MEDIUM: Skin Sewer
LOCATION: Little Diomede, Alaska
Mary Menadelook is a storyteller and skin sewer who is dedicated to passing on the skills of sewing traditional dance garments for Little Diomede.
Mary is one of Diomede's last Inupaiq elders who speaks their language fluently. Her Cultural Capital project will be teaching her community how to sew traditional dance uniforms and will weave in her knowledge of Eskimo songs, dances, and the stories behind the songs during the sewing classes.
The finished dance garments will be worn by the Inaliq traditional dancers at regional and local events to celebrate their culture. She hopes to give back to Diomede and wishes for the next generation to carry on the Inupiaq culture and feels the best way is through dance.
Her method of teaching her community's children and adults is through one-on-one mentorship. She shared that people learn at different paces and she will ensure each participants gains comfort and a love for sewing. She says sewing gives people time to think in silence and become proud of their accomplishments.