Greetings from the Great White North: Winter celebrations heat up chilly nights

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Greetings from the Great White North: Winter celebrations heat up chilly nights… KEYWORDS: cultural gathering Alaskan Native Heritage Center December 18 events storytelling dance games alaskan native crafts trapping language Kicaput Dancers Fireweed Dancers Yup’ik language Cup’ik people Alaska Native dance ANHC Cultural Education Program Haida language Dena’ina Athabascan language classes Eskimo Doll Ornaments Athabascan Beading recreated Indian village Alaskan Native history culture traditions

Natives from all over the country are invited to enjoy the snow-covered
grounds of the Alaskan Native Heritage Center for programming that will highlight
fun and educational activities that traditional and contemporary Alaska Natives
experience. Winter Celebration is on December 18th from 10am to 5pm.

Programs will feature storytelling, dance and games. These activities would
traditionally be shared in a crowded community house during the long dark
winter months and were used as a physical outlet and as a way to teach youth many
important lessons. Outdoor activities will include snowshoeing, a
snowman-building contest and winter basketball. Winter Celebration is one of the continuing
series of Celebrating Culture Saturdays sponsored by BP, which presents a
unique cultural program each week.

There will be special performances by the Kicaput Dancers and Fireweed
Dancers. The Kicaput Dancers are an Anchorage based group formed in 1993.

The name Kicaput means “our anchor” in the Yup’ik language. The group
performs traditional songs of the Yup’ik and Cup’ik people. The Fireweed Dancers were
formed in May 2003 when a student shared a song with others and inspired them
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.

Peter Zaukar Sr. will be giving a special presentation on Native trapping.
Zaukar’s Native name is Akalria which means “rolls” or “to be rolled”. His
mother died when he was five years old and Peter and his siblings went to a BIA
school when they were not trapping. The home they shared was a one- room log
cabin 14 x 16 with a sod roof. Zaukar grew up in a life rich with tradition and
culture where they following a subsistence lifestyle year round. At the age of
14 Peter started a trap line and trapped for mink, marten, otter, wolf, fox,
beaver and muskrat. Zaukar will be sharing stories, trapping techniques and
demonstrations of different traps. Native trappers are known to travel many miles
with their dog teams during the winter checking their traps.

Matthew Nicolai will be sharing string stories. Nicolai was born in Bethel,
and raised in the village of Kwethluk. He is a graduate of Chemawa Indian
Boarding High School in Oregon and earned a B.A. in Economics from George
Washington University. Nicolai joined the Calista Corporation in 1976 and over 29 years
he has held various positions. In 1994, Nicolai accepted the appointment as
President of the Calista Corporation, which at the time had 57 employees in one
state. Today under his leadership, Calista Corporation has over 650 employees
in 25 states and Guam. Nicolai serves as President of the Anchorage East
Rotary Club, Director of the Alaska Federations of Natives, Director of the
Russian Orthodox Sacred Sites and served as Chairman of the Alaska Salvation Army
Board. Nicolai has served on the boards of Commonwealth North, Anchorage Chamber
of Commerce, Providence Foundation, Alaska Public Interest Research Group and
the Alaska Democratic Party.

American Red Cross will be giving a presentation on safe winter travel,
avalanche survival and national preparedness and response.

There will be 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 for the month of November and December will be Haida
with Lisa Lang and Tina Sanderson from 10am to 12pm, Dena’ina Athabascan with
Donita Peter from 12pm to 2pm and Inupiaq with Lydia Scott from 2pm to 4pm. Art
classes will be Eskimo Doll Ornaments with Eva Bryant from 11:00am to 1:30pm
and Athabascan Beading with Lily Teske from 2pm to 4:30pm. Dance classes will
be Southeast with William Jackson at 11:30am, 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. All classes are free with the price of admission to ANHC.

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.

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This article first appeared in the Native Times.