Inupiat Eskimos of the Last Frontier<br />“How many songs I own, I cannot say. I have not kept count of them. I merely know I have many, and that everything in me is song. I sing as I draw breath.” (Quote from a passage from Knud Rasmussen.)<br />This photo is of my sister-in-law’s paternal grandparents. We are unsure of when the photo was taken. <br />
People of The Arctic Circle<br /> The Inuit people of the north slope region of Alaska are believed to have migrated to this area from Siberian. Inupiat is a language with different dialects, one of which is Inupiaq and the other Inuit. <br /> Inupiaq is the primary language spoken by the native Alaskan population of the North Slope region of Alaska. <br />The map above shows the various regions of Alaska and the languages spoken by the natives in the region.<br />
Researchers of the People of The Arctic Circle<br /> Many studies of the Inupiat Eskimos were conducted during the 19th century. One of the main resources for this project was a book by Ernest Burch Jr. He has written three volumes that cover the lives of the Inupiaq nations and their interactions with the westerners. The first period of study was 1800 through 1848. After that time frame the interactions between westerners and the Alaskan Natives increased significantly due to the arrival of whaling ships and the arrival of the British navy ships. His extensive research combined with various other colleagues gives us his third and final volume, Social Life in Northwest Alaska: The Structure of the Inupiaq Eskimo. <br /> The combined work of Ernest Burch and Lorraine Koranda documents numerous facets of the lifestyles of Eskimos in Northwestern Alaska. Lorraine Koranda decided to focus her essay on the Alaskan Eskimos in the arctic region and along the northwestern coast. Her essay documents the sounds, vocals, instruments, dress regalia and various festivals used and observed by this group of people. Her work in documenting the music and culture have provided extraordinary material for this project. Some of these examples are displayed in the following slides. These individuals discuss numerous songs, dances, rituals, and festivals that were an integral part of the Inupiaq world. <br />
The People of The Arctic Circle<br /> When researchers first came to Alaska the Inupiaq population was spread across a vast area. Otto von Kotzebue visited the area in 1816 and described them as follows:<br />(Burch, 3)<br /> This imagine has obviously changed over the past 100 years. Most Inupiaq Eskimos now wear clothes just like you and me. They have grocery stores, but still rely heavily on subsistence to survive. <br /> Their music and heritage are more important now then ever before, especially if they hope to keep it alive in the youth of today. Many groups exist today whose main focus is the keep their heritage alive in their youth. <br />
The Music <br />Songs were often composed by an individual person.<br />Songs were composed for a variety of reasons. Some of these are:<br />An accompaniment for a dance,<br />Celebration of a successful hunt,<br />As entertainment while doing a boring job<br />An accompaniment for games<br />Songs are sung in unison by male and female voices combining for vocals. <br />Songs used for dancing were typically no more than thirty measures. <br />Songs used for purposes other than dancing were usually shorter than thirty measures.<br />The melody was often “based on a scale possessing five main tones (DEGAC ascending), with microtonal inflections.” (Burch, 361)<br />“The preferred voice quality for public performance is strident, loud, harsh, and without obvious variation in dynamic levels except for stress or accent.” (Korranda, 353)<br />
The Music <br /> This piece is one example of a song recorded by Lorraine Korranda during her research on the Alaskan Eskimos. This song was a Box Drum Song collected in Kotzebue, Alaska. The piece shows the drum part on the line directly above the staff, while the vocals are listed under the staff as is done with other forms of music. <br /> (Koranda, 342)<br />
The Music <br />This piece is another example of a song recorded by Lorraine Korranda during her research on the Alaskan Eskimos. The round drum was used in this piece as indicated by number 6. <br />(Koranda, 343)<br />
Festivals of the Inupiat People<br />Kivgiq – This festival is typically held every other year in January or February. The mayor of the North Slope Borough is responsible for calling for the festival. Kivgiq is an international event which attracts visitors from around the Arctic Circle. <br />Thanksgiving Community Feast – held as a community potlatch to distribute food to the community around Thanksgiving<br />Christmas Community Feast - held as a community potlatch to distribute food to the community around Christmas.<br />Nalukataq – Spring Whaling Festival<br />Bladder Festival – honors the spirits of sea mammals harvested<br />
Festivals of the Inupiat People - “Nalukatak”<br /><ul><li>Nalukataq means ‘blanket toss’.
This festival is a festival held after spring whaling. If no whales are harvested there is no festival.
The festivals were arranged and given by the successful whaling captains or ‘umialik’ and his family.
A primary purpose of nalukatak was to make peace with “the deceased whales and ensure through magical means the success of future hunting seasons.” (Chance)
Because of the change from shamanism to Christianity more current practices use prayers which are recited during the ceremony . </li></li></ul><li>Festivals of the Inupiat People - “Nalukatak”<br /><ul><li>Click the following links to view videos from the blanket toss. </li></ul>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz54VcSADjk<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10bRW7Pigm0<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIE0G46GkWs<br /><ul><li>A dance is typically scheduled during an afternoon or evening.
The dance begins with the umialik, his wife and the crew.
Other crew members took turns following the umialik.
Other members of the village joined in as time went on. </li></li></ul><li>Festivals of the Inupiat People - The Festival of Kivgiq<br /> This is a short synopsis of the full story. The full text of the following story can be viewed at the following website: http://www.nativetech.org/inupiat/pullinginnewyearbody.html<br /> There was an Inupiaq couple who lived along the northern coast of the Arctic slope. They had wished for children and finally the woman became pregnant. They had a son who grew to become a successful hunter just like his father. One day he wandered off to the mountains in the distance and never returned. Then the woman became pregnant again. They once again had a son, who grew to become a successful hunter just like his brother before him. He too wandered off into the mountains nearby and never returned. Finally they became pregnant again and had a third son. This son learned the techniques even quicker than his brothers before him. He also had the urge to travel about, but his parents warned him of his brothers and that they never returned. While he was out hunting one day he saw a large bird flying towards him. The bird landed in front of him, removed his hood, and transformed into a young man. He explained to the third son that he had killed his two brothers because they would not agree to travel with him to his home to learn about a songfeast called Kivgiq and then teach it to other humans. The third son agree to travel with the Eagle man. He climbed on the bird’s back and they traveled to the Eagle Man’s home where Eagle Mother was waiting. <br /> When they arrived near Eagle Man’s home the third son could hear a beating sound. As they moved closer to the house the sound got louder and louder. Eagle Man explained that the sound was the heartbeat of Eagle Mother. Eagle Mother taught the third son how to make a qarji (house for celebration and dancing), a kissautaq (round drum) , and a Kalukaq (drum made from wood). She then taught him how to put words into songs, how to beat the drum as they sang and how to dance. There was a distinct difference between the dancing of a man (strong stomping and clenched fists) and a woman (dance like a flying eagle). <br /> After the third son had learned all there was to learn they took him back to where he found Eagle Man. The son returned home and immediately started teaching his parents about each of the items he learned from Eagle Mother. They worked hard to prepare the gifts, the meals, and the songs. Then the third son traveled afar to invite people to their first Kivqig. He found many people during his travel and they all gathered in the qarji. They ate, danced and song with delight. <br /> It is from this story that we find that the sound of the drum used by the Inupiaq people is supposed to be like the beating heart of Eagle Mother, strong and bold.<br />
Festivals of the Inupiat PeopleThe Festival of Kivgiq<br />Click the following link to view a video from Kivgiq 2009.<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOnO1_XoqaU<br />In this video you will see an example of the paddle movement and eating. <br />
The Different Types of Dance<br />According to Ernest Burch’s data there were “two major sets of distinctions in Inupiaq dance styles.” (Burch, 359)<br />These two distinctions are:<br /><ul><li>The difference between male and female dancers.
Male dancers portrayed strength, masculinity, and moved about the dance floor.
Female dancers portrayed grace with swaying movements with their arms, while they stood in one place bending their knees. They often look down as though they are similar to Eagle Mother flying over an area. </li></ul>The following quote is from Ernest Burch’s book. The dance was observed by F.W. Beechey who spent a considerable amount of time researching this group. He was watching a traveling group of Inupiats on Eschscholtz Bay. He states “A simple little girl about eight years of age, dressed for the occasion, joined the jumpers, but did not imitate their actions. Her part consisted of waving her arms and inclining her body from side to side. The poor little thing was so abashed that she did not even lift her head or open her eyes during the whole of her performance…(F. Beechey 1831, I:395-96). Mr. Burch points out in the next paragraph of his book that what Mr. Beechey didn’t realize is the girl wasn’t being shy, “but was dancing in the female style, which was very different from that of males.” (Burch, 358)<br /><ul><li>The difference between fixed and synchronized (sayuun) or improvised motions (atuutipiaq.)
Known in more recent years as an invitational dance</li></li></ul><li>The Different Types of Dance<br /><ul><li> Dances that imitate daily activities such as hunting, gathering, or cooking are called “Acting Dances” in Barrow and Wainwright or “Motion Dances” from Point Hope and south.
Song are considered ceremonial or for purposes of entertainment only.
Dancers never touch each other or dance close together.
“Amused by Western dance styles, they often include in their contemporary dance programs satirical imitations of ballroom dancing-without touching their partners.” (Burch, 349) This is similar to other cultures we have reviewed throughout the course, whereas they use their avenues in music to mimic or make fun of other cultures.</li></ul>Each festival typically had a dance specific to it. A few examples of other dances are:<br /><ul><li>Maglak: Giving Dance – individuals give each other gifts, while attempting to outdo each other.
Uuliavik: Dance that involves one woman and two men. The premise of the dance is that one man is trying to take the woman away from the other.
Qirgiq: Wolf Dance</li></li></ul><li>The Different Types of Dance<br />Four Iñupiaq men (center) wear dance mittens during a Wolf Dance. <br />Photo courtesy of the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, B85.27.2375.<br />
Movements in Dances<br />“Dance movements each possess a special significance known to all, and in new dances the vocabulary of motions was re-arranged to form intelligible pictorializations and representations of events.” (Burch, 359)<br />Various movements are utilized in the dances of the Inuit/Inupiat Eskimo. Throughout the dance the movements of the dancer tell the story. The following are just a few of the items I was able to identify in the video contained later in this presentation.<br /><ul><li> Facing Destiny: One arm outstretched and diagonal with a palm upwards. The other arm is cocked with the hand close to the chest; both hands are straight. Alternate outstretched arms/hands and combine with forward motion. Maintain beat in arms or hands.
Stalking: Leading forward with one side of the body on a diagonal, one arm outstretched and attention/eyes focused on imagined prey.
Story Traveling: One hand extended forward in a specific direction, pointing.
Paddle: Arms cocked in front of the body, hands shaped as if holding a paddle, movement to either side of the body. Paddle with the beat.</li></ul> The remainder of the items can be viewed at the following website: http://www.uaf.edu/theatre/litooma/intro.html<br />The information regarding movements on this slide were acquired from the following website: http://www.uaf.edu/theatre/litooma/intro.html<br />
The Instruments of the Inupiat<br />While other cultures instruments have evolved the Alaska Natives have maintained their simple instruments which are hand-held tambourine-type drum, called keylowtick, kissautqaq or qilaun and the box drum, called kaylukuk.<br />Photos courtesy of http://www.alaska-in-pictures.com/data/media/21/inupiaq-eskimo-drummers_2105.jpg<br />
The Instruments of the Inupiat<br />Keylowtick / Kissautqaq / Qilaun – Round Drum<br />Frame<br /> The frame of the drum is typically made of a thin strip of wood approximately 60 to 80 inches in length. The wood is soaked and formed into a ring. The handle is made from bone, ivory, or antler that is 4-to-6 inches in length. <br />Photos courtesy of the Sheldon Jackson Museum (http://www.museums.state.ak.us/documents/sjm/artifacts/june-2007.pdf)<br />
The Instruments of the Inupiat<br />Keylowtick / Kissautqaq / Qilaun – Round Drum<br />Photos courtesy of the Sheldon Jackson Museum (http://www.museums.state.ak.us/documents/sjm/artifacts/june-2007.pdf)<br />Skin <br /> The skin typically comes from an animal typically harvested by the Inupiat families. The skin might come from a walrus stomach, the lining of a caribou or seal intestine, or the membrane of a bowhead whale liver. The item is moistened and then stretched over the wood frame. The skin is held in place by braided sinew. <br />Photos courtesy of the Burke Museum https://www.washington.edu/burkemuseum/collections/ethnology/collections/display.php?ID=44739)<br />
The Instruments of the Inupiat<br />Box Drum – “Kaylukuk”<br /> This photo shows the box drum. This drum is constructed with open ends on the top and bottom. Two of the sides have five points on them. A design is usually painted around the edge on the top side of the drum. Feathers are often used as decoration, in addition to eagle claws or baleen lacings. The drum is suspended on a tripod or from the ceiling of the qargi. The drum was used primarily in the Messenger Feast ceremony during the 19th century, but many dance groups have used them during concert performances in more recent times. <br />
The Instruments of the Inupiat<br />“Kissautqaq” or “Qilaun” – Round Drum<br /> The photo in the lower right corner shows a close-up of the handle on the drum from the previous slide. We can see that the handle is made from a piece of bone or antler. The drum handle below appears to be from ivory. The handle in the upper right corner looks to be made from bone. <br />Photos courtesy of the Burke Museum https://www.washington.edu/burkemuseum/collections/ethnology/collections/display.php?ID=44739)<br />
The Dress of Dance Groups<br /> Male and female dancers/singers wear mukluks, pants of similar color and atiluks during performances. They usually wear formal dance attire during performances, but will wear casual day-to-day clothing for impromptu get-togethers or practices. The atiluk is hand made by members of the village. Many of the dance groups from this region tend to wear one color to identify themselves with their group.<br /> The male atiluk is similar to that of a handmade parka worn by many of the Alaska natives on the North Slope. It is adorned with stitching and trim. The women’s atiluks are adorned with a skirt around the bottom and trim. Dancers are usually seen wearing gloves on their hands. Some wear head dresses and other regalia. The younger dancers often wear their atiluks or kuspuk (parka) when they dance, though it may not match the adult dancers.<br />Top: The SuurimmaanitchuatDancers were the only native Alaskan group invited to march in the inauguration parade for President Barack Obama. Photo courtesy of www.flickr.com/photos/inauguration/3174701832/<br />
The Dress of Dance Groups<br />This photo was recently taken at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Anchorage, Alaska. This is one of the members of the SuurimmaanitchuatDancers featured on the prevous slide. The Inupiat’s enjoy a bit of fun and games, just like the other cultures in America. <br />
The Dress of Dance Groups<br />Frederick Brower of the Barrow Dancers dancing during Kivgiq, a mid-winter celebration that was revived in the late 1980s. Photo by Luciana Whitaker-Aikins.<br />http://www.nativetech.org/inupiat/pullinginnewyearbody.html<br /> Throughout the various photos and videos incorporated in this presentation you will notice that most of the dancers are wearing either dance regalia mitts, such as the photo on this slide, or cotton or wool mittens. The Inupiaq nations do not know exactly where this tradition started, but figure since the ceremonial dances were conducted for the “purpose of pleasing the spirits, covering the hands that did menial tasks and which might touch ritual paraphernalia was required.” (Koranda, 349) <br />
Performances of the Inupiat<br />The following links provide examples of the Inupiat Eskimos’ music and dance:<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsSbxw8AXrE&feature=related<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBowRKM8Kf4<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BVeQbgp3yQ<br />And even the youngest are learning the history of their people…<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdOCeuijJe4<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sovThLOJTdM <br />This performance is especially cute as the author mentions it’s difficult for a three-year-olds to “dance, sing and stomp at the same time.” This video was taken in the Early Childhood Education wing at Ipalook Elementary school in Barrow, Alaska. They start children in this half day program when they are three years old. My daughter attended school for two years in this program and they often taught them the songs and dance of the Inupiat culture. <br />
Bibliography<br />Burch, Ernest S. Social life in northwest Alaska: the structure of Iñupiaq Eskimo nations. Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2006. <br />Koranda, Lorraine D. “Music of the Alaskan Eskimo." Musicsof Many Cultures: an Introduction. Ed. May, Elizabeth.Berkeley: University of California, 1980. <br />Chance, Norman A. The Inupiat and Arctic Alaska(1990), Harcourt Brace.<br />Stackhouse, Martha “The Sacred Gift of Song, Dance and Festivity.” http://www.nativetech.org/inupiat/pullinginnewyearbody.html ,1996.<br />