South Whidbey Record


Cultural center to explore Native, Japanese cultures at Langley campfire

South Whidbey Record General assignment
August 14, 2013 · Updated 2:44 PM

Participants of the Northwest Language Academy and Cultural Center take a break from art classes and play a game. Camp participants include Ian Brackin Kosuga, Yoseok Hwang, Daniel Lueken, Brendan Lumsdaine, Alden Sivadas, Sophia Lumsdaine, Natalie Rodriguez, Mako Kuyama, Makoto Otsuka, Tadasi Otsuka, Hana Yasumatsu and Ayumi Komatsu. / Celeste Erickson / The Record

Cultures are coming together in an exploration of art and storytelling at the Northwest Language Academy and Cultural Center this week.

The center is hosting a gathering of Japanese, Native Americans and Whidbey Islanders from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at the NWLA Cultural Center in Langley.

The free event will feature songs and stories from host Frank Sanchez, Chief Iron Eagle.

Josette Hendrix, founder and director, said this event is groundbreaking for the center. The program has offered many language camps for children, but this program is made unique by Sanchez.

He is the last principle headsman for the Yankton Sioux Fire of The Great Sioux Nation and a traditional spiritual leader for the Yankton Nakota people. Sanchez spent time in Japan before and after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

“I frankly think this is going to be life changing for the parents and the children,” Hendrix said.

Sixteen visitors from Japan will experience various excursions including making pottery, painting, glass blowing, visiting farms and community centers and taking in the culture on South Whidbey during their stay.

English and art teacher Caroline Clark will teach students form-line design, use of ceremonial objects and to distinguish a variety of cultural styles. Clark said she aims to teach culture through art.

Sanchez will also lead a workshop for students and introduce them to native art and culture.

Native American culture, or American culture, is important to share with children, he said. Part of his tradition is to pray for children around the world.

The work of Doe Stahr, an adopted daughter of the T’lingit/Killerwhale clan, will be featured at the center through Aug. 30. Stahr’s work takes iconography from the ceremonial context of native cultures and blends it with modern native life.

Hendrix said visitors will gain a deeper appreciation of American culture, especially in a small-town community.

“[This gathering] provides the opportunity in our mission to connect people across cultures to meet on the human level and feel out humanity together on this planet. It supports our being here in harmony and peace,” she said.


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