By Randi Somers
A well-known Alaska native, Dr. Iglahliq Suuqiina will be presenting a talk followed by an open question and answer session at the KBay Cafe Sunday from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. His talk is “Art and Spirituality.”
Born in 1950 in Nome, Dr. Suuqiina is of Inuit, Native American, English, Scottish, Irish and French descent. He is the grandson of Chief Suuqiina of King Island, Alaska and his mother was a full-blood Inuit. Through his father he is the 14th generation descendant of Stephen Hopkins who financed the Mayflower and also signed the Mayflower Compact and lived in Plymouth.
Due to his mother contracting tuberculosis, he was placed in a residential school/orphanage in White Mountain, Alaska, when he was a toddler. He lived there in the village, surrounded by his people and his culture, until he was seven years old.
At age seven he and his biological brother were adopted by the missionaries who ran the orphanage and they were moved to Thief River Falls, Minnesota, where they remained until he was 18.
During this time, Suuqiina was cut off from his native identity and culture due to the process of forced assimilation imposed upon native children, which was the practice at that time. Through these years he excelled in sports, educational pursuits and art and he became an accomplished concert pianist.
When he entered college as a young adult he was drawn to Native American studies where he once again connected to his lost culture through books. For a few years he traveled as a keyboard player with a rock band opening for many well-known musical groups in the early 70s. It was during this time that he had a transformative religious experience that altered his path in life.
He then felt called to pursue a life’s work as a preacher of the word of God and he served as a pastor for 21 years. During that time he was a founding member of The International Christian Embassy in Israel. He served as a hospital chaplain, a police chaplain and as a pastoral counselor. He also served on the board of directors for the denomination of which he was a part.
Suuqiina continued to pursue art and music through his bi-vocational career as a commercial graphic artist, an oil painter and as the keyboard player in Last Generation, a Christian Rock Band.
He also studied with his mentor, master painter Scott Switzer and was awarded first place for best oil painting in the Nashville Arts League.
Forty years from the time he was taken from Alaska, Suuqiina returned to Alaska and reconnected with his native culture and his people. He also served on the board of directors of the Thirteenth Region Board of Directors, an Alaska Native Corporation. He was instrumental in bringing the Inuit drum back into the hands of his people for the purposes of worship in Alaska.
It was during this time that Suuqiina connected with George Otis Jr.
“Can You Hear The Mountains Tremble; A Healing The Land Workbook” was authored by Suuqiina and the Healing the Land Seminars that he taught across the United States and internationally.
In 1999 while serving as a gatekeeper for Grand Chief Lynda Prince and the 120 Drums, he traveled to Israel and stood before the Knesset and Avram Berg with other Native American chiefs and leaders. Through this Israel connection, he met and married Qaumaniq and joined her as the North American representative to a messianic ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, a position in which she had already been serving at the time of their marriage.
In addition to his teaching on Hebraic roots of the faith, Suuqiina participates as a featured artist at the Alaska Federation of Natives annual conference. He has also been a featured artist in Denali Alaska State Park, the Alaska Native Heritage Center,the Peabody Museum in Massachusetts, the Nashville Arts League Gallery, Ptarmigan Gallery and the Anchorage Spirit Gallery. He is a member of the Native American Indian Arts and Crafts Association, the Silver Hands-Made in Alaska Artist Association, the Oil Painters of America and the Portrait Society.
His talk and art show at KBay Cafe starts at 3 p.m. Sunday, followed by a question and answer period planned to conclude at 5 p.m.
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