1999–The largest Festival of Native Arts is held in the University of Alaska Fairbanks Davis Concert Hall, drawing up to 4,500 people. The gathering is promoted heavily throughout the state because it is the largest such gathering of the century. Feathered on this day for the first time ever is Native performance art, done by Paulette Moreno of Anchorage. The festival theme is “Dancing Our Stories.” It illustrates traditional ideas behind Alaska Native performance art and features 26 dance groups and more than 40 Native artisans. The festival started officially in 1974 in Fairbanks. Originally the goal was to give Native students attending UAF from villages a sense of belonging and home. It evolved into a celebration of indigenous cultures throughout the world. Originally, the festival was held over five days, but in recent years has been held over three days.
Festival of Native Arts
317 Brooks Bldg.
P.O. Box 756300
Fairbanks, AK 99775
Ph: 907-474-6889 / 7181
Alaska’s Native Cultures
The Native cultures of Alaska are wonderfully rich both in their similarities and diversity. Each group of people interacts with the environment where they settled. The strong influence of Alaska’s varied environments form the ties between the people and their land. Legends, customs, and subsistence lifestyles developed in harmony with the specific area where they settled. To survive in the harsh climates of Alaska, a deep awareness and unity with the living things around them is an absolute necessity. All Native people have great respect for the spirit of each living thing. Respect and cooperation among village members and for all things were the values that guarantee the survival of the people.
The Native people of Alaska have traditionally been hunters and food gatherers. Rivers, lakes and the ocean were major passageways, and all the cultures included variations of water vessels among their transport options. Although most of the groups were not truly nomadic, their subsistence made it necessary to cover great distances. Almost all of the groups lived in permanent villages throughout the winter, but moved to fish camps on the rivers in the summer. Most all of Alaska Native cultures, then and now, depend heavily upon fish and marine life of many varieties for subsistence. Land mammals are also used for food and clothing. In addition, gathered vegetation (e.g. mushrooms, seaweed, etc.) and a myriad of berries supplement the diet.
Language and culture boundaries between Alaska Native groups are distinct (see map), and are reflective of the nature of the respective culture.
AK Languages Map
Last modified 2007-10-28 by OIT Web Developer. | UAF is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution.
Cited From: A Reference in Time, Alaska Native History Day by Day. Edited by Alexandra J. McClanahan. Published by The CIRI Foundation, 2001.