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Video: Inuit throat-singing sisters from Canada

Perhaps you've never heard of throat singing.

If you have, more than likely it was Tuvan throat singing, which is traditionally done by men, usually by themselves, in Tuva.

But Karin and Kathy Kettler, the Canadian throat-singing sisters who together are known as Nukariik, carry on the traditions of the elders from their mothers' village in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik, which is located in northern Quebec.

The practice started as a way for women to pass the time while men were out hunting. It's a friendly competition in which two women face each other and layer the same beat a second apart. As Kathy says, "It's easy to tell who wins at throat singing because the other person is usually laughing at you because you've lost."

It's also a way to sooth babies. Most women wore the babies on their backs in large hoods, allowing babies to feel throat-singing vibrations reverberating through the chest. Karin enjoys throat singing, not only because it's a way to participate in her cultural but also as "a stress reliever, because I have to focus on my breathing."

Nukariik, which means sisters, played as part of Alaska Native Heritage Center's recent Circumpolar Music and Dance Festival, where numerous groups from the circumpolar region came together to share cultural practices.

Tara Young is a video journalist for Alaska Dispatch. Email her at tara(at)alaskadispatch.com and follow Alaska Dispatch on Instagram.