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The IDEA Festival

The IDEA Festival Speaker Series

Featuring thought leaders, innovators
and those that are breaking trail for the ones that follow.

Saturday, November 26, 2022
Kayhi Auditorium
Beginning at 1:30pm, times below are approximate

1:30pm - Irene Dundas - "Bringing home our History"
2:00pm - Christina Hughes and Angela Vecchione - "Creating Dance"
2:30pm - Dr. Charlie Jose - "Nakakalito: Being an immigrant is confusing"
3:00pm - Caitlin Steinberg - "Collecting Oral History in Metlakatla"
3:30pm - Jack Finnegan - "Opening Access to Ocean Activities"
4:00pm - Christopher Koch - "Orchestral Music in Today's World"
4:30pm - Ernestine Hayes "An Idea of Art"

IDEA Festival Fusion Speaker Ernestine Hayes

The Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council is honored to welcome our 2022 Fusion Speaker - Ernestine Hayes to the IDEA Festival stage.

  • Ernestine Hayes belongs to the Kaagwaantaan clan of the Tlingit nation. Author of award-winning Blonde Indian, an Alaska Native Memoir and of The Tao of Raven, an Alaska Native Memoir, her shorter works appear in Studies in American Indian Literature, Yellow Medicine Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She is the 2021 Rasmuson Distinguished Artist and served as Alaska Writer Laureate 2016-2018. Professor emerita of the University of Alaska Southeast, Hayes is mother of three, grandmother of four, and great-grandmother of three. She lives in Juneau, where she was born and raised.

    Hayes has received critical acclaim for writing that explores the complexities of Indigenous identity. She is of the Eagle moiety, a member of the Wolf House of the Kaagwaantaan clan of the Lingít (Tlingit) nation. Her art examines privilege and trauma, myth and wisdom, culture and resilience. She crisscrosses genres: creative nonfiction and poetry, fiction and children’s literature. Her piece “The Spoken Forest” was permanently installed as a Poem in Place at Totem Bight State Park in Ketchikan. Another work, “Aanka Xootzi ka Aasgutu Xootzi Shkalneegi” or “Town Bear Forest Bear,” stands out as the first children’s book published as an original story in Tlingit. As her colleague Maria Shaa Tláa Williams put it, Hayes blurs the line between poetry and prose. Two of her best-known publications are “Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir,” for which she received the American Book Award, and “The Tao of Raven: An Alaska Native Memoir.”

    Hayes has dedicated her life to the arts, education and service to community. Born in Juneau, cared for early on by grandparents while her mother was treated for tuberculosis, she tells of “25 long years” in California before making the journey home. As a teen, she didn’t finish high school but at age 50 she took her GED and enrolled in college at University of Alaska Southeast. She received her Master of Fine Art in creative writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage and taught at the University of Alaska Southeast. She received the Faculty Excellence in Research and Creative Activity Award before retiring as professor emerita of English in 2019. She has served on the boards of the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the Alaska Native Studies Council. From 2017 to 2019, she shared her passion for writing with all Alaskans as Alaska State Writer Laureate. She has worked to give voice to those who too are often overlooked — who have been incarcerated or homeless or victimized. She says any recognition she gets “is not only mine. It belongs to Tlingit people.”

    “Ernestine Hayes is, simply put, a gifted writer whose way of describing the world changes the reader,” said Diane Kaplan, Foundation president and CEO. “Her own story is beyond what most of us could imagine. As she will tell you, she’s experienced homelessness. She’s been broke. She lost her home to fire. Yet she remains incredibly giving with her time, talent and spirit, full of light and compassion.”

    Asked to reflect on her work, Hayes said: “It often seems to me that we’re simply the vehicles by which stories present themselves to the world, and our lives are those stories telling themselves.”

IDEA Festival Guest Speakers

Irene Dundas

  • I currently work for KIC’s Cultural Resources Dept. As the Cultural Heritage Specialist-Tasked to infuse culture in to all aspects of the Tribe and community. I worked for Cape Fox Corporation for fourteen years as the Repatriation Program Manager and Corporate Secretary, where I researched, organized and facilitated the largest repatriation in the country, repatriating nine totems, human remains, associated funerary objects and one clan house from various museums across the country. I interviewed elders on a day to day basis acquiring cultural knowledge which led to assembling 221 genealogical charts and some dating back to 1550. The charts are situated by clan house and organizes individuals by clan and clan house-matrilineally. I conducted research in every major archival repository in the country, including the Smithsonian, UC Berkley, Presbyterian Mission Archives, Library Congress, State Archives, Forest Service, BIA and the State of Alaska Dept. of Vital Statistics. I was Executive Director of Cape Fox Heritage Foundation, where I continued to do repatriation work, mostly research, facilitated Lingit language classes, established the Sacred Sites Guardian Council to protect sacred sites in the Ketchikan area and lastly curated and documented Cape Fox Corporations 1061 artifact collection. I served on KIC Health Board for one term and then chose to run for the Tribal Council and served the Tribe for 13 years and for 11 years I was the President and CEO, where I negotiated KICs IHS, BIA compacts and contracts. I served on the Chamber of Commerce Board for Ketchikan, a Board Member for the Peace Health Foundation, served on the Cape Fox Corporation Board for 15 years. I currently serve on Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council Board, and I’m Commissioner for the Ketchikan Historic Commission and committee member for the Repatriation Review Committee for Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. I have completed several training courses and received certificates of achievement and completion from the Smithsonian, State of Alaska-Suicide Prevention, Forest Service NEPA, Safe from Harm and various others. Lastly and most importantly, I’m a lifelong subsistence user, hunter, gatherer, fisherwoman and I’m a provider for my family.

Christina Hughes and Angela Vecchione of Hughes & Vecchione Dance Projects

  • Hailing originally from New York, Christina Hughes is the co-founder of Hughes and Vecchione Dance Projects. She currently resides in Ketchikan-an island located in Southeast Alaska. Her unique environment has driven her to further pursue her interests in dance filmmaking. She has directed and produced short dance films which examine the body’s relationship to space and landscape. She is incredibly grateful to share, promote and inspire the creative process in such a wonderful community, and is thankful to promote a mission that believes in pursuing performance opportunities in rural and unconventional spaces.

  • Angela Vecchione is co-founder and the east coast representative of the bi-coastal partnership, Hughes and Vecchione Dance Projects, currently living in her hometown of Pinehurst, NC. After spending Summer ‘22 as the Special Events Coordinator for Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, she is grateful for the opportunity to further her career in development as the Donor Relations Manager for American Ballet Theatre later this fall. Angela loves pasta, her dachshund JJ, and devising innovative and risk-taking choreography. She is proud to work with Christina Hughes to offer opportunities for dance artists to collaborate on creative projects, regardless of geographical barriers.

Dr. Charlie Jose

  • I was born in Manila, Philippines and immigrated to the deserts of southern Nevada when I was five years old. I then discovered the mountains while attending the University of Nevada, Reno and realized I enjoyed living in places with seasons (besides hot and really hot). After completing my undergraduate degree in Mathematics, I moved to the northeast to obtain a Master of Public Health from Boston University. During graduate school, I worked as a project coordinator in clinical addiction research and education at one of Boston’s safety net hospitals. I learned about health care barriers faced by stigmatized populations and the importance of social justice in medicine.

    ​I moved back to Reno for medical school, where I got the chance to practice my skills in health policy and management through volunteer work with underserved patients. ​I fell in love with broad spectrum family medicine because of its utilitarian nature along with the opportunity to forge long-term relationships with patients. I am particularly interested in health policy to improve patient-centered health outcomes, rural and underserved medicine, and wilderness medicine. I now practice both inpatient and outpatient medicine in Ketchikan, Alaska.

    ​Outside of medicine, I love exploring the outdoors. I enjoy seeing the world, scuba diving, cycling, hiking, backpacking, camping, and running.

Cailtin Steinberg

  • Caitlin Steinberg is a historian and archivist, residing in Metlakatla on Annette Islands Reserve. Her research as an oral historian with Department of the Interior, the U.S. Navy SEALs and the Metlakatla Indian Community, seeks to embolden individuals and small communities to step into their own identities and legends, utilizing modern day methods of oral storytelling and digital archival services. Ms. Steinberg is contracted by the Metlakatla Indian Community, with the support of Annette Islands School District to incorporate Tsimshian tradition, student participation, and the community’s family unit structure in building the reserve’s first historical archive.

Jack Finnegan

  • Jack Finnegan's love for language and fascination with the lived experience have compelled him to create storytelling and spoken-word performances since he was a kid. His most ambitious effort to date in this medium was a five-year, three-cycle project titled City Love Song, which saw him perform in 50 cities across the country and around the world, and included Off-Broadway stagings and international theatre festival performances. This project ultimately led Jack to Ketchikan, for which he could not be more grateful.

Christopher Koch

  • Christopher Koch is the Juneau Symphony's new Music Director and has previously served as Music Director of Ozarks Lyric Opera, Music Director of the Missouri Philharmonic, Music Director of the Madrona Festival, and was a co-founder of the Ozarks Performing Arts League. He also served as Executive Director of Ozarks Lyric Opera and was formerly music director of the contemporary group Ensemble 21. He has appeared as a guest conductor with orchestras across the United States, Australia, and Canada and is active nationally as an early music specialist (recorder) in recital, concerto, and conference performances. Additionally, he has been privileged to work on projects or commissions with numerous composers including John Corigliano, Steven Stucky, Christopher Rouse, James Mobberley, Jonathan Newman, Nicolas Maw, Angelica Negron, Carlyle Sharpe, and DJ Sparr. Koch also spent two decades in higher education, most recently at Drury University. Under his direction, Drury ensembles toured regionally and performed at multiple state conferences, participated in composer commission projects, and were recognized nationally by the College Band Directors Association, the American Prize Competition, and by numerous granting organizations. He received his Bachelor of Music degrees in flute performance and music education from the Eastman School of Music, Master of Music degrees in flute and orchestral conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music, and the Doctor of Musical Arts in conducting from the University of Washington. He is also a contributing author for the book series A Composer’s Insight: Thoughts, Analysis, and Commentary on Contemporary Masterpieces for Wind Band (Meredith Music Publications) and resides in Juneau with his wife Danielle and daughter Ella.

The Positive Impact of the Arts in Ketchikan

  • Impact of the Arts in Ketchikan

    5,700,000 million annually

  • Direct employment by arts sector


  • Volunteers


© 2022 Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council

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