Articles by Rashae Ophus Johnson

Young Alaska Native embraces Catholic faith & tribal traditions

Traditional Yup’ik dance was a form of prayer, a ritualistic plea to the spirit world in the land that would one day be known as Alaska. In that long-ago age, the shaman donned masks representing animal spirits and led the tribe in singing, dancing and drumming to petition the spirits for specific needs. In the late 1800s Christian missionaries including Jesuit priests banned the Natives’ ancient ceremonial dancing, condemning it as evil pagan idolatry.

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