Kathy Ward, Kotzebue
Being a kid who regularly performed Eskimo dances at the old NANA Museum, I had the occasional encounters with Kathleen Ann “Apauraq” Ward, normally known as Kathy. I remember her being one of the adults who would consistently remind me that I am a unique individual and I should project that through my performances. She would encourage my peers and I to loosen up while dancing and show that we are proud to be sharing a part of our culture with the tourists.
Ward is the granddaughter of Edward and Lorretta Ward and was born in Nome, Alaska. She has lived in Barrow, Point Hope, and Atqasuk but considers Kotzebue to be her home. While she was in school, she was a part of the Future Homemakers of America and the Northern Lights Dancers. The NANA Museum employed Ward as a curator for many years. Here, she worked with young people to teach them how to Eskimo dance along with speak in public and how to sew.
Ever since she was a young girl, Ward had an artistic twist to her personality. In school, she won art contests, beauty pageants, and talent shows that awarded her with scholarships. She can do anything from skin sewing, to beading, to making dolls, and to singing.
Many women around the region had influenced Ward to achieve the things she has today. Her grandmother, Ada Ward, was a surgical nurse, owner of a baking business, and a reindeer herder before Alaska gained statehood. She mentions Sally Gallahorn from Rotman’s Store as one of the foundational supporters of her skin sewing by giving her some of her first furs. Terry Walker was also a supporter who encouraged Ward to publicly sing when she was 12 years old. Walker is now the principal at the Buckland schools.
“If I hadn’t seen her do that, I may not have done a lot of things,” Ward explains.
She was inspired to begin making dolls from Ethel Washington who had her dolls displayed at the NANA Museum. Washington had passed before Ward was born but taught her doll sewing skills through a book she had written. When the Northwest Arctic Borough had public meetings about closing the Chukchi Consortium Library, Ward spoke up about this specific experience. Through studying Washington’s book that was available at the local library, Ward was able to improve her sewing skills with dolls.
Today, a few of Ward’s creations are put on display in public places. She has made thousands of Eskimo dolls and at least 10 traditional fur parkas. One of these fur parkas is displayed in the Anchorage Museum and one of her dolls in the White House. Ward has also been written about in the Smithsonian Learning Magazine.
“I don’t take myself too seriously. I laugh all the time.” Ward says.
MISS Quote of the WeekThere is an inner beauty about a woman who believes in herself; who knows she’s capable of anything she puts her mind to. There is a beauty in the strength and determination of a woman that follows her own path, who isn’t thrown off by obstacles along the way. There is beauty about a woman whose confidence comes from experiences; who knows she can fall, pick herself up and move on. -Anonymous
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