Alaska Native dancer in costume including traditional mask.

ANHC Awarded $1.25 Million

ANHC Awarded Five-Year $1.25 Million SAMHSA Native Connections Grant

September 23, 2020 – The Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) is pleased to announce Unguwat: Resilience & Connection (URC), a new Indigenous wellness project created by ANHC to serve young Alaska Native people (ages 18-24), has been funded under the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Native Connections grant.

“Unguwat is a Sugpiaq word that communicates how people are strengthened by a common purpose; that lives are changed through increased opportunity and self-actualization,” said ANHC Executive Director Keneggnarkayaaggaq Emily Edenshaw. “As a statewide Alaska Native educational and cultural institution, our approach for the past twenty years has been grounded in an understanding that culture is the foundation from which all else flourishes, including the wellness of our young people and communities.”

Led by traditional healer Yaari Walker (St. Lawrence Island Yupik) and Alaska Native youth advocate Tatiana Ticknor (Tlingit/Dena’ina/Deg Xinag), URC will create space for Indigenous people to heal from intergenerational trauma through arts, culture, and traditional healing practices.

URC responds to a gap that transitional aged youth and young adults in Anchorage experience when it comes to connecting with their cultures and each other in settings that affirm their wellness. This is especially true for those new to the city, who come from rural communities seeking education and employment.

Over the next five years through URC, ANHC will partner with Alaska Pacific University, University of Alaska Anchorage, and many other partners to provide opportunities for Alaska Native and other Indigenous youth and young adults to connect, learn, and share in culture-rich gatherings. ANHC will also partner with local social service providers to enhance the cultural responsiveness of the youth-centered services they provide through policy alignment, trainings, and peer education.

“ANHC’s mission and the services we deliver are designed in the understanding that Alaska Native culture is the greatest source of strength and healing for our communities,” said Edenshaw. “On behalf of the Alaska Native Heritage Center Board and Staff, we are very thankful for this opportunity to serve the wellness and connectedness of our future leaders, and to expand the resources Alaska has to ensure that they thrive.

For more information on the Unguwat: Resilience & Connection project, please contact ANHC Executive Director Emily Edenshaw by email at eedenshaw@alaskanative.net or by phone at (907) 330-8059.