Aang! My name is Haliehana Alaĝum Ayagaa Stepetin. I am Unangax̂ and was born and raised on Akutan in Unangam Tanangin [the Aleutian Islands of Alaska]. I am an enrolled member of the Native Village of Akutan Tribe, known as Qigiiĝun, and a shareholder in The Aleut Corporation and the Akutan Corporation. My scholarly research theorizes Unangax̂ subsistence cosmologies rooted and routed from my upbringing immersed in processes and Protocols that govern life in my Unangam Tanangin home. I have a Ph.D. in Native American Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Studies in Performance and Practice from the University of California, Davis (2023, Patwin Lands). I have a Master of Arts in Cultural Studies from the University of Washington Bothell (2018, UWB, Coast Salish Lands), a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a concentration on Russia from the University of Alaska Anchorage (2016, UAA, Dena'ina Elnena). I served four years in the Navy as a Fire Controlman 2nd Class Petty Officer onboard the USS Chosin CG 65 stationed on Kanaka Maoli lands and waters in what is known as Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i. I am currently an Assistant Professor at the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies where I am applying my doctoral research to reach Arctic audiences and decision makers.
I am an artist, scholar, and activist. My passions include performing, choreographing, and composing Unangax̂ dance, especially with Tanam Anĝii Collective. Tanam Anĝii Collective is an Unangax̂ performance art group made up of Anchorage-based Unangax̂ artists. I spend my summers practicing the subsistence processes and Protocols I learned from my dad, my first formative theorist, throughout Alaska and spend my winters enjoying the fruits of our summer harvest.
My dissertation titled, "Unangam Qaqamiiĝuu [Unangax̂ Subsistence] Cosmologies: Protocols of Sustainability, or Ways of Being Unangax̂," connects environmental justice, Indigenous food sovereignty, and climate change research from a hyper-local Unangax̂ context with, by, and for Unangax̂ and Arctic Indigenous communities. My work intersects fields of Native American and Indigenous studies building from my participation in transmissions of oral histories and cultural knowledges while braiding together my interdisciplinary research experiences in critical race theory, Native literature, and performance. Upholding kinship accountabilities, my work seeks to foster sustainable futures that center reciprocity and stewardship from the subsistence cosmology I was raised within. In my scholarship, teaching, and research, I intentionally employ Indigenous epistemologies, ontologies, pedagogies, and methodologies to interrupt limiting spaces of knowledge production towards Indigenizing research with, by, and for Alaska Native and Indigenous Peoples.
My long term goal is to address systemic issues that affect Alaska Native Peoples' educational experience to foster communities of autonomous, self-reliant, and self-sustainable Indigenous Peoples for the futurity of Indigenous Knowledge 10,000 years into the future.
Qaĝaasakuq for stopping by!