Member Spotlight: The CIRI Foundation

For the month of October, GIA’s photo banner features work supported by The CIRI Foundation.

This is the text The CIRI Foundation submitted for this Spotlight:

The CIRI Foundation (TCF) is an Alaska Native organization with a mission to promote heritage and education among Alaska Natives (especially among Cook Inlet Region original enrollees and their descendants). TCF has offered Heritage and Education Project Grants to support nearly four-hundred cultural and educational improvement activities around the state.

In 2016, TCF expanded grant making to include theJourney to What Matters: Increased Alaska Native Art & Culture (JWM) grant program which aims to encourage programming that enhances intergenerational arts knowledge sharing in communities across Alaska. Since launching, the JWM program has supported more than one-hundred projects in rural communities and urban centers across the state ranging from regalia and weaving projects, to tattooing, boat building, tool making and mask carving activities. We have seen from this work that engaging in customary arts activities is a powerful method for transferring cultural knowledge while building community, creating cross-cultural learning platforms and increasing economic opportunities for artists.

TCF funded projects examine Alaska Native arts from a holistic point of view to appreciate the cultural context that surrounds making and using Alaska Native art forms. The arts activate song, story, language and dance and bring people together to solidify family and communal ties. By working to retain customary arts knowledge TCF's grant programs help to maintain connections to the past while moving forward in a future rooted in knowing who we are and where we come from.

The CIRI Foundation joined Grantmakers in the Arts in 2021.

You can also visit The CIRI Foundations’s photo gallery on GIA’s Photo Credits page.

Image: Cedar bark headband, Yakutat Culture camp. / Bethany Goodrich, Sustainable Southeast Partnership