The Float Coat Song: Solving Social Problems Through Iñupiaq Song and Dance


David E.K. Smith (University of Pittsburgh)

As part of a larger ethnography exploring the teaching and learning practices of Iñupiaq dance and drumming communities of practice, I illustrate how Alaska Native folklore practices can be used to educate about and address enduring and modern social problems. A striking example is the creation “Float Coat Song'', a new song/dance by an Anchorage-based Iñupiaq dance group aimed at reducing drownings, a severe concern in many Iñupiaq communities, through promoting wearing life jackets. The success of this approach has inspired similar Alaska Native songs/dances, and the model is potentially transferable to other contexts.

Part of 06-07 Recentering Peripheral Ways of Knowing via Global Folklife Education Initiatives, Friday, October 14, 2:30 pm–4:30 pm