• Masked rituals of the Kodiak Archipelago

      Desson, Dominique; Black, Lydia T.; Pierce, Richard A.; Schweitzer, Peter P.; Morrow, Phyllis; Leer, Jeff (1995)
      The traditional culture of the Alutiiq speakers of the Kodiak Archipelago is not well known, and information on their spiritual and ritual life has been lacking. In this thesis I use ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and iconographic materials to investigate the Koniag traditional world view and belief system and some aspects of the Koniag ritual system. Specifically, I analyze the individual, private masked rituals associated with whaling and the public masked rituals performed during the winter festivals. In the second part, I examine a large sample of surviving Alutiiq masks in order to determine aesthetic canons evident in the work of 19th and 20th century Koniag carvers. Visual preferences in mask making in terms of construction, volumes, shapes, colors, and designs are defined and differences in those preferences between the three Alutiiq speakers' groups of the Kodiak Archipelago, Prince William Sound, and the Alaska Peninsula are discussed.
    • Yuraryararput Kangiit-Llu: Our Ways Of Dance And Their Meanings

      John, Theresa Arevgaq; Barnhardt, Ray; Webster, Joan Parker (2010)
      The first purpose of this study is to describe the categories of dance. The second purpose is to describe how Yup'ik music and dance has played a functional role in organizing and maintaining various societal infrastructures (kinship, social, political, subsistence/economic, and spiritual) within the Yup'ik culture (Fienup-Riordan, 1996; John, 1996; Kingston, 1999; Mather, 1985; Wallen, 1990; Wolf, 1999). This study seeks to further understand this role and how it has evolved over time. The study utilizes an ethnographic methodology that includes historical and contemporary perspectives to describe Yup'ik music and dance categories and to explain how dance serves to organize various aspects of Yup'ik culture and societal infrastructure. Data includes interviews from Yup'ik elders and adults, fieldnotes, research journal entries, digital recordings, photographs, and observations of Yup'ik immersion school performers and rural community cultural events such as the Cama-i Festival. The study suggests that Yup'ik dance and categories are important elements of the multiple cyclic rituals. It adds to the present literature revealing that there are twenty different dance types and categories, and many of the rituals are lost except for the ciuqitet (common dances), nangerceciyaraq (the first dance), and iluriurucaraq (teasing dance) dances. The study also suggests that dancing is an essential part of the Yup'ik social infrastructure and that dancing is integral to the social system. This is demonstrated through six themes: Kinship, Physical/Mental Health, Form of Prayer, Spiritual Enlightenment, Leadership, and Teasing. I also argue that there is connectedness in dance, music, and stories that are part of our yuuyaraq (epistemic worldview). Yuuyaraq is defined as a way of being a human (Napoleon, 1991) or an absolute unified social web. This web is represented in our social infrastructures of kinship, health/physical and mental, form of prayer/rituals, spiritual enlightenment, leadership, and teasing. There is a relationship in storytelling genres in dance and oral stories that represent people's historical and contemporary accounts, describing their social, cultural, and subsistence lifestyle. Interview participant data suggest these connections still exist in our society today.