Arts & Culture

Stories about the arts and culture.

Courtesy of Mary Sattler Peltola

Yuraq dancers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks - Kuskokwim Campus honored their late director, Mary Ciuniq Pete, at the Cama-i Festival this year. 

Regalia, Stories Abound At Cama-i

Apr 4, 2019
Rashah McChesney / KYUK/Alaska's Energy Desk


On the Yukon-Kuskowkwim Delta, Yup’ik dance has undergone a renaissance. Everything that goes along with it, from intricate beading, headdresses to mukluks, dance fans to masks, has a story.


Joey Mendolia / KYUK

The Scammon Bay dancers returned to the Cama-i stage for the first time since their Elder, Maryann Sundown, passed away in 2011.

Video: What Cama-i Means To Me

Apr 2, 2019

"We dance because it shows who we are." This weekend, we hosted a photo booth at Cama-i and asked people why Cama-i is important to them.

Rashah McChesney / KYUK

At the last minute, Chefornak dancers canceled their appearance at last year’s Cama-i Dance Festival when Tribal Council President and drummer Walter Lewis died suddenly in a snowmachine accident. This year, Cama-i dedicated the gathering to Lewis’ memory. 

Sivaluaq Jerry "Bucket" Lieb tells a customer the story behind a design on one of his pieces at the Cama-i Dance Festival at Bethel Regional High School on March 30, 2019.
Rashah McChesney / KTOO

This year’s Cama-i theme was “Together We Dance As One.” The unifying message inspired artist Sivaluaq Jerry "Bucket" Lieb to design the festival’s spirit mask around the story of how people gave up fighting to dance and sing. Lieb told KYUK the story behind the image.

Cama-i’s Living Treasure, Cikiigaq Joe Ayagarak Jr. of Chevak, performs a solo dance with the Yurartet Singers and Dancers at the Cama-i Dance Festival at Bethel Regional High School on March 29, 2019.
Anna Rose MacArthur / KYUK

Chevak never stopped dancing. When the missionaries came, the villagers buried their drums, later unearthing them to continue their dance tradition. This year’s Cama-i’s Living Treasure, Cikiigaq Joe Ayagarak Jr. of Chevak, inherited that tradition. In the 1980s he brought it to Kwethluk, where it’s continued ever since. This year, Ayagarak Jr. met his legacy on the Cama-i stage.

Slideshow: 2019 Cama-i Festival

Mar 31, 2019
Gabby Salgado / KYUK

Performers, artists, families, and fans came together in Bethel for the 2019 Cama-i Festival over the weekend of March 29-31. 

The smallest Kasigluk dancer performs with his community dance group at the Cama-i Dance Festival on March 16, 2018 in Bethel, Alaska.
Amara Freeman / KYUK

Friday begins the cultural explosion of the Cama-i Dance Festival. The dancing begins this evening at 5 p.m. at Bethel Regional High School and will last through the weekend until late Sunday night. Dance groups from across the region, the state, and the lower 48 are gathering to share dance, culture, tradition, and community. Across the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, dancers are getting ready to take the stage.

Father Michael Trefon of Bethel's St. Sophia Orthodox Church leads a Theophany ceremony on the Kuskokwim River near Bethel's boat harbor on January 19, 2019. The ritual is meant to recreate the baptism of Jesus Christ as described in the New Testament.
Jacob Resneck / CoastAlaska

January 19 marks a Russian Orthodox holy day. In Bethel, Russian Orthodox Christians commemorated the day by re-enacting the baptism of Jesus Christ on the frozen Kuskokwim River.