nika Wolfe)
Research vessel catches fire in Homer boatyard

The cause of the fire and extent of the damage is not yet known

Alaska Vocational Technical Center Executive Director Cathy LeCompte presents during a Soldotna Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
AVTEC director plugs programming at chamber luncheon

AVTEC is about more, LeCompte said, than just checking off classes to gain certification

From left, Dave Carey, Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings, Zach Hamilton and Peter Micciche participate in a Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor candidate forum on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough mayoral candidates participate in Tuesday forum

The forum was hosted by the Peninsula Clarion and KDLL 91.9 FM in partnership with the Central Peninsula League of Women Voters

A volunteer ladles Hungarian mushroom soup donated by Odie’s at Kenai United Methodist Food Pantry in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, Jan. 23, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Church food pantry marks 20 years of service

The Food Pantry at Kenai United Methodist Church opened Jan. 26, 2003

Library Director Dave Berry and Advisory Board Chair Kate Finn participate in Library Advisory Board meeting on Tuesday Jan. 17, 2023, at Homer City Hall, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Emilie Springer/Homer News)
Homer Library Advisory Board upholds decision to retain LGBTQ+ books

A citizen’s group last year submitted a petition asking that the books be removed from the children’s section

Most Read