This time of year is full of celebrations and cultural events here in the Yukon Delta. Last weekend was Cama-i (pronounced Cha – my) in Bethel. Cama-i is a huge event that attracts people from around the world. This year, Cama-I hosted the magnificent Te Wananga Maori warriors. The Maori warriors are very enthusiastic and somewhat intimidating with their big tongues sticking out and the warrior like designs on their faces and bodies. They made the front page of the Delta Discovery our regional newspaper.
This weekend, it was Toksooks turn to host a dance festival, the Yup’ik Dance Festival. Although not quite as big, there were about 8 villages that braved the weather and snow machined or flew to Toksook to take part in the festivities. Held in the Nelson Islanders Gymnasium, you couldn’t buy a seat for $20. All right, maybe for $20, but it wouldn’t be a very good seat. Just joking, there weren’t any admission fees, but the place was packed.
This picture should give you an idea of how many people attended and drove their snow machines from their village. Some villages are 30 – 50 miles away over frozen waters and deep snow packed tundra. This is the closest Toksook Bay comes to filling a mall parking lot. There are another 20 snow machines behind me in this picture.
I attended the celebration a couple of times over the weekend, but I was also interested in the mounds of fresh powdery snow that we got in the area almost all weekend. I hit the backcountry everyday (sometimes twice) and got to make some turns on my x-country skis. Everyday there is fresh snow after April 1st is a gift. It will be interesting to see how much snow is left here when it is time to leave for the summer. Don’t forget we are on the coast at an elevation of about 80 feet. I have thoroughly enjoyed this winter.