Cama-i honors given to beloved elders, volunteers

Our Living Treasures: Raphael and Vivian Jimmy receive their award from Cama-i co-coordinator Linda Curda.

by Greg Lincoln

The 2017 Cama-i Festival shall live on in our memories as another wonderful page in the history of our great land.

Thank you Linda Curda, for this great gift you have given the delta. And to your staff, your faithful and hardworking army of volunteers we give thanks, quyana. We would not have a festival without your help and planning.

This year several folks were given special recognition at Cama-i.

Beloved elders Angaraq Raphael and Angalgaan Vivian Jimmy of Mountain Village are this year’s Living Treasures. Raphael is 92 years old and together they have been married for 69 years.

“You teach and inspire us through the Yup’ik way of life,” said Curda while presenting their award on stage during opening night. “Thank you for generously giving your time to teach the younger generation the songs and dances of our elders.”

Vivian said that she was a little shy but she gave a short speech to show her gratitude after Raphael gave his speech.

“Takaryung’erma qanqertua. Caperrnarqengraan una yuucirput atauciuguq. Aturluku pinarqukut ciuliamta alerquutait aturluki. Yuk tamalkuan qaill’ ayuqengraan kenekluku,” she said. “Our lives may be hard but we are given this gift of life, this one life. It is our duty to live following the ways of our elders and their teachings. And to always love – love others, no matter who they are or how they may be.”

Also on opening night was the Cama-i Dedication. This year the festival was dedicated to Paniqkaq Joe Phillip and Arnaucuaq Barbara Joe of Alakanuk. The Alakanuk Dancers gathered on stage to accept the dedication plaque in their honor.

“They made many songs, yuarutnek,” said Marty Hanson who performed with the Alakanuk dancers. “Our great elders and our teachers.” Arnaucuaq Barbara Joe also made many of the dance belts worn by the ladies and the regalia.

A Cama-i Honors award was given to Arnaq Marie Meade for her lifework as a culture bearer for the Yup’ik way of life.

And special recognition was bestowed upon Carol Ann Willard for her many years of dedication to the Cama-i Festival. Carol Ann has worked alongside Linda as co-coordinator. She has also been taking care of the Native Foods Dinner held each year at the Cama-i Festival. Her and her crew of cooks and helpers have been feeding guests year after year at the amazing feast, quyana cakneq for your service!

Please visit our website at to view photos and videos from this year’s festival! Quyana.