Chu'pik from Chevak, Alaska
Join us as we travel the distant and fascinating lands of Indian Country. This download was originally aired nationally as a public radio program titled Oyate Ta Olowan--The Songs of the People during the 90s. Each Oyate download includes the 30 minute program plus the full length songs featured during the program.
See the longer description below to hear a short clip of this show and to read for a full account of our journey to meet John.
Oyate Ta Olowan was produced by Milt and Jamie Lee with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series was aired nationally by Public Radio International.
John Pingayak is an educated, soft-spoken man with plenty of heart. He and his wife, Teresa, have seven children and four grandchildren. John has a degree in education and teaches culture at the school in Chevak. He is also an outdoorsman who enjoys his music, guitar, teaching the young ones and being close to nature. He offers special thanks to his grandfather, Joseph Friday, for teaching him to sing and drum. He would like people to know that “We are the only Chu’pik people in the world”.
The Chu’pik drums are wide, shallow rims of wood stretched with ripcord, the shiny fabric of parachutes. They beat them with a slim stick, and when four of the men drum together, it fills the room. The young people dance a stationary dance, feet planted but hands moving in a sweeping, beautiful motion. The girls hold dance fans edged with caribou beards. The boys sit on their knees and hold wooden circles that are adorned with the feathers of the snowy owl. They all wear chuspics, a smock-like garment that is the traditional garb of the Chu’piks. The girls wear crowns of seal fur.
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Listen to a sample here.