Alaska Native man wearing jean jacket with patches and holding a guitar. Sitting on box.
Qacung Blanchett. Courtesy Joy Demmert.

Yup’ik culture bearer and Pamyua bandmember Qacung Blanchett has been using music to perpetuate culture for three decades, and recently the support has been rolling in. In late 2021, Blanchett received a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation SHIFT award to develop a series of workshops that strengthen Sugpiaq/Alutiiq drumming and dancing on Kodiak Island. In early 2022, he was recognized as a United States Artist Fellow and named one of the Kennedy Center’s Next 50. “I’m really excited. To get this type of recognition is pretty huge. It’s pretty big for any artist,” he said.

USA Fellows receive $50,000 of unrestricted funding and support from a financial advisor to use the money in the most impactful way. Blanchett released a solo album in 2021, and he said the fellowship funds are a resource that could help him continue creating his own music. 

To celebrate a half century, the Kennedy Center recognized 50 leaders in arts, athletics, and other disciplines. The center and the 50 leaders will collaborate to continue offering opportunities in arts and heritage. “I’m going to be leveraging that resource of the Kennedy Center to be able to uplift the work we’re doing in cultural justice and decolonization work we do in schools and communities,” Blanchett said.

On top of his personal artistic pursuits and educational initiatives, Blanchett works as the Art Education Director for Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. He spearheaded the creation of the Juneau-based Rock Áak’w festival, an indigenous music festival that launched in November 2021 and will be an ongoing event held every other year. Learn more about Blanchett on qacung.com.


Alexander Deedy formerly worked as the assistant editor and digital content manager for Alaska magazine.

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