AK) - Alaskans can learn about the traditional uses of dog teams
by Native peoples and the importance they played in their survival.
Programming will also recall the courageous cross-country dog
sled trip from Anchorage to Nome to deliver serum to fight a diphtheria
epidemic in 1925. The Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) celebrates
Traditional Mushing Day on March 20, 2004 from 10am to 5pm. Traditional
Mushing Day is one of the continuing series of Celebrating Culture
Saturdays sponsored by BP.
to dog sled racing, dog teams were used by Native people in their
daily lives for survival. Alaskan sled dogs of that time were large,
capable of pulling heavy weight and were used for hauling food back
to the villages. Presentations will focus on different uses for
the teams, differences in equipment and in the dogs themselves.
Peters, famous Athabascan Iditarod musher, will be giving a special
presentation on traditional dog mushing, racing and working trap
lines. Peters, also known as "The Yukon River Fox", won
the Iditarod as a rookie in 1975 by cutting six full days off the
previous race time and setting a speed record that stood for five
years. Peters grew up with sled dogs in Ruby and brought a lifetime
of knowledge to the race. Peters spent five years as a top 10 finisher
and even continued to run the race after a training accident shattered
his knee in 1986. He came out of retirement to run the race again
in 2000 turning in his fastest time ever at age 59.
will be performances by the Fireweed Dancers, King Island Singers
and Dancers of Anchorage and the Alaska Native Heritage Center's
Dance Group. The Fireweed Dancers were formed in May 2003 when a
student shared a song with others and inspired others to join in.
Currently, 10 to 15 dancers are learning and performing songs from
all over Alaska. As part of their growth, they create their own
songs as well as making their own regalia, drums and dance fans.
Fireweed Dancers range in age from 14 to 17 years and represent
all regions of Alaska. The King Island Dancers and Singers of Anchorage,
Inupiat, will have two performances. Although the Bureau of Indian
Affairs relocated the King Island people to Nome they continue to
strive to keep their traditions alive. The late Paul Tiulana founded
the King Island Dance group in the 1970's to preserve the traditional
values and rich heritage of the King Island people. Most of the
dance equipment and dance masks the group uses today were hand made
by Paul and his son, Eugene. The King Island Dancers and Singers
have performed all over Alaska and the world. The Alaska Native
Heritage Center Dance Group was created in the fall of 2001 as part
of the ANHC's After-School Program for Alaska Native high school
students. The initial vision was to offer a performance component
to the students, teaching them traditional Native dance (Yup'ik
Eskimo dancing). The group has studied with master dance instructors
from throughout the state, expanding its performance repertoire
to include Tsimshian, Inupiaq and Aleut singing and dancing.
will be hands on classes in Alaska Native dance, language and art
as part of an ongoing ANHC Cultural Education Program sponsored
by the CIRI Foundation. Art and language classes will be held each
Saturday and will run for 4 to 6 weeks. Language classes will be
Unangax Aleut with Sally Swetzof from 11am to 1pm, Deg'i tan Athabascan
with Louise Winkleman and Martha Wassillie from 1pm to 3pm and Tlingit
with Paul Marks from 3pm to 5pm. Art classes will be Alutiiq basket
weaving with Natalia Inga from 10am to 12:30pm and sewing a Yup'ik
doll parka with Eva Bryant from 2pm to 4:30pm. Dance classes will
be Inupiaq dance with Ed Tiulana at 10:30am, Aleut (Unangan) dance
with Crystal Swetzof at 2pm and Alutiiq dance with June Pardue at
4pm. Each dance class will last a half an hour. To register for
art and language classes, call 330-8002, Monday through Friday,
8am to 5pm. There is no registration necessary for the dance classes.
addition to the art classes there will be arts and crafts sessions
for all ages. Several videos will be shown such as The Serum Race
to Nome, Winter Patrol, Armchair Mushing and Stories Given, Stories
Shared. Weather permitting there will be snowshoeing.
can experience the five recreated village sites that illustrate
the traditional structures in a typical village before or shortly
after contact with non-Native cultures. Knowledgeable tour guides
will share the history, culture and traditions at each site.
Alaska Native Heritage Center is an independent, nonprofit that
is committed to sharing, perpetuating and preserving the unique
Alaska Native cultures, languages, traditions and values through
celebration and education. It is located at 8800 Heritage Center
Drive in northeast Anchorage, just off Muldoon Road North near Bartlett
High School. For more information about other events and programs,