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

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
King salmon fishing closed on Kasilof starting Monday

The emergency order is being issued to protect returning king salmon, citing weak returns

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna’s city council appropriates funds for FY 2025 capital projects

Improvements are described for streets, police facility, Soldotna Creek Park and Soldotna Community Memorial Park

Most Read