Alaska Pacific University hosts Indigenous performers

Alaska Pacific University.
Alaska Pacific University.
Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 9:00 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On Indigenous Peoples Day, Alaska Pacific University hosted a large celebration with dancing and singing, giving a platform for Native history and culture, and helping preserve that culture for the future.

“It is really important for our dance groups to come together and dance and sing and perform, especially for our next generation,” said Kristel Komakhuk with the university. “What you’ll see today, there are two different dance groups that actually have little kiddos in the group so it’s important for that generation to really learn and carry these practices and dance and songs into the future.”

It’s an important time for the youth, like Andrew Weaver, to be able to carry on the traditions that were taught to them.

“There’s a lot of speculation that our dances are going to be gone soon and us being pretty young, you know, we’re kind of the driving force to keep that from happening,” Weaver said.

He says it’s hard to keep traditions alive growing up in a city, but he isn’t going to let them die.

“So almost every single day I sit down in the living room and I sing, and I drum, and I also watch a lot of YouTube videos so that I can learn those songs and those dances. You know, kind of bring them back to life,” Weaver said.

And he isn’t the only one helping to keep Native culture alive. For 10 years, Steven Holley has been a leading a dance group called Ida’ina K’eljeshna, which performs a mix of brand new dances and some more than 1,000 years old.

“The knowledge of how to do it has really passed on with our elders, so these dances are ones that we’ve seen recordings of our elders doing or we made up ourselves just to be able to keep that tradition going, just to be able to express ourselves,” Holley said.

Holley says the next generation is going to know what the current generation knows, and as long as they keep their foundation strong and start to branch out into all the opportunities, they believe the next generation is going to be OK.

“It is important, that us gathering together, learning together, teaching each other what we know is something that’s very important,” Holley said. “It’s held in our traditions; it’s held in actually expressing them so it’s very important for us to do this.”

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