Credible is a series addressing abuses perpetrated by the Catholic Church in the State of Alaska. Athabascan and Iñupiaq artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs has been developing the series since 2005. Recent works represent the 35 villages with credible claims of abuse at the hands of religious officials supposedly sent to ‘save’ them. Included below is a list of those accused. This information was provided by Anchorage Daily News investigative reporter Kyle Hopkins. His research was obtained from Jesuits West and supplemented with a report by the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks listing “all known individuals, including priests, religious, lay employees and volunteers against whom a complaint of sexual abuse has been filed by one or more individuals,” and against whom the abuse has been proven, admitted, or “credibly accused,” and accepted by the Catholic Church. These are the only claims acknowledged by the Catholic Church at this time.
Kelliher-Combs’ work has long explored the weight of secrets and the physical, emotional, and psychological burdens of trauma. In Credible, Alaska, the act of embedding and stitching human hair into vintage maps viscerally points to legacies of violence wrought by colonization. At the same time, sewing as a method of repair, coupled with her frank revelation of the names and locations of abusers, is a powerful act of truth-telling and resistance to the pernicious nature of secrecy surrounding sexual abuse.