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How Did You Live? Writing a Song for Nunalleq

December 17, 2018

The amazing Quinhagak dance group with special guest Chuna McIntyre during the celebrations for the opening of the Nunalleq Culture and Archaeology Centre in August 2018.

Another update on the material coming together for Nunalleq: Stories from the Village of Our Ancestors – the interactive educational computer program we’ve been working on which is due for release in early 2019…

Part of my work during the 2018 field season was to begin recording stories, insights and local knowledge as sound bites to accompany the 3D scanned artefacts and reconstructions in the resource. The resource is narrated by the voices who make up the project: from village elders and master craftspeople, to archaeologists and specialists from around the globe, as well as the voices of the local young people speaking about their contemporary engagements with the stories coming out of the archaeological site. And it’s this younger generation who really stole the show this summer!

Throughout the development of the educational resource we have worked together with the Quinhagak community to foster a flexible design process where creative outcomes respond to the stories, knowledge and material people feel are important to share. In this spirit of co-design I worked with the local dance group to write a song about the archaeology project to be performed at the opening of the new Nunalleq Culture and Archaeology Centre in August. Traditional Yup’ik dance or yuraq is a powerful way of storytelling and everything from the lyrics, to the movements, to the beat come together in songs about everything from subsistence life and Yup’ik values to basketball or driving a snow mobile. Yuraqing has had a difficult history over the past century, but in recent years the younger generation in Quinhagak have championed its cultural revival.

As part of the content for the education pack I worked with the dance group to make a short film about the making-of the new dance song for Nunalleq. We hope you enjoy our wee film and I am sure you’ll agree, they are all kinds of amazing!


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