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'A Great Honor': Community Gathers To Dedicate New Ulux̂tax̂ To Unalaska's Vince Tutiakoff Sr.

Maggie Nelson/KUCB


Enveloped in a thin layer of clouds, a few dozen Unalaskans stood on a bank around Margaret's Bay on the evening of August 12 and watched as Unalaska Mayor Vince Tutiakoff Sr. stood on the rocky beach below reading a prayer.

Tutiakoff recited the prayer as part of a blessing for a new ulux̂tax̂, an Unangax̂ skin-on-frame sea kayak. 

Each new ulux̂tax̂ or iqyax̂ — a single-person Unangax̂ sea kayak — is dedicated to someone. Tutiakoff had no idea while he was giving the blessing, this build would be dedicated to him. 

"We like to dedicate and honor somebody — somebody prominent, somebody meaningful," said Marc Daniels, a professional iqyax̂ builder. Daniels led this ulux̂tax̂ build, which was coordinated by the Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska and the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association.

"Up until now it's mostly been people [who have passed], and this time we wanted to honor someone who's really deserving and who is still alive — very much alive — and I don't want to embarrass him, but this is dedicated to Vince Tutiakoff [Sr.]," Daniels said as he stood over the ulux̂tax̂, reaching to shake Tutiakoff's hand.

With the help of youth and mentors who attended the tribe's Camp Qungaayux̂ — the local culture camp that took place in July — Daniels and his team finished the build in about a week.

This ulux̂tax̂ is named Tukux̂, which translates to "chief" in Unangam Tunuu.

Tutiakoff said it was an unexpected pleasure to have Tukux̂ dedicated to him. 

"Usually they don't name one for people who are still around — at least not at this camp — so it's a great honor and I thank the people for what they did," Tutiakoff said. "Really, I'm overwhelmed."

As Tutiakoff and Daniels rowed in Tukux̂ out into the calm bay, Unalaskans — many of which helped build the ulux̂tax̂ at Camp Q — watched tacitly, listening to APIA's Dustin Newman's voice carry over the water as he sang an Unangam Tunuu song often performed at iqyax̂ and ulux̂tax̂ launches.


Hailing from Southwest Washington, Maggie moved to Unalaska in 2019. She's dabbled in independent print journalism in Oregon and completed her Master of Arts in English Studies at Western Washington University — where she also taught Rhetoric and Composition courses.
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