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Jodi Rave: Sharing the dance and harvest in Alaska

"The Emmonak villagers call themselves Kuigpagmuit or 'people from the Yukon River.' This winter, the people are meeting at the community hall four nights each week in preparation for an annual potlach celebration, which takes place in February.

The potlach provides a platform for the Kuigpagmuit to dance for and share with neighboring villages. The people will give away material goods, fish and other harvested foods to visiting guests. In the Wade Hampton region of Alaska, Natives make up about 94 percent of the 8,000 residents. In this land, the people rely on harvests of wild food - including salmon, whale, seals, caribou and berries - amounting to nearly 700 pounds per person.

Hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering accounts for about 44 percent of villagers' economic income. The potlachs allow them to share harvested food. The generosity is a quality I've seen among indigenous people all across North America.

But it's a practice that has long confounded outsiders."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Eskimos dance the dance, share the harvest (The Missoulian 2/4)

Relevant Links:
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