Passing Music on to Alaska's Youth

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1 November 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone! Masih ‘cho and ana bassee (thanks) for all your prayers and support. I and the Dancing with the Spirit staff feel truly blessed to be traveling to the villages with the gift of music. Just before Christmas, my son Mike and I were in Arctic Village where it warmed up to 45 below! I woke up to the beauty of the almost full moon over the snow-covered mountains and the nearby log cabins and the old log cabin church… Three elders (the Rev. Trimble Gilbert, Gideon James, and Lillian Garnett) helped us with music and the Gwich’in language—and five of our eight concert songs were in Gwich’in--Sweet Bye and Bye, Happy Birthday, Eagle Island Blues, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and Silent Night. The young fiddlers really focused on their tunes—and the guitar students did a little rewriting so they could sing “Sweet Home Arctic Village.’”

That same week, Pete Peter and Bill Stevens (both outstanding Athabascan musicians) traveled to Kaltag our 14th village. Pete reports that “the concert and potlatch were awesome! We had 5 individual bands on the stage and they all did 2 songs each and 2 Christmas songs all together. Then the kids danced the reel, rabbit and jigging dances for the community! The parents were so amazed about their children! We then had a communty fiddles dances later.”

We've had a fun fall and winter traveling to Circle, Hughes, Anvik, Minto, Tanana, Stevens Village, Beaver, and to our new bishop's consecration in Anchorage with 9 students representing Interior villages. They sang and played their guitars and fiddles and wore their Native regalia at the beginning and end of the consecration service--plus at the banquet. And they attended the Sunday Service at St. Christopher's led by the Presiding Bishop! The students also enjoyed going to the State Fair and H2Oasis--plus the drive down and back. "When's the next Dancing with the Spirit trip?" one of the students asked..

In the summer, we did several camps and last spring, we helped Cruikshank School in Beaver record their first CD Ch'aaraadzaa ("We are Dancing" in Gwich'in) by their band Beaver Fever. It’s so great to listen to their laughter and feel the joy in their music!

We are so grateful for your continuing prayers and support that make miracles happen wherever we go. Our dream is to train staff to go to all areas of the state and nation bringing music, culture, and dancing as a way to prevent suicide, drug, and alcohol abuse. Send your tax-deductible contributions today to buy instruments that change kids lives and keep us going--to Dancing with the Spirit, Episcopal Diocese of Alaska, 1205 Denali Way, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701. Check out our web site at We need Mac Laptops for the staff (anybody upgrading this Christmas?) and small (or large) items for door prizes at the community dances. And we could really use some video recording equipment to record the songs the elders sing... We’re having such amazing adventures! Let us know if you can help... And come to the Sobriety New Year’s Day Dance in Nenana!! For more information contact the Rev. Ginny Doctor at the Diocesan Office907-452-3040; Pete Peter at 907-456-8215; or the Rev. Belle Mickelson, (907-388-3347(cell) or

Love and blessings,

View previous news letters:
February 11, 2009
November 25, 2008
August 14, 2008
May 25, 2008

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