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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 8, 2003 - Issue 80


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Alaska Native Heritage Center and Bridge Builders Celebrate Diversity in Anchorage


Alaska Native Heritage Center staff(Anchorage, AK) - The Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) has joined with Bridge Builders to celebrate diversity and community on Saturday, February 1, 2003 from 12PM to 5PM at the ANHC. This is one of the continuing series of Celebrating Culture Saturdays sponsored by BP.

"We are part of a rich and diverse community in Anchorage," stated Lonnie Jackson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "We are pleased to join with Bridge Builders to create a day of celebrating different cultures that make up this city. It is important that all cultures come together to learn from and support each other."

The celebration being held at ANHC will include performances from local Anchorage groups of varying cultures such as Latino, Mexican, Irish, Alaska Native, Filipino and Hawaiian. Na Hula 'Olapa and Ke Aloha Dance Group is dedicated to preserving and sharing the cultures of the islands of Hawaii and Polynesia. Perpetuating their culture helps them stay connected to the "island lifestyle" and share with others. The Kingikmiut Dancers and Singers of Anchorage are Inupiat Eskimos originally from the village of Wales. The group was started in 1991. There are now more than 20 group members who participate at different times, including 10 young people between the ages of 5 and 15. Aguila Azteca is an Anchorage based group that shares traditional Mexican dances from the state of Jalisco, Mexico. The Irish Dance Academy of Alaska has been performing for 5 years. Students under the direction of Noreen Westcott and have been performing together for 3 to 4 years each. The Filipino Dance Group is lead by bi-lingual teachers from the Anchorage School District. All of the performers are members of one extended family and have been dancing all their lives.

The celebration will include Native dancing, storytelling, with arts and crafts sessions available throughout the day for all ages. Arts and crafts will include instructions on how to make Athabascan Necklaces, Yup'ik/Cup'ik Medicine Pouches, Southeast Stone Necklaces and Aleut/Alutiiq eveuate, a traditional toy used for entertaining younger kids.

There will be demonstrations of Native games and healing games with the opportunity for everyone to participate. Weather permitting there will be snowshoeing. Videos will be shown on topics including the Alaska Rain Forest, Whales of Alaska's Inside Passage and Alaska: Alaska Portrait.

Visitors can experience the five recreated village sites that illustrate the traditional structures in a typical village before or shortly after contact with other cultures. Knowledgeable tour guides will share history, culture and traditions of each Native culture.

Bridge Builders is an award-winning program in Anchorage that helps to create a friendlier, safer city. It's goal is to build "a community of friends" among all racial and cultural groups in Anchorage.

Bridge Builders was established in 1996 when Mayor Rick Mystrom invited several African American and Caucasian ministers to dinner to talk about how to prevent racial tension. What began as a discussion of black and whites soon expanded to a conversation about our many citizens who represent a multitude of cultures and racial backgrounds. For more information regarding Bridge Builders, contact Susan Churchill, Executive Director or visit their website at

The Alaska Native Heritage Center was opened in 1999 with the mission to be a gathering place that celebrates, perpetuates and shares Alaska Native cultures. The ANHC provides programs in both academic and informal settings, including workshops, demonstrations, and guided tours of indoor exhibits and outdoor village sites.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center is an independent, nonprofit that is open year-round as a gathering place to celebrate, perpetuate and share Alaska Native cultures; it is a place for all people. It is located at 8800 Heritage Center Drive in northeast Anchorage, just off Muldoon Road North near Bartlett High School. For more information about other events and programs, visit

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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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