Nunivak Island Ancient Dancing Stick
During the ancient times of our people. They gathered as a community, inviting other villages to a food and dancing gathering, called “Kevvrirluteng”, (A Festival and gathering of a people from villages abroad, to preform of giving and dancing). Two messengers would be ordered to go to other villages to invite people from other villages to come to the great festival. Gifts of invitation would be given to the village leaders. A place to gather would be a gathering house called a “Qasgiq”, an eskimo sod house made for festivals, a place for men to work together, especially for dancing and preforming community gatherings.
Before the dances begin, The Dancing Stick (Keniraraun), Cup’ig name for dancing stick) people would be invited to eat the foods, as a people respected in acknowledgment to the invitation. The invitation would be acknowledged by showing tremendous respect to neighboring villages of their hospitality and a giving spirit. Showing an abundance of their skill, foods. Wooden bowls and spoons were also made especially for the newly dedicated names that were given to young adolescence teens that achieved adulthood by their talent and skills, from the successful hunts from the spring summer and fall seasons before. During this time of event, the dancing stick would be raised up to show and present the animals, the sea mammals, and the birds of what they were going to be presenting within their dances.
The people invited to the gathering, would also bring good tidings of their character, skill and craftsmanship to be shared amongst one another. Foods, fish, skin pelts of different animals, walrus skin pelts, whole seals, dried fish, tools for men, mukluks, etc.… During this time of event of giving a young girl, a boy would be placed on a skin pelt and would be addressed to the people of her eskimo name given to her, holding a gift presented to some elder relative kin of her mother or father. And this would be a tremendous respect of a name given to her, a name that would be recognized within the community.
The gifts given would be presented to the elders in whom are not able to provide for themselves, also other people in which were invited to the festival. Woman first, then the men, and the children as well. The dances would then begin, with the tribal leader holding the dance stick high above the people. During the dances the person may use the dancing stick by swinging it back and forth in motion of what the individual, or the village tribe would be presenting within their dances. Preforming songs of the past, present and future success of hunts, food for the families, clothing and tools for the future. The dancing stick was a representation of the people, preforming their respect to the mammals of the sea, the animals of the land, and the fowls of the air. In respect to the way of the species presented on the dancing stick, they showed through the motions of happiness, respect, and the ability to have a greater success in giving to those who are in need. Much of the dances where also presented of songs of the ancient relatives before their time. Using motions of respect of the animals that gave them a life to live.