by Lonny Cruff
Nunapitchuk, AK – Students and staff of Anna Tobeluk Memorial School in Nunapitchuk welcomed community members as volunteers and mentors for several days of cultural activities at the school over two weeks in late March and April. There were a wide variety of activities for students of all ages and each day concluded with a school-wide yuraq (Eskimo dancing) led by community members Noah Wise and John Paul.
In addition to the “indoor” items that were made, students also had a chance to travel a short distance up river to manaq (go ice fishing), and the catch was given to elders when the group returned to the village. Another group built a traditional ikamralugpiaq (sled) that had been requested and paid for by a village resident. Out in the shop, students made an uluaq (knife) and carved a wooden handle to go with it. Indoors, students participated in sewing of cloth and skins, beading, native cooking, story knives, fish traps, and mask making.
Students appreciate the chance to work with local experts in traditional crafts, and the staff and teachers appreciate the help they get from experts in the village. Learning in a hands-on way is exciting for everyone!