Unalaska's Native Culture Camp Now In Its 18th Year

Wednesday, August 05 2015

Kids learn to prepare salmon at the Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska's Camp Qungaayux. KUCB/John Ryan photo.

The annual Camp Qungaayux (kuh-NIGH-you, the Unangan word for humpback salmon) runs this week in Unalaska. It’s the Qawalangin Tribe’s annual culture camp. Now in its 18th year passing down traditional Aleut culture, it’s become a tradition of its own. 


Shangin: “My name is Barbara Shangin. I am actually going to teach children how to weave. I’m a teacher at heart, so I love to share my knowledge with the kids. Because I live in Anchorage, it helps me. I love coming down here because it rejuvenates me as a Unangan person because I can speak my language, get in touch with the environment, the food that we eat.”

Baxter: “I’m filleting salmon right now. You need to get the right technique. Lucien Baxter. Right now, I’m in 8th grade.”

Ryan: “What do you like about the camp?”

Baxter: “I think everything about the camp is really fun, especially when they go out and catch a seal and they skin it, and the fishing is the best.”

Shaishnikoff: “We’re washing the fish so we can put them inside the tote and go hang them and dry them for later, so they don’t spoil or get moldy and rotten."

Ryan: “Can I get your name?”

Shaishnikoff: “Talon Shaishnikoff. I think it’s important because pretty soon it’s going to be gone. There’s going to be no one that’s going to be doing this stuff, and everyone’s going to forget the language and the culture, and maybe no one’s going to be able to do any of this stuff any more. I think it’s good to have Camp Qungaayux so people can learn and keep the tradition going.”

Tutiakoff: “We just got done with a beach seine on the beach here at Humpy Cove.”

Ryan: “Are these humpys?”

Tutiakoff: “These are pink salmon, humpys. We didn’t get any reds or dogs in the net this year.

I’m Vince Tutiakoff Senior. I’m the camp coordinator for Camp Qungaayux. Kids are here to help out. As you can see, they’re having a good time, getting the heads off…”

Moses Dirks: “So you guys are not supposed to be messing around with the fish and playing around with it. This is food. You don’t do that to steaks, right? This is the same thing, you should treat it the same way.”

Tutiakoff: “There you go, Moses.” [laughs]

“This year, we’ve got 67 kids of all age groups and nationalities here. Not only Aleuts, but there’s a pretty good mixture here of young kids that want to learn. We have a few here that are mentors today that were kids. They started at the 4th-grade level. Now they’re teaching.”

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