Thursday evening I was privileged to attend the 40th Annual Festival of Native Arts. The festival is held once a year in early spring in the Great Hall at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The festival not only brings together all of the different groups from around Alaska, but sometimes even the vicinity of Russia, Canada, and Japan as well. The festival was started in 1973 by a group of current UAF students, staff and faculty members. The festival was a hit from start and has grown into a warm and welcoming event to kick off spring and the roots that tie down the heritage of the Alaskan people. Dance, art, music and culture are all demonstrated throughout the three day festival, and I was lucky enough to attend four of the live music and dance groups.
Upon entrance to the first piece I attended, the Gaaxw Xaayi Dancers, I was very pleased. I have always enjoyed the Tlingit groups. The group was accompanied by live drums with chanting and singing. All members were wearing the hand sewn “bottom blankets.” The leader of the group who was typically front and center was wearing a beautiful raven head mask. All of the children sitting around me were enthralled with the mystical raven man on stage. The simplicity of the music intrigued me. Even someone like myself who doesn’t understand the language could still feel the power of the music being performed.
The last performance especially stuck out to me. The Troth Yeddha’ concluded the program for the evening. The Troth Yeddha’ is an Athabaskan group from the Fairbanks area. Troth Yeddha’ is an Athabaskan word used to describe the hill on which the UAF campus was built on. Their final piece “Friendship” was very suiting for the atmosphere and conclusion of the night. The piece was very different than I expected. The performers were varied from children up to grandparents participating in the partner like dance. Not only was there all ages represented, there were all levels of performers. There were clearly...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document