|Native American Stories and Songs
John Pingayak / Chu'pik from Chevak, Alaska
John Pingayak is an educated, soft-spoken man with plenty of heart. He and his wife, Teresa, have seven children and four grandchildren. John has a degree in education and teaches culture at the school in Chevak. He is also an outdoorsman who enjoys his music, guitar, teaching the young ones and being close to nature. He offers special thanks to his grandfather, Joseph Friday, for teaching him to sing and drum. He would like people to know that, “We are the only Chu’pik people in the world.”
The Chu’pik drums are wide, shallow rims of wood stretched with ripcord, the shiny fabric of parachutes. They beat them with a slim stick, and when four of the men drum together, it fills the room. The young people dance a stationary dance, feet planted but hands moving in a sweeping, beautiful motion. The girls hold dance fans edged with caribou beards. The boys sit on their knees and hold wooden circles that are adorned with the feathers of the snowy owl. They all wear chuspics, a smock-like garment that is the traditional garb of the Chu’piks. The girls wear crowns of seal fur.
Listen to a sample of the show here.