Passing Music on to Alaska's Youth

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Welcome to Dancing with the Spirit!

Tanana Camp

     Dancing with the Spirit is a project to connect youth and elders through music. The Rev. Trimble Gilbert from Arctic Village says "in the old days, we fought tribal wars with arrowheads. It's a different type of war now - against drugs and alcohol. I believe we can win with music." Music can bring joy, hope, and love to villages struggling with alcoholism, drugs, and suicide. Music builds confidence, self-esteem, and the closeness of family. Students can spend hours and hours playing guitars and fiddles, singing and dancing. Alaska's first visitors - explorers, the Hudson Bay Company, missionaries, and whalers - brought fiddles, guitars, banjos, and mandolins. Indians and Eskimos have taken this music and developed their own style. In almost every community, elders play and sing and would like to pass on through music--their culture, their respect for the land and its animals, and their values.


     This project is modeled on a 4H Bluegrass and Old-time Music and Dance Camp where students sing, dance and learn to play fiddle and
guitar that has been held in Cordova, Alaska for the past 21 summers. Over the past nine years, we've traveled to 29 villages, many
of them numerous
times - averaging 20 weeks per year for the past four years. Program funding comes from schools, tribal councils, individuals, grants, and the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska. With your help and prayers, Dancing with the Spirit can spread worldwide!

     Dancing with the Spirit Director Wins Purpose Prize!
Watch a video about our staff together with village kids.

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