Ossie Kairaiuak

Caputnguaq (also known as Chefornak)
2023 Fellowship AwardPerformance Arts

2023 Fellowship Award

Kairaiuak will create a large-scale performance called “Ellanguarput: Our Pretend World” to celebrate the Yup’ik ancestral traditions within the modern-day world, using Yup’ik songs, masks and dances. He hopes to inspire healthy human conversations about how we develop our humanity and art.

In this work, Kairaiuak will honor the traditional Yup’ik three-part dance theory of the storytelling voice, the drum beat and instrumentation, and the performers who help create the atmosphere of the story being told.

Enjoy this performance of the “Seal Boy Song.” Kairaiuak says it is based on an old Yup’ik story about a boy sent to live with the seals who came back with a wealth of knowledge and became a successful “nukalpiaq,” a hunter and gatherer.

Kairaiuak says this wolf spirit mask features colors of weather elememts that show we are constantly being watched and protected. Its power is revealed when it unleashes “Ungagpak” (one with big beard), causing hypothermia in human victims just about every winter season. (Mask by Ossie Kairaiuak)