The Annual Potlatch in Saint Mary’s lasts three days. The first night is dedicated to those being presented to the community and celebrated through song and dance. The guests can request any song and can call for “Pamyua” all evening. The hosts entertain their guests for the first half of the evening, and then it’s the guest’s turn. Sophie Evan was there, and gives us a closer look at the events that weekend.
The second day started early as the hosts organized a gymnasium full of gifts to be distributed. The guests arrived and each age group had its own seating section. The elders in front, the young adults to the right, and very well behaved children to the left, with the rest of us in the bleachers. The newly named Wanka gave away a hunting rifle and furs to his namesake’s family. The hosts then passed out various items like; tools, furs, material, and other useful goods to their guests. The spiritual side of the gift giving is in memory of all the ancestors who have passed on, and are being outfitted with new and useful items they need.
That afternoon, the men from Saint Mary’s brought wild fish and game to be distributed to widows and widowers. The community hall was filled with quartered moose, all kinds of whole fish like; white, pike and lush, as well as rabbits, waterfowl, seal, seal oil, berries, and fish agutaq to name a few.
Father Ted Kessler blessed the bounty before they were all given away.
Cut 1 “ prayer………… ending with God Bless those who will cook.” Laughter……
Everyone left very happy with boxes and bags full of food. Saint Mary’s Elder Mr. Paukan explained that this was the way to ensure those without a hunter didn’t go hungry at the end of a long winter and before the spring.
Cut 3 Pilot Station singing….. ambi fade under…..
The last evening started with dancing by those who were named. Halfway into the evening, it was time for the Pilot Station guests to dance. Elders did the handover from each group; the hosts gave more gifts in the exchange. The evening was lighthearted as the dancing continued.
The Sunday morning church service was dedicated to praising the Lord with Drum, Song, and Dance. The Saint Mary’s dancers performed a prayer song as a plea for a safe journey home at the end.
Francis Thompson, leader for the Saint Mary’s dancers, explained that once everyone has left the village, they the hosts, will perform the Tukerceciq, which is singing and dancing on their own as a send off to their guests until next year. Sophie Evan KYUK news.
Cut 2 “Francis Thompson Yup’ik……