Yup’ik Dancing and Masks

When I start carving a mask, I always feel a sense of trepidation. A fear that I will make a mistake or finish one that doesn’t feel right. The fear doesn’t last however, it is soon replaced with a sensation of purpose and gratitude. In those moments, I feel my culture coming alive from the wood itself. As if it is speaking to me, letting me know carving is my contribution to keeping the Yup’ik culture thriving.

As I begin this project of carving masks and other artwork, I am reliving what our ancestors used to practice. Preparing masks that represent spirits of women or men long gone or various animals. Each one has their own meaning. Every wood chip and shaving comes closer to the story unfolding that represents the mask. When complete a spirit is born into the mask ready to be worn.

When worn by a dancer, the mask’s spirit embodies them to convey a message. They become the spirit’s messenger for all those present. The spirit answers the prayers of the audience as the ceremony of dancing unfolds. To everyone present during the dance, the spirit speaks to us personally to our souls and well-being as a people.

This mask in particular represents Nukallpiaq, or Great Hunter. Its spirit celebrates the hunters who provide for their loved ones year-round. Granting hunters to a successful harvest. Through the mask, providers will find themselves granted fortune for their hunts this year.

As I carve this mask, I am also thanking the spirit for providing everyone in this region successful hunting trips. The hunters have provided their families and friends much needed food. Food that will help sustain families throughout the year.

These days are all Happy and Free. These days are all share them with me oh baby. Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came. Here’s the story of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls. Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed – a poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed?

The first mate and his Skipper too will do their very best to make the others comfortable in their tropic island nest. Doin’ it our way. Nothin’s gonna turn us back now. Straight ahead and on the track now. We’re gonna make our dreams come true? It’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights. It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight. They’re creepy and they’re kooky mysterious and spooky. They’re all together ooky the Addams Family.

Come and knock on our door. We’ve been waiting for you. Where the kisses are hers and hers and his. Three’s company too. Makin’ your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. Takin’ a break from all your worries sure would help a lot! Movin’ on up to the east side. We finally got a piece of the pie. Movin’ on up to the east side. We finally got a piece of the pie. Movin’ on up to the east side. We finally got a piece of the pie.

All of them had hair of gold like their mother the youngest one in curls. Go Speed Racer. Go Speed Racer. Go Speed Racer go. So get a witch’s shawl on a broomstick you can crawl on. Were gonna pay a call on the Addams Family? Knight Rider: A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Here he comes Here comes Speed Racer. He’s a demon on wheels. In a freak mishap Ranger 3 and its pilot Captain William Buck Rogers are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life support systems and returns Buck Rogers to Earth five-hundred years later. It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Its a neighborly day in this beautywood a neighborly day for a beauty. Would you be mine? Could you be mine! Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale a tale of a fateful trip that started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship.

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