by Linda Curda
In the Yup’ik culture, we embrace each other with a warm and welcoming greeting by offering a hand to shake accompanied by the exclamation, “Cama-i!” It is in that same spirit that I address you today.
For generations, Bethel’s very own festival celebrating Native dance has entertained tens of thousands of us who live in this region, and around the globe.
The Cama-i Dance Festival, modeled after the Yup’ik Tradition of winter dance gatherings, boasts three full days of dance, laughter, and warm celebration.
It serves as the highlight of Southwest Alaska’s dark, cold, and long winter.
The theme for this year’s festival is “Yurarturciqukut ~ Resilience Through Dance”. It was inspired by Nightmute, Alaska’s very own Albertina Dull, this year’s Living Treasure.
At over a century in age, Albertina continues to build a legacy of “The Way of Authenticity.” We are proud to recognize and honor her exemplary service to her community and this region.
This last April, after COVID-19 caused a global shut down, The Delta Discovery published an article with excerpts from an interview with Albertina Dull about living through the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. Ms. Dull is, indeed, a Living Treasure.
Toksook Bay photographer Jimmie Lincoln captured an image of Albertina performing at a recent dance festival on Nelson Island that graces this year’s event poster.
Merchandise featuring a logo designed by the incredibly talented local artist Maria Nicolai is available for purchase at the Kuskokwim Arts Guild gift shop in the Cultural Center. Call 543-4585 to schedule an appointment to purchase the merchandise.
Surviving a global pandemic requires us to make decisions that ensure the preservation of the health of humanity. Human beings are a social creature. Our authenticity depends upon the way we strive to serve each other, and our entire world.
Our deeply rooted desire and yearning to come together to celebrate our lives makes this situation even more difficult, but we know social distancing is the right thing to do.
Doing the right thing includes postponing our annual festival a few more years, until it is safe for us to gather again. Our initial plan is to hold a festival in a year and a half from now, in spring of 2022. Until then, please stay tuned for more videos and communication, including the honoring of our Living Treasure, Albertina Dull.
Our next festival will celebrate the true perseverance of resilient, healthy, and vibrant people.
Linda Curda is the Co-Coordinator for the Cama-i Festival, the YK Delta’s premier celebration of dance, culture, song and art.