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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America



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Celebrating the Drum at the Alaska Native Heritage Center


by Alaskan Native Heritage Center


credits: Snow Singers by Cecil Youngfox


(Anchorage, AK) - Visitors will be able to see Alaska Native Dance groups and artists celebrate the drum on Saturday, August 28th from 9am to 6pm. Dance Groups will be performing throughout the day and artists will be demonstrating drum making from different Alaska Native cultures.

"In celebrating the drum, we are honoring this important part of our culture," stated Jonathon Ross, President and CEO. "The drum is a unifying and recognizable aspect of all Alaska Native cultures and in all other indigenous cultures. We offer this program to share with the public the culture of the drum."

Alaska Native dance and drumming groups who will be performing include the King Island Singers and Dancers of Anchorage, Alutiiq Anguyat Dancers, Naa Luudisk Gwaii Yatx'i, Miracle Drummers and Mt. Susitna Singers and Dancers of Anchorage.

Alaska Native and American Indian Dance and Drum Groups:
King Island Singers and Dancers of Anchorage - The late Paul Tiulana founded the King Island Dancers and Singers in the 1970's to preserve the traditional values and rich heritage of the King Island people. The Bureau of Indian Affairs relocated the King Island people to Nome in the 1960's and Tiulana was dedicated to keeping their rich traditions alive. 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 Anguyak Alutiiq Dancers is a newly formed group. The word "anguyak" means warrior in the Sugtestun Language. The word represents our efforts to keep the Alutiiq culture alive. Individuals from the Hawaiian community helped form the group and then later stepped aside once the group had enough experience to make it on its own. Members from Wasilla practice their song and dance, as well as, share traditions and stories taught to them by their ancestors.

Naa Luudisk Gwaii Yatx'i is comprised from the languages of several Northwest coast cultures, translated it means "children of the islands who learn". Naa Luudisk Gwaii Yatx'i is an Anchorage-based performance group composed of members of many cultures who share songs and dances from the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples.

Miracle Drummers and Singers are tradition bearers of the Yup'ik culture. Members of this group are artists, creating much of the regalia they are wearing. The group members are originally form different communities in southwest Alaska and now reside in Wasilla, Alaska.

Mount Susitna Singers and Drummers were founded in 1990 and are devoted to a sober lifestyle. Their songs are primarily in the traditional style of the Northern Plains but also include some from the Southern Plains. The group embraces contemporary innovations to augment their traditional background.

Demonstrating artists will be on hand to demonstrate different aspects of making drums. Artists include Ossie Kairaiuak, Preston Rookok, William Jackson, Loren Anderson, Eugene Koezuna and Beckie Etukeok. Jerry Lieb Jr. will be teaching a class in drum making from 11am to 1pm.

Demonstrating Artists:
Phillip "Ossie" Kairaiuak, was born in Bethel, Alaska and was raised in Chefornak, Alaska. Kairaiuak is fortunate to be fluent in both Yup'ik and English. He learned about the Yup'ik world at home, and the Anglo-American world in school. He received an Art Degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Ossie has also instructed high school students in contemporary and traditional Yup'ik singing, dancing and art.

Preston Rookok is St Lawrence Island Yupik from the village of Savoonga, Alaska. Growing up in the village he learned to speak his Native language and lived the subsistence lifestyle by hunting and captaining a whaling boat. Rookok also worked for the Bering Straits School District as a Special Education Aid for seven years. He currently shares his life experiences as a cultural host at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

William Jackson is Tlingit. Jackson is of the Raven Moiety and Coho Clan. His Tlingit name is Staqwan. He was born in Juneau, raised in Seattle, and has lived the last eight years in Anchorage. He currently sings and drums with a local Southeast group Naa Luudisk Gwaii Yatx'i. Jackson is also a traditional and contemporary storyteller.

Loren Anderson is Alutiiq (Sugpiaq). His father is from the town of Kodiak (Sun'aq) and his mother is from the village of Afognak (Ag'uaneq). Anderson currently works as the Cultural Representative Supervisor at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. He first started as a part-time summer employee and worked his way to a supervisory position. He makes Alutiiq art and is currently involved with a newly formed Alutiiq dance group in Anchorage. Loren has received his Associates of Arts degree from North Seattle Community College.

Jerry Lieb Jr.'s Inupiaq name is Sivaluaq. His name was given to him after his Great-Grandfather had passed away. Lieb was the next born and in the Native tradition, he was given the name so that his grandfathers name and spirit would live on. He is both Yup'ik and Inupiaq and was born in Bethel, Alaska. He has been making and painting Native drums since 1997.


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.  

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