Yup’ik dance groups to perform at Festival of Native Arts in FairbanksYup’ik dance groups to 

The Qasgirmiut Yuraq Group of Bethel gather for a photo after practice last week.

The Qasgirmiut of Bethel, the Qaluyaarmiut Yurartait of Toksook Bay, the Cupiit Yurartait, and the Pingayak Dancers will be some of the featured dance groups in Fairbanks at the Festival of Native Arts, which has returned as an in-person celebration Feb. 24-25 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Davis Concert Hall. The student-led event showcases Native culture through dance, music and arts.

This year’s celebration includes two evenings of live performances, vendors and workshops.

Performances begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, and at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. All events are free and open to the public.

The Qasgirmiut will be performing on Saturday, February 25th.

The 2023 theme, “Revitalize and Rise,” highlights the festival gathering in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“As we reunite and reinvigorate the practice of coming together once more,” said student coordinator Lou Yur’acung’ Frenzl, “[we] greet each other with smiles, laughter, handshakes, high-fives and hugs, and the determination to keep doing what it takes to create a healthy, vibrant Indigenous community.”

This year’s festival is dedicated to the memory of the late Jenny Bell-Jones, emeritus professor and chair of the UAF Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development. Bell-Jones mentored and advised countless students and demonstrated a special ability to reach out to and connect with nontraditional students. She was a dedicated festival volunteer.

Alaska Native students established the festival in 1973 to share their lives and culture with each other, the campus and the Fairbanks community. It has since expanded to include Native culture groups from the continental United States and countries such as Japan, Russia and Canada. Student volunteers spend the school year planning and organizing the event.

Visit the festival website for more information and a schedule of events.