The Alaska Federation of Natives Annual Convention, or AFN for short, is the largest representative annual gathering in the United States of any Native peoples. Each year, AFN draws between 4,000 – 5,000 attendees, and this year’s host was chilly Fairbanks.
A highlight of AFN each year is the Quyana Alaska evening dance performances. Quyana (ku-'ya-na) is a central Yu’pik word for “thank you.” And these dance groups deserve a big thank you, indeed.
What's special about these outstanding performances is they are culturally significant. One of my favorites this year was the Suurimmaanitchuat dancers from Chevak. Their powerful drums and expert choreography get my pulse going every time. This talented group also performed during President Obama’s inauguration. Needless to say, I was thrilled and honored to join the group when they invited audience members to the stage. My rhythm certainly didn’t match theirs, but that was part of the fun – learning, observing, interacting – and being warmly welcomed with open arms.
Check out my video of Quyana highlights below. You can also click on the photo thumbnails to see the full size photos. Enjoy!