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Building Husitux̂: short film highlights Unangax̂ watercraft resurgence

Nigilax launch in California
Courtesy Of David Sopjes
Courtesy of David Sopjes
An Unangax̂ niĝilax̂ greets the water on the shores of Metini, the ancestral homelands of the Kashaya-Pomo.

The traditional design of the large skin-on-frame vessel used by the Unangax̂ people was thought to be lost after Russian colonizers destroyed the last remaining examples in the 1800s, according to historic journals. But after decades of work, the design has been restored.

KUCB’s Kanesia McGlashan-Price visited Wiyot and Kashaya-Pomo homelands to take part in this build and launch, 200 years in the making. This film tells the history of the forced relocation of Unangax̂ families, and the story of the Indigenous communities who worked together to reawaken their traditional watercraft.

Angunasix Qaĝalakux̂txin to knowledge holders Vince Tutiakoff, Sr., Lauren Peters, Perry Lincoln and Marc Daniels. Special thanks to APICDA, The Aleut Foundation, Make Access Apprenticeships, Ink People Center of the Arts, California Arts Council, The Ounalashka Corporation and The Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska.

Since 2022, there have been four niĝilan that have been built, with a fifth already on the way.

Atxam tanadgusii [Atka, AK] 2022
Dena’inam Tanangin [Anchorage, AK] 2022
Goudi’ni [Ferndale, CA] 2023
Siitikdax̂ [Sandpoint, AK] 2023
Iluulux̂ [Unalaska, AK] (in progress)

An Unangax̂ multimedia creator from Iluulux̂ [Unalaska], Kanesia is working to amplify the voices of Unangam Tanangin [Aleutian Chain] through web, audio and visual storytelling.
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