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> Iglu Dance, Learning about Cultures of the North
post May 12 2005, 01:40 AM
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As we begin to prepare to visit the three villages of Pilot Station in Alaska on the Yukon River and Inuvik and Tsiigehtchic on the MacKenzie River in Canada, there is a lot for us to learn. Max and I had such a fantastic time in Siberia last spring and a big part of what made that trip such a success was our interactions with the people in the village of Zhigansk (and perfect timing for the ice breaking up and a lot of luck with our water sampling mission). However when I was in Zhigansk last year, I wished that I had known more about the people and their culture. So, I plan to go into the villages this summer with a lot more knowledge.

The start of my understanding into the native people of the north began with my trip to Fairbanks two weeks ago. While we were there, we were fortunate to be taught one of the shared dances of the Inupiaq people called the Iglu (sometimes spelled Igloo) dance. This was a relative easy dance with about five steps--wiping the snow off your arms to prepare for building the igloo, cutting the blocks for the igloo, shaping the igloo, putting the cutting knife away, and showing your power. I shared this dance with my classes upon my return. We also had some discussions about how important it is to be respectful of other peoples' cultures when you visit them and also why some people of the north may be resentful of outsiders, including scientists coming into their village. The fourth grade class introduced the dance to the rest of the school and then the whole school, including the kindergarteners, joined in for a round of the dance.

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To learn more about the people and villages we will be visiting I have ordered some books from a bookstore in Yellowknife, Canada, one of the larger cities/towns we will fly through on our way to Inuvik and Tsiigehtchic. As soon as they arrive, I'll post a book review and share what I've learned!

Finally, I really hope that through this expedition that some of the communications that have begun between students in Salisbury and the students of Zhigansk will be established with students from Pilot Station, Tsiigehtchic, and Inuvik. So, I am working on establishing relationships with those schools before we depart. My hope is that even though school will be out for summer vacation while we are there, that I will be able to meet some of the teachers and students from those schools and that some of the students might want to help Max and I out with the science sampling.

I have one other personal goal that I hope to acheive before heading to Alaska and Canada-- I hope that I will memorize how to spell Tsiigehchic!!
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post May 12 2005, 06:15 PM
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Very Cute! What a great idea! I love the whole class learning the dance too and it looks like they are having fun!
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