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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 20, 2004 - Issue 109


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Alaska Native Heritage Center Celebrates the Return of Spring

by Alaskan Native Heritage Center Press Release
credits: Kingikmiut Dancers

Kingikmiut DancersAnchorage, AK) - In many Alaska Native cultures, spring was a time to prepare for the coming summer and the return of migratory birds and whales. The Heritage Center invites everyone to participate and learn how the many traditional cultures of Alaska begin their seasonal cycle. Spring is the beginning of the whaling season for the communities of Point Hope and Barrow. For the Tanana Athabascan, "Ch'eyona" or the month of March translates to "when eagles return" and for the Nunivak Island Cup'ik its "seals month." The Alaska Native Heritage Center's (ANHC) Spring Festival will be held on March 27, 2004 from 10am to 5pm. The Spring Festival is one of the continuing series of Celebrating Culture Saturdays sponsored by BP.

There will be performances by the Kingikmiut Dancers and Singers of Anchorage. The Kingikmiut Dancers and Singers of Anchorage are Inupiat Eskimos, originally from Northwest Alaska. Their village of origin bears the English name of Wales, but the residents call it Kingikmiut. Kingik means "high ground" and Miut means "people who live there" in the Inupiaq language. Approximately 150 people live in the village today. It is located on the western-most point of the Seward Peninsula, about 450 air miles northwest of Anchorage. Richard Iyoqunga Atuk, Sophie Egalena Nothstine and her son Greg Tungwenuk Nothstine started the group in 1991. There are now more than 20 group members who participate at different times, including 10 young people between the ages of 5 and 15 years old. Over the past 10 years, the group has revived many songs that were performed by the village elders before the arrival of the first non-Natives in the area.

The Bird Treatment and Learning Center (Bird TLC) will be giving special presentations with a Golden Eagle, Raven and a Great Horned Owl. The Bird Treatment and Learning Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to rehabilitating sick, injured or orphaned wild birds and avian education programs. Dr. James R. Scott, an Anchorage veterinarian, founded Bird TLC in 1988. Dr. Scott, along with other Alaskan veterinarians, donate their time to treat the birds in need. In addition to medical care, Bird TLC provides a variety of educational programs to increase people's awareness of the wild birds around them and to encourage preservation of their habitat.

Rebecca Williams, Sugpiaq, will be giving a presentation on Ukrainian Egg Art. Williams has been creating egg art for the past 5 years. Williams is the granddaughter of well-known storyteller Lucille Davis and the daughter of Lalla Williams, well-known fiber and skin sewing artist.

There 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, 2pm and 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.

In addition to the art classes there will be arts and crafts sessions for all ages. Several videos will be shown such as Old Dances, New Dances, A Dancing People, Camai Festival and Stories Given, Stories Shared. Weather permitting there will be snowshoeing.

Visitors 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.


The 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, visit

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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