Alutiiq Studies Program recognizes recent graduates

by Michelle Saport  |   

Left to right: Sugt'stun Master Teacher Rhoda Moonin, graduate Brandon Moonin, Alutiiq Studies Program Director Libby Eufemio and graduate Mia Moonin-Wilson

Left to right: Sugt'stun Master Teacher Rhoda Moonin, graduate Brandon Moonin, Alutiiq Studies Program Director Libby Eufemio and graduate Ephimia Moonin-Wilson.

On Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, Kodiak College proudly participated in a celebration of achievement for two students, Ephimia Moonin-Wilson and Brandon Moonin, who were recognized for their completion of their Occupational Endorsement Certificates (OECs) in Alutiiq language from Kodiak College. Libby Eufemio, assistant professor of Alaska Native studies and head of the Alutiiq Studies Program, traveled to Anchorage to participate in the ceremony at the offices of Chugachmiut Inc.

Ephimia Moonin-Wilson of Port Graham, Alaska, and Brandon Moonin of Tatitlek, Alaska, spent a year taking distance courses from the Alutiiq Studies Program at Kodiak College. To earn the certificate, they took 16 credits of coursework and passed an oral proficiency language exam. Kodiak College Director Alan Fugleberg stated, "The program the students completed is not easy; it involves dedication, self-discipline and hard work. They should be proud of themselves and their accomplishments."

The students received funding to earn their Alutiiq Language OECs through Chugachmiut Inc.'s Heritage Preservation Department, whose goal is to prevent Sugt'stun language loss and promote the language in schools. (Sugt'stun is the traditional name of the Alutiiq language.) They are currently employed to take college-level classes and assist in teaching Alutiiq in their local schools, while gaining mastery in the Alutiiq language themselves.

The Alutiiq Studies Program was created seven years ago at Kodiak College with the mission of providing career preparation and professional development rooted in Alutiiq culture and values. Alutiiq language speakers Dr. Alicia Drabek and Dr. April Laktonen Counceller were integral in establishing the program, which was initially funded through a federal grant (Title III Department of Education/Alaska Education grant). The Alutiiq Studies Program offers students everywhere the opportunity to learn the Alutiiq language and culture via both face-to-face and distance instruction, and provides students the opportunity to not only preserve the language and gain culturally relevant skills, but also earn an economically useful OEC in Alutiiq Language.

Ephimia Moonin-Wilson and Brandon Moonin are the seventh and eight graduates of the Alutiiq Language OEC at Kodiak College. Both are currently pursuing their Associate of Arts degrees, and hope to become State of Alaska Type M-certified teachers of Alutiiq in their home school districts. Their Kodiak College Alutiiq Language teacher Peggy Azuyak sent words of congratulations to the students, "Atagua! Silugtua! Pektaarllriatek!" ("They did good! I am proud! They both worked hard!")

Learn more about the Alutiiq Studies Program at the Kodiak College website.

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