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SELAWIK: Refuge Staff Help Celebrate Iñupiaq Days
Alaska Region, March 15, 2008
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Dianne Okleasik poses with a high school student in her newly completed atikluk. March 2008.
Dianne Okleasik poses with a high school student in her newly completed atikluk. March 2008. - Photo Credit: n/a
Elise Kahl helps teach students about the benefits of local medicinal plants. March 2008.
Elise Kahl helps teach students about the benefits of local medicinal plants. March 2008. - Photo Credit: n/a

With the beat of Eskimo drums reverberating through the hallways, students and community members in northwest Alaska gathered at Kotzebue High School in early March to learn and practice traditional Native skills and to celebrate being Iñupiat.  This two-day celebration, known as Iñupiaq Days, was timed to coincide with the regional 1A basketball tournament, making it possible for many village residents to attend. 

Numerous interesting workshops were available, including beading, skin sewing, winter survival, medicinal plants, Eskimo dancing, seal cutting, dog mushing, carving, Eskimo games, and the making of atikluks (summer dresses or parka covers), ulus (Eskimo knives), niksiks (fish hooks), akutuq (Eskimo ice cream), nets, and birch baskets.

Selawik Refuge staff Dianne Igluguq Okleasik and Elise Kahl contributed their talents to this important community event.  Dianne helped beginner seamstresses make their own atikluks, while Elise taught students about the wonders of local medicinal plants.  

Participating in events like this encourages communication, fosters partnerships, and creates a wonderful learning environment for staff and students alike. Not to mention it is also great fun!


Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov



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