November 3, 2003 American Folklife Center Concert Highlights Native Alaskan Culture

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The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress presents Chuna McIntyre and the Nunamta Yup’ik Eskimo Dancers at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 12, in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Jefferson Building, First Street and Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. The concert is free of charge, and no tickets are required.

This is the eighth concert in the series "“Homegrown 2003: The Music of America," monthly presentations of traditional music and dance (April to November) that are drawn from communities across the United States and arranged with the help of state folklorists.

Co-sponsoring this concert are the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and the Folklore Society of Greater Washington.

The Nunamta (of our land) Yup’ik Eskimo Dancers are a Native Alaskan performing group founded in the late 1970s by McIntyre, a Central Yup’ik Eskimo, who was born and raised in the village of Eek in southwestern Alaska on the shores of the Bering Sea. Eek is located near the delta of the Kuskokwim River and has a population of almost 300 people. Yup’ik is the primary language spoken in the village, and the traditional songs, dances and stories are still passed on from generation to generation.

McIntyre was raised by his grandmother, from whom he learned the ancient traditions of the Yup’ik tribe. Yup’ik is his first language, and he learned the songs and stories of his people growing up in the village. McIntyre attended the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and helped organize Tuma (Footprints) Theater before moving on to Sonoma State University in California. He earned his degree there in 1991, with a major in studio art and a minor in Native American studies. In recent years McIntyre has taught the Central Yup’ik language at Stanford University.

Over the past 20 years, the Nunamta Yup’ik Eskimo Dancers have traveled the world sharing Alaska’s native cultural heritage under the direction of McIntyre. They have traveled to Japan for the Smithsonian Institution, were part of the “Plains, Pueblos and Tundra” national tour organized by the National Council for the Traditional Arts and participated in the Folk Masters concert series at Wolf Trap, which was produced by folklorist Nick Spitzer for National Public Radio.

The Jefferson Building is located close to Metrorail stops at Capitol South (orange and blue lines) and Union Station (red line).

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to “preserve and present American folklife” through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.

Established in 1989, through an Act of Congress, the National Museum of the American Indian is an institution of living cultures dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. The museum includes the George Gustav Heye Center, a permanent exhibition and education facility in New York City, and the Cultural Resources Center, a research and collection facility in Suitland, Maryland. A new museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is now under construction and will open on Sept. 21, 2004. Visit the Museum’s Web site at www.AmericanIndian.si.edu.

Part of the Kennedy Center's Performing Arts for Everyone initiative, the Millennium Stage helps fulfill the center’s mission to make performing arts widely accessible. Millennium Stage offers free, 6 p.m. performances at the Kennedy Center 365 days a year. Daily broadcasts of Millennium Stage concerts are available on the Internet. For a schedule and information on how to access the broadcasts, visit the Kennedy Center Web site at http://kennedy-center.org.

The Folklore Society of Greater Washington was founded in 1964 to further the understanding, investigation, appreciation and performance of the traditional folk music and folklore of the American people. The Society presents more than 200 folk events in the Washington area each year.

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PR 03-188
2003-11-03
ISSN 0731-3527