So what do you do on Halloween night when temperatures are hovering around zero and you live hundreds of miles off the road system?
You make your own fun. That's what you do!
Puuqtaluk is an annual Halloween event that involves costumed dancers and a full night of silliness and laughter. For a more detailed explanation, click here.
It's difficult to appreciate the craziness of Puuqtaluk unless you experience it for yourself. The costumes can be a bit...er...off-putting if viewed out of context.
If you're not a local, it's hard to imagine just what might be lurking behind the gruesome grins.
The whole idea is to remain anonymous.
See what I mean?
But Atqasuk residents know that it's all in fun. No one relishes frightening anyone. The costumes are meant to conceal and distract from the dancer's identity and sometimes they actually pull it off.
Take this guy, for instance.
You'd never know it by looking at him, but there is a stand-up comic buried beneath all that ugly. (A very creative dancer as well). This year he won first place in his age group and then went on to compete against all age groups, including adults, to win the grand prize!
Here he is after winning for the second time that night. Awesome!
So here's the drill...
#1...a space is cleared for dancing...dancers on one side and the audience on the other.
#2...loud music is played in two-three minute segments allowing participants to dance individually as well as alongside competitors.
#5...the winner reveals his/her identity and collects a prize.
#6...everyone repeatedly watches videos of students and friends dancing their crazy dances (or am I the only one that does that?).
Welcome to the Arctic! This space is dedicated to observations and experiences related to daily life in the Inupiat Eskimo village of Atqasuk. Questions and comments are invited. Thanks for visiting! Quyanaqpaq!
nuna:tundra, the land atikluk:snow shirt, parka cover
Interested in Inuit culture? Check out these films...
The Fast Runner is an excellent representation of ancient Inuit culture. The R-rating is for nudity, violence, and some language. Subtitles are utilized throughout. I do not recommend this film for children, but it's an extremely accurate portrayal of the culture. It was introduced to me by an Inupiat woman who raved about it. And I agree!
For a preview, click here.
The Snow Walker is another excellent representation of Inuit culture circa 1940's. This film is rated PG, I'm guessing for language. No subtitles that I remember. It starts a little slow, but gets much better. It will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the survival skills of this culture.
For a preview, click here.
Great For Kids!
Whale Snow by Debby Dahl Edwardson is a warm and culturally sensitive story centered on the Inupiat subsistence tradition of whaling. It is available in both English and Inupiaq translation. The illustrations, by Annie Patterson are exquisite and add to the quiet softness that the story inspires.
To order this title on Amazon.com, click here.
The Alaska Geographic series is an excellent informational resource. The edition entitled North Slope Now deals exclusively with this area and even features relatives of my students. Although it was published in 1989, it is still current enough to provide a general understanding of culture, lifestyle, and issues faced by this northern-most region.
To order this title from Alaska Geographic, click here.
More about Kaktovik Disaster of 2005 (from Dec post, "The Edge")