The Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage invites all hunters and trappers to participate in the King Island Animal Spirit Release Ceremony on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This ceremony is to honor the animals that gave themselves to humans for food, clothing and tools. Complimentary refreshments will be provided starting at 11:30 a.m.
By honoring the spirit of an animal that gives itself to a human, the human gives thanks for the harvest and releases the animal spirit so that it may come back again another day. Many cultures believe that the released spirit would tell others of its kind that humans are respectful and honorable, ensuring that other animals would give themselves to the hunters. The Animal Spirit Release Dance is also done to honor the hunter and encourages him to be a good provider for his family.
The King Island Dancers and Singers of Anchorage will perform two parts of the Wolf Dance as part of the ceremony. An elder will also say a prayer and fresh water will be 'shared' with the animals to release their spirits. Hunters and trappers will be invited to dance to honor the animal spirits. Participating hunters should bring the skulls of any animals taken in a hunt or by trap. The skulls play an integral role in the dance ceremony.
Ruth Outwater, Inupiat, will be sharing her knowledge on Native foods, health and the importance of treating animals with respect. Arts and crafts sessions will be available throughout the day for all ages. Instructions include how to make: Athabascan Medicine Pillows, Yup'ik/Cup'ik Ladies Tool Bags, Inupiaq/St. Lawrence Island Yupik Animal Pouches, Aleut Visors and Southeast Headbands.
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