Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The process of mask making.

The Yup'ik Shamans were responsible for almost all of the spiritual concepts expressed in the masks. They would pick someone that was a skilled carvers to interpret what they wanted to be carved onto the masks. In some cases the carver or the carvers weres werent allowed to wear the masks. During the carving and dancing the masks were handled very carefully so they would not offend the spirit inside the masks. When the masks were finished they were hidden in a secret place. When they were done they were covered to protect them. When it was time to put on the mask the dancer would put it on in a dark corner. So the audience could not see the dancer transform from dancer to spirit.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The after affect of the Great Death.

After the Great Death had occurred the Alaskan Natives wanted nothing more then to forget about everything that had happened losing 60 percent of their population. Also stopped doing everything that their culture had valued and started living the Euro American why of life. They had never talked to their children about it they wanted to act as it never have happened. There was no more mask making, dancing, speaking Yup'ik in public places, and wearing there clothing they traditional had used. Most Alaskan Natives had started suffering from a disease called PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). They had started suffering from this because they had tried to forget about the bad things that had happened (The Great Death) and started using alcohol and drugs to to cover up the suppressed feeling they had been trying to hide with the short affect of feeling good with the alcohol and drugs. Here's a link to a website with a graph of deaths related to alcohol by Natives and Indians.

The Great Death

The great death occurred in 1918 when the first Euro Americans came into Alaska. Bringing with them many diseases, and killing 60 percent of the Alaskan Native population. Leaving almost whole villages deveasted and almost empty.There were so many dead people the survivors had to abandon the the villages. People Started turing on the Shamans because they too, where dying, and were being proven useless. Shamans were the villages' doctors and healers. So the Native's turn to the Euro Americans for help. The Euro Americans told the Natives that everything they had been doing such as dancing, mask making, and ect. was evil. They also told the Natives that their people had probably went to hell. So, the Alaskan Natives turned over power to the "white people." They had become civilized. Their children were forced to go to boarding schools, stop speaking their native language, and wear western clothing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Alaskan Natives use to live in little houses called Qasgis (underground houses).These Qasgis where build as quick as one day everyone in the village helped build them. All the men lived in the biggest one out of all them and women slept in their own Qasgi. Qasgis were mainly built of things around them including drift wood, soil for insulation, and tundra sod to cover it. Qasgis were used for every event that was held in the Villages such as dances, feasts, and where meeting were held. Boys moved out of there mothers homes around the age of five and moved into the men's Qasgi. Where they were taught everything about how to survive, listen to the elders, and how to make tools.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Alaskan Natives had many beliefs that they practices they believed everything had spirits including their surroundings. They had many beliefs they believed everything were caused by spirits even illnesses. They had shamans who protected them they were like the village doctors and protectors. So when 60 percent of there population had died they turned on the Shamans for not protecting them. After they turned on the Shamans they turned to the westerners for help. The Westerners told them masks were evil and the dancing they did was also evil. They converted the Nativies to Christianity and sent there children to boarding schools.

Alaskan Masks

Alaskans had always practiced their own way of the life they lived in Alaska thousands of years before the western people came to Alaska bring with them disease and there culture. The Alaskan natives had survived very well doing their own thing living off the land and surviving. After the first western people came to Alaska the new diseases killed 60 percent of the native population causing many problems. The western people told the native what the were doing with the Masks and the way they lived was devil worshiping and thats why the people had died.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Alaskan Masks

Alaskan Native masks are not just an art form but something much more they were used for many thing including burials, dancing, grave stones, dance festivals, and various other things. When they were done using the masks for the dance festivals many of the Natives would throw out the masks because many of them were only used once. When someone in the village would die they would make a mask for that person and bury them with it. Heres a link with what some of the masks looked like.