Our traditional dances remain the lifeblood of our culture and our communities. They sustain us and connect us with our rich cultural history. Passed from generation to generation, our dances ensure that the many distinct Native cultures across Alaska remain connected to their origins. For over 35 years, Alaska Natives have come together in dance to celebrate Quyana Alaska during the annual AFN Convention.
First introduced at the 1982 AFN Convention, Quyana Alaska was initially introduced as a ‘thank you’ from AFN to Alaskans statewide for supporting the Native community in a pro-subsistence vote. ‘Quyana’ means ‘thank you’ in Yup’ik. Through the years, this cultural celebration has helped restore our traditional dances and ensure they are passed onto future generations. Quyana Alaska has expanded to two evenings featuring 14 groups from across the state. In all, more than 200 different dance groups have performed.The cultural revival has certainly exploded across rural Alaska, and Quyana Alaska is now a treasured highlight of each and every Convention.
The AFN Convention and Quyana 1 and 2 are broadcast live on gavel-to-gavel television on GCI Channel 907 and Internet. The broadcasts reach thousands of remote communities throughout Alaska and through the Internet, around the world. Estimated audience ranges from 10,000 – 40,000 viewers during primetime.
Thursday, October 17, 2019
7:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Carlson Center, Fairbanks
This year Lorraine Cakataar Tom was named both Miss Cama-i and Miss Weio 2019. Lorraine’s maternal grandparents are Pete and Maggie Tom and her paternal grandparents are David and Maria Erik. Her father’s name is Kenneth Erik and her mother’s name is Sharon Tom. Lorraine is from Chefornak and lives in Bethel. She was raised by her maternal grandparents. In her spare time, Lorraine loves to sew skin Piluuguqs (booties) and making other Native crafts such as dance fans. Lorraine loves outdoor activities. She also enjoys cutting fish and preparing and eating Native foods.
The Di’haii Gwich’in Dancers were formed in 2006 by Kenneth Frank of Venetie. He formed the group with his family to help keep the spirit of the ancestor's songs and dances strong for future generations. The goal of the dance group has been to teach younger generations of Gwich’in people the songs and dances taught to Kenneth by the Elders of Arctic Village and Venetie. The purpose of the songs and dances are to tell a story through motions and melodies accompanied by a sacred drum.
The Pavva Iñupiaq Dancers are residents of the Fairbanks area, and the group was formed to preserve the culture and traditions of the Iñupiaq peoples through song and dance. The name "Pavva," in Iñupiaq means 'away from shore, landwards, toward the mountain.' The group chose this name because they live away from the Northern region where their parents and grandparents originally lived. Although most of the Iñupiaq people in Fairbanks may have danced with family or other dance groups, they formed the Iñupiaq dance group in 1999 to be able to share dances, to learn from one another, and to perform for others.
Educators, administrators, students, and many others from infants to Elders make up the Pavva Iñupiaq Dancers. They perform to insure that the general public is educated about the culture, traditions and heritage of our Iñupiaq people. Sharing is a one of our Iñupiaq values when we teach dancing as part of our culture. We try to incorporate all the Native values in our practices and performances.
The group is growing to meet the desire to learn and preserve the Iñupiaq values and traditions. Sharing of songs and dances reflect the culture, traditions and heritage the Iñupiaq people passed down from generation to generation. Asiqluq, our group leader has created songs and dances for us to perform, and we have performed shared dances from Yup’ik and Iñupiaq groups.
We are the Minto Dance Group. Minto is a Lower-Tanana Athabascan village located 30 miles northwest of Fairbanks. For countless centuries, the people of Minto have lived and subsisted on the Minto Flats in the Interior of Alaska. Minto was originally located on the banks of the Tanana River but moved to its current location in the 1970s due to flooding. Minto is accessible by road, boat, or air.
Although Minto people currently live in various locations throughout Alaska and the Lower 48, our traditions are still strong and keep us connected to each other. We all grew up learning our songs and dances, including the old memorial songs called Dra’ta’chalee,’ thanks to all of our Elders—past and present—who took the time to teach us, guide us and show us what to do.
Our group of dancers that we have now are composed of the people who live in and outside of Minto. We all work together to practice our songs and dances, learning and teaching each other so that we can share with all of you. We love being able to share our songs and dances with you. Ana Basee’—Thank You Very Much.
Our group was formed in 1998, and consists of Elders, adults, young adults, young children, including babies. We are from Anaktuvuk Pass, 250 air miles north of Fairbanks right on the Brooks Range. We live on caribou all year around and also have sheep and fish.
Dlul Hutaneets Hut’aane Ch’egedelee is the Koyukon name of our traditional dance group, which translates in English to “Rampart People are Singing.” During the Gold Rush Era in the early 1900s, Rampart was listed as the second largest city in Alaska with a population of over 10,000 residents. At that time, the Native village was located across the Yukon River from the current location of Rampart.
We are a young dance group. Rampart didn’t have a traditional dance group for over 100 years. We have 100% participation of the students at Rampart School which recently reopened after a 15 year closure. Today, we have a local store and many programs serving our tribal members. Some of the songs are older songs that we have learned from the songs and legends collection at the UAF Archives, and some of the songs are songs we made for Rampart.
We are a traditional Koyukon Athabascan dance group from the interior. We enjoy sharing our cultural values through song and dance. We look forward to this opportunity to share as well as have others share with us.
Ovluaq Dance Group was organized and renamed after the late Warren Matumeak, in honour of his dedicated selfless work in keeping Eskimo dance alive in his family. Originally, the group was named Suurimaanitchuat, under the direction of Warren Matumeak and Walter Akpik Sr. Together, they created multiple songs and dances from their hunting experiences.
Friday, October 18, 2019
7:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Carlson Center, Fairbanks
Alice Qannik Glenn is an Iñupiaq born and raised in Utqiaġvik, Alaska. She hosts and produces her own podcast show called Coffee & Quaq: a podcast to celebrate and explore contemporary Native life in urban Alaska. Her episodes play on KRFF 89.1 FM Voice of Denali, KONR-LP Out North Radio, and KBRW 680 AM/FM and her work has been featured in Alaska Magazine, Anchorage Daily News, AK Humanities FORUM Magazine, CBC Unreserved Radio, and more.
Her past experiences include working as a Momentum Program Fellow at Rasmuson Foundation, an Environmental Specialist with UMIAQ Environmental, and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation Federal externship program at the Kennedy and Johnson Space Centers.
She received her bachelor’s degree in aerospace studies from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2014. Alice enjoys diversifying her career path and is passionate about providing accurate and authentic Alaska Native representation in media.
*Photo Credit: Serine Reeves
Eric Reimers currently works as a Policy Coordinator with the Alaska Native Health Board. He previously worked for Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) as a Legislative Correspondent and Staff Assistant. Eric earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alaska-Anchorage (UAA), and also took part in the Native American Political Leadership Program (NAPLP) at the George Washington University (GWU). While at GWU, he was also a Legislative Intern for the House Committee on Natural Resources. Eric is originally from Iliamna, Alaska, where he is an enrolled member in the Native Village of Iliamna, as well as a shareholder in Iliamna Natives Limited (INL) and the Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC). He was brought up commercial, subsistence and sports fishing with his parents and grandparents in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. Eric is Yup'ik, Dena'ina Athabascan, and German.
Manley Hot Springs traditionally spoken in Koyukon Athabascan is Too Naaleł Denh. The group encompasses folks who reside in Fairbanks and Manley Hot Springs and share the geographic commonality of a place they can all call home: Manley Hot Springs. Our group has Athabascan, Inupiaq and non-Native representatives. We will dance in remembrance of the late Judy Woods and late Mrs. Gladys Dart respectively and with great honor.
Mrs. Judith Florence Woods was fluent Koyukon Athabascan speaker and lived the traditional way of life. Mrs. Gladys Dart was an educator since territorial times and is the namesake for the Gladys Dart School today. We honor this friendship, because these two Elders who at an early age in their lives saw no color when it came to teaching traditional songs and language. They encouraged each other to be their true authentic selves, respected each other’s differences and saw beauty in learning from each other, and that is unity’s truest fashion.
The Iñu-Yupiaq Dance Group started in 1995. It was founded as a place for Iñupiaq and Yup'ik students attending UAF to continue traditional forms of cultural expression through motion dancing. Now, contemporary and heritage songs from all corners of Alaska are danced at group practices, and many songs were created by members during their time at UAF. The group provides a positive atmosphere for students who are often homesick and an opportunity for them to practice their culture. The Iñu-Yupiaq Dance Group performs at local schools and leads dance workshops throughout the year, many involving youth. Finally, the group provides networking between more experienced individuals that are further along in their academic careers and youth starting their educational journey. Today, the tradition carries on as students from many different backgrounds come and go, and their repertoire lives through the songs they practice.
Many great singers, song makers, song keepers and dancers have come from Tanana. The traditional name of Tanana is Nuchalawoyya, which translates to ‘where the two rivers meet.’ Nuchalawoyya was a meeting place for tribes up and down the Yukon and Tanana Rivers and their tributaries. It was considered neutral ground, and a place where important meetings and trading occurred.
Traditional singing and dancing were always a part of every gathering and meeting. There were many different reasons to sing and dance such as celebrations, potlatches, meetings, and gatherings. Most of our song makers and Elders are no longer with us so it is up to this generation to keep the traditional songs and dances alive and teach future generations our beautiful culture.
Tanana still holds a traditional Nuchalawoyya celebration every other June that mimics what our ancestors did for thousands of years. Everyone is invited to Tanana for the Nuchalawoyya celebration the second week of June 2020.
The Taģiuģmiut Dancers were formed in 2007 under the leadership of Vernon Elavgak. The songs we sing came from a recording done in Barrow in 1946. Some of those songs weren't heard for more than 50 years. Our dance group took first place in the dance competition at WEIO on our first debut in 2007. We strive to keep the culture and traditions alive by teaching the younger generation even though we are young ourselves. We have performed for the many celebrations in our home town. We've also traveled to Canada to perform in their Northern Games, we've also performed in Kotzebue at the Trade Fair.
The JOM Potlatch Dancers began in 1991 and have performed at many events that occur in the Fairbanks area. They represent many Native communities statewide and are students in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. Their age ranges from 5 to 18 years and are in grades Kindergarten through the 12th grade.
This year’s dance group members have family ties to the communities of Allakaket, Barrow, Bethel, Circle, Fort Yukon, Galena, Hughes, Huslia, Kaltag, Kalskag, Kotzebue, Koyukuk, McGrath, Mentasta, Minto, Nenana, Nikolai, Nulato, Point Lay, Rampart, Ruby, Stevens Village, and Tanana. They represent the Inupiaq, Yupik Eskimo, upper Kuskokwim, Ahtna, Gwitchin, Koyukon and Tanaina Athabascans.
The majority of the members are in their fifth year of learning to sing and dance in a Native dance group. They have a great love and respect for their heritage and culture. Their biggest achievements are learning to introduce themselves in Denaakk’e (Koyukon Athabascan language) and learning to sing, Sweet By and By in the Stevens Village dialect. They are a resilient and awesome group of students who study and practice what they are learning during the school year.
The Kodiak Alutiiq Dancers were formed in 1987 and continue to learn and share about their Alutiiq ancestral heritage and increase pride by reawakening their dance traditions. This group has been bringing back lost traditions, by creating more diverse Alutiiq dresses, hats, bags, rattles, and other dance and ceremonial items. They learned the few remaining traditional Alutiiq songs, and have become songwriters, to keep the tradition of song and dance alive! Dancing our Stories; Living our Culture
Tikigaqmiut meaning the people of Tikigaq have performed in various gatherings in the State of Alaska. In 1992, we were invited to Amsterdam, it was an honor to travel and perform for our community. We have placed first in different competitions within the state of Alaska. We will continue the dances that were passed down to us from our great ancestors. Our dances evolve around the Bowhead Whale and many of our animals that provide for our way of life to sustain us as Inupiat of Tikigaqmiut.