The Alutiiq Dancers Celebrates 30th Year

(Left to right) Alyssa Madrid, Margaret Roberts, and Candace Branson, past and present members of the Alutiiq Dancers. Photo by Kayla Desroches / KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The traditional Alutiiq song and dance group, the Alutiiq Dancers, celebrates its 30th year this week.

The group formed in 1987, and Margaret Roberts was one of its original members.

They took inspiration from other dance groups at the time.

Roberts says they would watch those groups perform at meetings and at Alaska Federation of Natives conventions.

“We could see that there was such a great pride in their people representing their own culture, and I think that’s exactly what we wanted to do.”

She says, at the time, few group members knew the Alutiiq language, and Larry Matfay from Old Harbor was among those who passed along some songs.

“He taught us akutaq, and that was making pudding and giving you some. Larry would always take the hat off his head and use that like he was mixing the pudding, the akutaq, in a bowl.”

The Alutiiq Dancers has since expanded its selection of songs.

The group will present some of those at its celebration Saturday. That’ll be at the Afognak Native Corporation starting at 1 p.m.

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