Participants came from Seward, Anchorage, and some came from as far as California to attend the annual Healthy Lifestyles Gathering, sponsored by Quetekcak Native Tribe. In addition to a community potlatch at the Branson Pavilion featuring halibut and hamburgers, there was dancing and drumming by a diverse group of Alaska Native and American Indian drummers. The annual gathering is to honor healthy lifestyles and sobriety.
People stood, took off their hats, and put away their cameras as instructed for a particularly moving drum song dedicated to U.S. Veterans, many of whom are Native Alaskan. The words went, “Soldier boy, soldier boy, we dance for no one.”
Another song was jokingly billed as an ancient sacred song in English to honor the non-native community members who turned out to share the potlatch and the dances. Along with traditional-sounding chants and melody were the incongruous words “Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse,” and “Disney Land, Disney Land.”
The final ceremony concluded with a prayer and song for everyone present at the event, and all around the world to the East, the West, North and South who are suffering.
Several of the drummers had babies or young children on their laps, some of who slept soundly through the loud drum beats. The parents held their children’s hands with the drumsticks, and they drummed together. One little girl put stickers over her eyes, and had a big smile on her face as she drummed—presumably because she could better experience the beat and the music that way.