10 days ago, Barrow resident Rex Okakok Sr. got the news that a dance
group he belongs to, the Suurimmanitchuat Eskimo Dance Group, led
today by elder Warren Matumeak, would be heading to Washington, D.C.,
to perform in the Jan. 20 Inaugural Parade following President-elect
Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony. Palmers Colony High School
marching band is also invited to perform.
are all so excited, Okakok said about the trip when contacted
at his home in Barrow. We couldnt believe that this
was actually going to happen. He thinks the group is talented,
but he suspects that something else was afoot to get them chosen.
They probably got really excited when they saw that Eskimos
had applied, he said.
Inupiaq word suurimmanitchuat roughly translates to, I dont
give a damn, which was a word used in one of the first songs
they danced to around 1990. The group, which now has about 25 members,
didnt initially have a name when they formed, and so the community
began to call them the Suurimmanitchuats, which eventually stuck.
Eskimo humor, Okakok said.
asked what the group would look like and how they would dress, he
said, Not like Sarah Palin, and then he laughed.
Suurimmanitchuats are going to have to do some quick fund-raising
to get from Barrow to Washington. They have a place to stay when
they get there, but a search on Alaska Airlines website shows
tickets during that time running nearly $2,000.
Suurimmaanitchuats are no strangers to travel. Theyve been
as far away as China and were one of three Alaskan Native dance
groups invited to perform at the grand opening ceremony of the National
Museum of the American Indian in D.C.
dancers will join roughly a thousand other Alaskans who will head
to D.C. to be part of the ceremony. Thats as many tickets
as were allotted Alaskas congressional delegation.
to the celebration were in such demand that Senator-elect Mark Begichs
office received about 400 requests for them the day that Begich
won the election. Both Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen.-Elect Mark Begich
have held a lottery to decide who gets the tickets, which doesnt
get you a seat but a closer view of the ceremony.
Don Youngs office didnt immediately return a phone call
asking how he was going to divvy up the roughly 200 tickets given