A Hunger for Cultural Connection

Family social gathering draws crowd

On Wednesday, April 17, CITC program participants and staff gathered in the Rasmuson Conference Center on the first floor of the Nat’uh building to celebrate and learn about Alaska Native culture.

After CITC’s Prevention (Luqu Kenu) program hosted a similar successful event last year, staff decided to invite participants from other CFS programs to this year’s cultural social gathering, including Parents’ Journey, Circles of Support, Ch’anik’en, and the Prevention program that formerly was part of the Recovery Services department and now falls under CFS. In all, a total of 37 program participants, plus 13 CITC staff, joined in on the dancing, singing, eating, and learning.

“The social gathering is really to help our participants learn about their heritage,” shared Viola Smith, Prevention program manager. “It’s really important for them to engage and to learn. That gives them a better perspective of, Oh, wow, I know who I am now.

The event featured the Kingikmiut Dancers and Singers, who shared their songs with the participants and encouraged everyone to join in with the dancing.

Traditional Native foods were also served at the event, including seal donated by some Elders, who also attended. Past events hosted by Luqu Kenu included other traditional foods like moose meat, caribou, fry bread, akutuq, and even muktuk/maktaaq.

Between dancing, singing, and eating, Elders read to the children from A Day at Camp (Nunayaaġviŋmi itut Uvlumini), which tells a story in the Kingikmiut dialect of Inupiaq with English subtitles on each page.

Based on the success of this event, Luqu Kenu staff plan to hold additional social gatherings and to highlight other Alaska Native cultures, as well. “We plan on inviting more dance groups, like the Yup’ik dancers who perform at the Native hospital,” Viola said. “We’re hoping that with this event, we’ll be able to reach out to more of our participants who really, I think, crave and hunger for this type of gathering, just to have a place to go to meet with their community, with their people.”

Learn more about CITC’s Family Wellness programs here.