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In Yup’ik culture, “Cama-i!” is a welcome greeting often accompanied by a handshake. It’s also the spirit behind the annual Cama-i Dance Festival, a three-day event held in Bethel and sponsored by the Southwest Alaska Arts Group. Visit www.swaagak.org for this year’s detailed schedule.

The longstanding festival features Yup’ik dance, arts, crafts, seminars, a qaspeq fashion show, and public honors for local culture bearers. It has attracted 4,000 people and 20 Alaskan and international dance groups. This year’s theme is Yuraq Paiciutekaput – Dance is Our Legacy

Alaska Airlines offers a 7% discount code ECMK252 for people traveling to the festival (some exclusions apply). The event relies on volunteer support, and anyone wishing to volunteer can contact Laura Ellsworth at [email protected].

This year’s festival is dedicated to the memories of Seliksuyar Bob Aloysius of Bethel and Inuguarpak Stanley Anthony of Nightmute. And it honors culture bearers Ap’alluk Levi Hoover of Kasigluk and Atrilnguq Joseph Asuluk Sr. of Toksook Bay.

Photo credit: Wáats’asdiyei Joe Yates

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