Dennis Knagin. Photo by Sven Haakanson/Alutiiq Museum
elder, community leader and language teacher Dennis Knagin passed away last
Tuesday. He was 81.
Knagin leaves behind his wife Julie, sister Thayo Brandal, his children, 20
grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. The memorial will take place today
(Monday) at 1 p.m. at the Holy Resurrection Cathedral. The graveside service
will follow at 2 p.m. and repast will be at 3 p.m. at the Elk's Lodge.
says his father's health had been declining but that he was feeling rejuvenated
after a recent visit with family.
-- (Knagin 1 :19 "He
went to Wasilla ... just loved to dance. I know that."
born in the village
of Afognak in 1930. His
daughter Denise May says her father was passionate about his home.
-- (Knagin 2 :17 "He
loved Afognak ... loved being on Afognak Island.")
He and his
wife Julie had nine children and were together for more than 50 years. Together
they were an integral part of the Dig Afognak program. Melissa Borton is the
administrator for the Native Village of Afognak, which oversees the program.
She says their hardiness and dedication to teaching youth about their culture
was an inspiration.
-- (Knagin 3 :45 "Often
times they are the ... traditions to our youth was just so important.")
Elks lodge member for over 40 years, was well-known for his humor. Borton says
his infectious laugh will be missed.
-- (Knagin 4 :23 "One
of my favorite things ... loved to joke and he loved life."
an ardent promoter of the northern dialect of the Alutiiq language. The Alutiiq Museum provided this audio of Dennis
singing a silly song in his language.
-- (Knagin 5 :12 SONG
He also spent his time teaching youth about
boats and traditional subsistence. May (His daughter Denise) says knowledge was
very important to her father.
-- (Knagin 6 :33 "He
went to school ... teach how to build boats.")
Some of Knagin's friends might know him by his
nickname (uh-shuh-muh) Ashama. For the longest time May thought the name meant
something important in the Alutiiq language. He earned the name long before he
became a husband, father and community elder.
-- (Knagin 7 :16 "My
aunt told me ... just started calling him Ashama."
says that while his father's death wasn't unexpected, it was a bit sudden but
in accordance with how Dennis lived his life.
-- (Knagin 8 :14 "One
thing he ...wanting to do something it was right now."