Celebrating culture in Kongiganak

Celebrating culture in Kongiganak
Posted on 12/12/2023
Students cooking and celebrating
On Nov. 22 the community of Kongiganak gathered for a day of blessing and gratitude, celebrating their culture and values.
The students at Ayagina'ar Elitnaurvik prepared the meal in their classrooms, using the skills and knowledge they learned from their teachers and elders. They cooked various dishes that included turkey, ham, Jell-o, cake, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, rice, stuffing, corn, agurak, dry fish, and salmon, berries, and grass. They also made decorations and crafts.
Students prepare feast
Before the meal, the students performed a Yujak native Yupik dance of blessing, accompanied by drumming and singing. Yujak is a traditional style of dancing that tells stories of their ancestors, their environment, and their daily activities. The students wore colorful regalia, such as kuspuks that represented their identity and heritage. They moved their arms gracefully with the dance fans, while the men knelt in front of the women in a synchronized manner.
The dance was a way of expressing their gratitude to the Creator, the spirits, and the animals for providing them with food, clothing, and shelter. It was also a way of honoring their elders, who passed down their wisdom and traditions to the younger generation. The elders shared their gratitude and blessings to the students and the staff, who invited them to come and join the feast. They praised their efforts and achievements and encouraged them to continue learning and preserving their culture.
The community enjoyed the meal together, sharing stories, jokes, and laughter. They felt a strong sense of unity and belonging, as they celebrated their common values and history. They thanked each other for their contributions and support and wished each other well for the coming winter. They ended the day with a final song and prayer, feeling happy and fulfilled.
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