Lydia Apatiki is a traditional St. Lawrence Island skin sewer that uses materials harvested and gathered by her family to create intricate traditional Yup'ik dolls, traditional game kick balls and bird skin parkas. Materials such as auklet bird skin, tanned seal skin, reindeer hide and sinew are used.
Lydia works to revitalize traditional clothing arts and is passionate about the preservation of St. Lawrence Island language and culture. Over a decade ago, she sewed a murre skin parka for her nephew which is now on display at the Gambell School. In 2008, she completed a bird skin parka for the Alaska Native Heritage Center and she is currently finishing another auklet parka and documenting the knowledge of bird skin parka making for the Katirvik Cultural Center at Kawerak.
She is also a former teacher from Gambell on St. Lawrence Island. She is a speaker of St. Lawrence Island Yupik and taught the bilingual program for many years at the Gambell school, where she developed a St. Lawrence Island Yupik language workbook for elementary grades.
Lydia's Cultural Capital fellowship program will be to compile a sewing curriculum that incorporates the St. Lawrence Island Yup'ik language, traditional stitches and materials used to create the artwork.