as graceful as tundra willows and arms as robust as hunters
sketched out the images from living with the land and sky while feet
stomped to the rhythm of village drummers at the 11th Stebbins Yupik
Cultural Awareness and Dance Festival. About 270 boys and girls participated
in the festival that appeared to move along with seamless organization
at Tukumgailnguq School Jan. 29 and 30, but nevertheless evidenced
hard work by the school team, village volunteers and the spirit of
the festival, Rose Anna Dan - Waghiyi, 70.
dancing, the youngsters keep me young, she laughed.
Anna Dan-Waghiyi of Stebbins says preserving traditional Yupik
dances makes her happy and the children happy when they learn
to dance the rhythms and songs. These are some of the students
who participated in the 11th Stebbins Traditional Yupik Skills
and Dance Festival Jan. 29 and 30.
Murphy of Stebbins coaxes grasses with many loose ends into
mats at StebbinsYupik art and dance festival Jan. 29.
flitted from class to class during the day to check into traditional
skills classes, stopping five to 10 minutes where busy youngsters
with busy fingers concentrated and appeared to thoroughly enjoy
beading, skin-sewing, listening to elders stories, braiding
grass mats, made drums, wove whaling nets and twined together sinews
like their mothers and grandmothers did when they were young. In
the evenings, Dan - Waghiyi sat for hours on the gym floor drumming
and singing for Stebbins young dancers and even those from
Stebbins elder organized the festival years ago when she saw few
smiles on young faces in the village.
They didnt look happy, and they didnt act happy.
I was afraid, she said. I wanted to make them happy,
to make friends from other villages. I wanted to keep them away
from crazy things like sniffing, breaking in, stealing. I wanted
them to exercise their bodies and to listen to their traditions,
to remember who they are and to enjoy themselves, she said.
said the dancing was a hit. They are really interested in
learning and dancing and making new friends. They dont say
a word, but you can see it on their faces. Last week kids
from all over the Bering Strait region had an opportunity to make
friends outside their villages. The evening dance schedules showed
performers who had flown in from Teller, Koyuk, Shishmaref, Golovin,
Kotlik, Shaktoolik, Elim, St. Michael, Brevig Mission and Unalakleet.
Olana of Brevig Mission celebrates old ways in new days at
the 11th annual Stebbins Traditional Skills and Dance Festival.
About 275 youngsters traveled from their villages to attend.
The meet was supported by Hageland and Bering Air, Norton
Sound Economic Development Corp., Bering Sea Lions Club, Alaska
USA, Norton Sound Health Corp., BSNC and Stebbins IRA.
Otten of St. Michael shows a new fisherman how to use braided
twine, because it is stronger and picks up less dirt. Tom
caught whales last year, but even more in 2000. "I gave
most of them away," he said.
of the songs youngsters learn in Stebbins came from neighboring
St. Michael and Nelson Island and Tooksook Bay where some ancestors
lived. But most of the songs are made up here, Dan-Waghiyi
said. Stebbins people make them up, about outdoors, hunting,
weather, boats, and comedies teasing songs for our
teasing cousins from Kotlik.
Theresa Prince of Kotlik helps Jordan Johnson
and Sean Paul Martin to get their skin sewing under contol
Friday at the festival of Yupik learning and dancing at Stebbins.
pick on Kotlik? Some Kotlik people came from the same origins. Some
people in Kotlik had ancestors who lived like we did, in the old
village of Atriviit, the first village here before Stebbins. They
are our cousins. We call them our teasing cousins.
history goes down with the songs in the villages, Dan - Waghiyi
said. As for her, she teaches the students how the song goes,
what it meant then, what he was doing when he made up the song,
she said. I asked the old people long ago before they died.
The songs still have their power.
love the weather song. When we sing the weather song, the weather
always gets good. My students cantgo very long without the
weather songs, she said.
songs move the weather and they move Dan-Waghiyi.
I sing the old songs it makes me feel really good, really, really
good. I feel the people who have passed away are around me,
she said. I didnt really lose them. I can remember how
they look, how they lived. It makes me feel so good and strong.
But all this, I do it only for the kids. I want them to feel it
WHO MADE THIS DRUM?
help dancers to portray rolling thunder and lightning striking,
Northern Lights, hunting and "teasing cousins."
Akmalenguk gives a stranger the once-over from under his father's
chair. Dad is George Koontz of Stebbins who taught a carving
class during the festival.