Native Village Youth and Education News
November, 2009 Volume 4

Native artist's poster wins national contest
By Melissa Driggers
http://www.thetundradrums.com/article/0942native_artists_poster_wins_national_contest
Condensed by Native Village

Alaska: Andrew Abyo, who is Alutiiq and Aleut, created this year's winning artwork for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Alaska Native/American Indian art contest. The winning poster is titled "We Are All Connected." The pen-and-ink piece depicts mountains, a caribou, geese, whales, otters, a human hand and the land within a circle that represents Earth.

"It's really important to teach our young children about our culture and be proud of who we are," Abyo said.

Abyo was born in Anchorage in 1970 and moved to Pilot Point when he was a baby. His family later moved back to Anchorage but would return to Pilot Point to do their commercial fishing and live a subsistence life.

In 2005, Abyo decided that he wanted to learn more about his culture. He took a class with his uncle at the Alaska Native Heritage Center and discovered his talents for carving. He has since apprenticed for Alutiiq bentwood carver Peter Lind and Alutiiq mask carver Perry Eaton. In the process, he learned much about his own culture and now shares that love with his family and the community.

"I went to Pilot Point, and I taught mask-making down there," Abyo said. "That was really rewarding for me to go to my own hometown and teach the young kids there."

Abyo wants his four children to grow up learning about their culture. The whole family participates in the dance group Imamsuat. Their 3-year-old son is a drummer, and their 1-year-old daughter stands on stage wearing regalia. Abyo's 13-year-old daughter hopes to learn more about her Tlingit ancestry from her mother's side.

"[Abyo] is a wonderful artist to work with who very much wants to keep traditions of Alaska Natives alive through his artwork," said Molly Voeller, contest organizer and facilitator. "I have a great deal of respect for him for how he works with the community and the students. He has a good way of explaining history, artwork, culture and symbolism."

Abyo is a man who loves to educate other people about his heritage. "There's only one thing that separates us from our ancestors," Abyo said, "and that's time."

The yearly USDANRC contest is held in different regions around the country in celebration of American Indian and Alaska Native heritage.  Abyo's poster will be will be posted in all USDA field service stations and handed out at fairs, exhibits and events.

To request a copy of the poster, e-mail landcare@usda.gov

Andrew Abyo Carvings: http://alutiiqmuseum.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=104

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