‘Cultural Week at Kingikmiut School in Wales’ by Amber “Attasiaq” Otton

In the Bering Strait School District (BSSD), fifty-four students from Wales, Golovin and Teller participated in a Cultural Week at Kingikmiut School in Wales, Alaska. This was the first time these small schools teamed up for this particular event, and it was a huge success.

As part of the activities, Norton Sound Health Corporation’s Behavioral Health Services Departments IÑUA & Native Connections lead Native Food Preparation, Ice Fishing Jig Making, and Drum Making.

The Kawerak Katirvik Cultural Center Director, Kunaq Tahbone, created salves with students out of traditional plants for medicines that are found around our region.

Kissaq Kingikmiuraguquat Language Group leaders, Jane and Richard Atuk, shared about their language work and did their first public reading of their Inupiaq children’s book Nunayaagviŋmi itut Uvlumini.

Kingikmiut Dance Group Leader, Robert Tokeinna, taught all the students a traditional native dance about “getting ready.” BSSD lead Native Name Plates, Landscape Acrylic Painting, ivory carving and skin sewing eskimo yo-yo’s.

The grand finale at the end of the cultural week displayed all the student projects for the community to view, then the Native food students prepared all week was served to the community in a large potluck. The evening ended with a whole group student performance of the dance they learned for the participants.

This was a powerful, healing ceremony that signified a rebirth and reawakening of Inupiaq language, dance, art, food, and cultural activities that rounded out the week with student feedback like “We should have cultural week every year!” and “Can Cultural Week be 3 weeks next time?” These schools hope to rotate hosting privileges so that all communities may experience what the community of Wales experienced that week. A huge Quyana to the Circle of Learning grant that supported this event!