By Victoria Barber
“Statehood is just a tiny blip in Alaska Native history,” said Jack Dalton, a Yup’ik actor and author from Hooper Bay who co-wrote and co-starred in the production with Inupiat performance artist Allison Warden.
Last January, Sandy Hunter, the producing artistic director at Cyrano’s Theater Company in Anchorage, approached Dalton with the idea of creating an original work about Alaska’s history from the Native point of view.
Though aware that “A: there is no ‘Native view of statehood’ and B: it’s just part of a vast history,” Dalton was game. By July, when Harper had heard that Cyrano’s had gotten a grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum to go ahead with the project, Warden had came on board. By then, the concept had expanded.
The finished play, directed by Gwich’in Athabascan director Princess Lucaj, packed the Anchorage playhouse from April 10-26.
It begins in legend, before time, with Raven, or “Tulu,” and Eagle, known as “Miti.” Mischevious and playful Tulu, played by Dalton, steals light from the more cautious and serious Miti, played by Warden, and unwittingly creates the sun, moon and stars. In the next scene Tulu and Miti are still there, but they are now brothers out seal hunting. In the third scene, Tulu and Miti are a husband and wife mending a fishing net, and in the fourth an elder and child during “the great death,” the flu pandemic of 1918.
Warden is collaborating with Inupiaq visual artist Gretchen Sagan and Inupiaq writer Joan Kane on a project called “virtual subsistence,” which she said is about “how we subsist in the city.” The production will show at the MTS Gallery in Anchorage this October. She is also recording a rap album.
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