Festival of Native Arts celebrates 35 years
Submitted by Carla Browning
The University of Alaska Fairbanks will host the 35th annual Festival of Native Arts Feb. 28-March1 in the Charles Davis Concert Hall on the Fairbanks campus. This year's theme "One Song, Many Dances,"Ł reflects the nearly two dozen Native dance groups and 40 Native artisans who are expected to participate. This year organizers of the festival will dedicate the opening and closing of three separate nights to people who have served the Native community: Susan McHenry, longtime UAF Rural Student Services adviser will be honored Thursday, Feb. 28; the late Chief Marie Smith Jones, of the Eyak Nation, will be honored Friday, Feb. 29; and the late Reverend Chief David Salmon of the Athabascan Nation will be honored and remembered Saturday, March 1.
Festival will begin at 6 p.m. each day and continue until midnight. Audience members are encouraged to arrive early for dance events, as seating is limited. The annual potlatch is March 1 at noon followed by an intertribal powwow until 5 p.m. Both will take place in the Wood Center Carol Brown Ballroom. Events are free and open to the public.
Native students and Student Orientation Services at UAF established the Fairbanks Festival of Native Arts in 1973 as an attempt to preserve Native cultural expression. Originally, the festival focused each night on a specific Alaska Native culture. Today, the Festival has grown in its depth and focus, now featuring Native dance groups from locations throughout the state and nation, such as Sitka, Nondalton, Stevens Village and Haines Junction, Canada and Hill City, S.D. Native artisans who participate in the festival specialize in arts and crafts from multiple indigenous cultures.
The Festival of Native Arts is organized by student and community volunteers in cooperation with local, federal and state organizations.