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Wales’ Song and Dance

Alaska Native dancing inside the Wales gymnasium

“It was amazing to see this very unique form of emotional, cultural, artistic expression that is Alaska Native dancing. It’s very visceral. There’s drumming, ritualistic singing, and beautiful, restrained but powerfully intentional dancing with a very earthen solidarity to it.”

Volunteer reporter Gabe Colombo thus described the 18th Annual Kingikmiut Dance Festival: a 3-day celebration of Native dance, family, and tradition. The gathering is one of the largest annual dance festivals in the state. Thanks to a partnership with a regional bush airline, Gabe attended the multi-community event in Wales for free.

Leaving the festival at 2 a.m. and walking to his lodging, Gabe describes a poignant moment: seeing “unexpected green ribbons dancing in the starry sky. Realizing this was the northern lights, it completely caught me off guard. That’s the reason it was so beautiful… That’s a normal thing for Western Alaska — to have these amazingly beautiful things just crop up on you. I almost started to cry because I felt so moved by where I was, the people surrounding me, and the beautiful intertwining of culture and landscape.”

Image at top: One of many performances at the 2017 Kingikmiut Dance Festival in Wales. Photo: Gabe Colombo, KNOM.


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