Indigenous cultures in digital cultures

Indigenous cultures in digital cultures


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UAF's Inu-Yupiaq Dance Group in rehearsal over the Internet with the University of Florida and indigenous performers in Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and Florida. Video by Leone Thierman, ARSC

Fairbanks, Alaska -The Inu-Yupiaq Dance Group is a University of Alaska Fairbanks student dance club that for many years has met on the UAF campus to preserve and perform traditional Inupiaq and Yup'ik Eskimo songs and motion dances. This week, however, without hours of flying, hotel stays and missed school work, more than half of the club's members met to perform in a live, virtual performance with indigenous dancers and drummers in Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and Florida.

The hemisphere-wide event was orchestrated from Gainesville, Fla. as part of the 56th Conference of the University of Florida Center for Latin American Studies. Participants at the Feb. 14 - 16 conference examined how communications technologies have affected indigenous language and cultural identity in the Americas, with a focus on cultural continuity in a changing world.

Using the latest Access Grid Internet technology and the resources of the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center, the event joined indigenous performers from the sub-Arctic to the subtropics via high-speed network connections.

Led by UAF associate professor of music and ARSC affiliate faculty member Scott Deal, the Fairbanks portion of the concert took place in the ARSC Discovery Lab,through a project called Art on the Grid.

According to Deal, the use of ultra-high speed Internet connections for collaborative projects in Alaska just makes sense. Not only does Alaska's immense size make it geographically remote within itself, it is also distant from the rest of the nation and the global community.

"We can lead the way in learning to use this tool for research and development in the sciences, humanities and the arts. In this medium you can be anywhere and you can participate on your own merits. We have the opportunity to present a unique voice from our northern environment and contribute without the obstacle of distance," Deal said.

CONTACT: UAF ARSC Communications Director Debra Damron, 907.450.8662 or .

Arctic Region Supercomputing Center PO Box 756020, Fairbanks, AK 99775 | voice: 907-450-8600 | email:

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