Kim Aspelund sits amongst various sound bowls and instruments before a sound bath meditation session at the Masonic building, Thursday Sept. 7, 2023. Photo by Kinsey Brown

The Tribal Family Services (TFS) at the Native Village of Eyak (NVE) recently wrapped up the last session of the sound bath meditation series offered by visiting mediation leader Kim Aspelund. The guided mediation class is one of the many programs that TFS has focused on expanding to both tribal members and the community at large this past year.

Programming at NVE related to the wellness initiatives includes encouraging use of subsistence foods, cultural enrichment, opportunities to improve mental health through meditation, and fostering supportive community connections. Many of this past summer’s events have been based out of the TFS office on First street.

The location in the old library building features a wall of windows that creates a bright environment to host ice cream socials, mug-ups, elder bingo nights, and more. Many of the programs have a core theme of movement and community such as the Elders on the Move outings, Forage Club, and the sound bath meditation nights.

Kayley DeLozier, wellness events coordinator at TFS, said that she wanted to create accessible opportunities for the community to reset and recharge.

“There’s scientific evidence supporting the importance of the mind-body connection,” she said of the mediation series. DeLozier said that fostering restorative health practices like meditation can be a part of a healthy rural Alaska lifestyle.

“Whether it be working as a fisherman or the chores it takes to just live here like chopping wood for the stove, our physical beings are challenged here all the time,” she said.


Sound bath meditation is a mindfulness practice that centers around the use of ambient sound to help guide personal mediation. Kim Aspelund, an experienced health educator, has traveled to Cordova several times this year to lead sound bath meditation workshops in the Masonic building. Beginning in the spring, Aspelund created 90-minute-long workshops combining her knowledge of medicinal Native plants, mindfulness, gratitude practices, and sound bathing.

An example of a class lead by Aspelund in July began with attendees writing a list of things they are grateful for while drinking wild berry infused and spruce infused water. This reflection was followed by a breathing exercise and sound bath where attendees laid on yoga mats with their eyes closed while Aspelund created ambient sounds with bowls, chimes, drums, and a large gong. Essential oils and low lighting added to the ambiance of peace and focus during the evening. Over the summer TFS and Aspelund offered several different sound bath themes.

A diverse crowd attended the last of the sound bath offerings on Sept. 7, the theme of which was wild roses and love. Aspelund said she feels that the approach she uses to her workshops draws from the universal value of relaxation, no matter one’s cultural background.

“The base of yoga is all about total wellbeing through mind, body and spirit,” she said. “Alaska Native people also embody this connection.”

Aspelund said that part of how she addresses this focus is by encouraging mindful harvesting of the native plants she teaches about in her courses, many of which have a sacred significance to Alaska Native peoples.

The majority of the wellness-focused classes offered by TFS are open to the entire community, not just tribal members. DeLozier said she is thankful the Tribe offers these options that hold shared value for everyone.

“My happiness can affect your happiness and vice versa,” DeLozier said. “I think that’s what makes Cordova so special is that we have a collective understanding that we are a big family. We have to share our survival skills, both physical and mental, in all the ways we can.”

For people interested in the many programs and events offered by TFS, information can be found on their Facebook page.