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Alaska Native youths pass on their culture through dance

  • Author: Loren Holmes
  • Updated: October 18, 2016
  • Published October 18, 2016

The sights and sounds of traditional Alaska Native song and dance filled the Carlson Center in Fairbanks on Monday night, as groups of youths from across the state took to the stage during the annual Chin'an night performances.

Perhaps not as well known as the annual Quyana dance performances that are a perennial highlight of the Alaska Federation of Natives conference, Chin'an is organized to highlight groups that are youth-led or made up primarily of Alaska Native youths.

"There's definitely some adrenaline," said Steven Woods, a teenager from Huslia who performed with the FNA/JOM Potlatch Dancers. "You feel excited and nervous at the same time," said his fellow dancer Jazmyn Vent, also from Huslia. Their group is unique in that the older members, teenagers, teach their songs and dance to the younger members.

"The little kids look up to the older ones, and we show them (the dances)," said Woods. "It's good to pass it on and keep it going."

"So that our culture doesn't go away," added Vent.

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