Thursday, January 10, 2013

Messenger Feast

Kivgiqsuat, Messenger Feast, Inuit of Alaska
"After the separation of the summer months the villagers begin socializing with other village groups. During the latter part of December and early January a social and economic gathering may be held in one of the villages. This gathering is called Kivgiqsuat, the Messenger Feast. The umialit (whaling captains) and their crews host these gatherings. An umialik and his crew usually spend a few years preparing for Kivgiqsuat. Food is gathered and stored, gifts are made or hunted for, new clothing and numerous other preparations are made for the gathering. During Kivgiqsuat partners from different villages exchange gifts. The umialit show the extent of their wealth and power through Kivgiqsuat, the celebration which brings Ieupiat from different villages together and strengthens their social ties (Spencer, 1959).
"The last Messenger Feast on the North Slope of Alaska was held in Wainwright (Alaska) in 1914. Presently the people of arctic Alaska are revitalizing the tradition of the Messenger Feast. January 1988 saw the first celebration of the Messenger Feast in Barrow in eighty years. True to the spirit of Kivgiqsuat several pledges were made that were directly related to social and political alliances. Additionally, one village vowed to use the memories of their elders to enhance the celebration for the following year. This cultural revitalization can only add to the richness of the lives of contemporary Ieupiat."
Source: Cultural Heritage of the Alaskan Inuit (PDF file)


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