An awesome video!
What a great moment this was! I was soooo hot! I was wearing my fur regalia and it was at least 70 in the stadium. I felt so honored at this moment by all of your support!
UAF Journalism interviewed me as I was helping out at the Festival of Native Arts. Yum!!
Kelsey Ciugun Wallace a Yup’ik Eskimo from Bethel in southwest Alaska on the Kuskokwim River.
Kelsey is wearing a beautiful Kuskokwim style tasseled mink parka made by Anna Hedlund Alexie and Elsie Chimegalrea. The parka is made of 32 mink caught by Sammy Chimegalrea and belongs to Letha Chimegalrea Simon.
Traditionally, Yup’iks from different areas and families each had their own parka styles. This parka is the traditional style from Piangaq, a traditional village that no longer exists today. It represents a story of the Yup’ik people. During warring times, the opposing tribe left one surviving warrior so that he would go home and tell the story to his people. The tassels that adorn the front and back are symbolic of the bow and arrow of that warring incident. Each of the tassels has fine details. The top of the tassel has a sealskin piece, below that is a piece of white calfskin. They are trimmed with a fine strip of wolf and land otter. The two strips of tassels are wolverine, the backs of which are dyed red from tree bark. The fine black line represents the bow that was placed across the chest of the warrior. The middle is adorned with beads and a small piece of red yarn, which represents the arrow. The white pieces of calfskin on the body and the underside of the arms are symbolic of the reindeer fat that the warrior was fed by his captors.
The geometric border is made of black and white calfskin pieces sewn together, which is trimmed with a strip of land otter and a strip of wolverine. The facing of the wolf ruff has a strip of land otter trimmed with wolverine.
Kelsey is wearing a traditional dance headdress adorned with beads. The fur that is sewn together is wolverine and wolf. This headdress is made by the late Cakuucin Elizabeth Tunucuk of Toksook Bay. The headdress is generally used by women during Yup’ik dancing.
Kelsey’s piluguqs are Kuskokwim style womens’ mukluks called ciivaguaqs which are made from calfskin with strips of land otter fur. The hanging tassles are made from strips of otter and the soles are made from sealskin. These piluguqs are made by a Yup’ik elder, Lucy Beaver, who is over one hundred years old.
Her mittens are by her aunt, Inuqaar Carrie Dahl of Nunapicuaq. The fur is made out of beaver with leather handles. Her traditional beaded earrings are made by the late Qak’aq Cherilyn Neck of Bethel, are called agluarutet hang from earlobe along the jawbone to the next earlobe. She is also a wearing beaded necklace made by her cousin Mataralria Allison Dahl. Her necklace reflects the Yup’ik primary colors red, white and black. Red signifies our lifeblood and connects us all as one, white signifies the heavens which represents light in the afterlife, and black represents nighttime and the unknown in the realm of the underworld.
Kelsey is wearing a traditional Kuskokwim style qaspeq that she sewed herself with the guidance from her Yup’ik elder and mentor Julia Cakuli Street of Toksook Bay. Over her qaspeq, she is wearing a traditional dance belt worn by women. This dance belt is called Cipnermiutalek Naqugutpiaq and is made by Chuna McIntyre of Eek. This belt is adorned with black swan feet leather decorated with traditional Yup’ik colors of red, white, black, and rust. It is decorated with swan bones, bone and crystal beads with walrus ivory buttons etched with the Yup’ik design called ellanguaq which represents the universe, the earth, and people. The dot in the center of two circles represents the people living in the center of the universe.
Ciugun Kelsey Wallace is Yup’ik Eskimo from Bethel, Alaska on the Kuskokwim River. Her parents are John and Cingarkaq Sheila Wallace. She has a younger brother and best friend, Cungauyar Alfred Wallace. Her maternal grandparents are the late Caliaq Moses Mojin and Ciukaq Mary Mojin whom Ciugun is named after. Her paternal grandparents are Shirley Wallace and the late John Wallace. Ciugun is 19-years-old and is honored to represent her family, friends, community members as well as the Kuskokwim region.
Kelsey is a 2010 graduate from the Bethel Regional High School with high honors. Currently, she is attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is pursuing a degree in Public Relations and Communications. After completing her program, she plans to provide a voice and representation for Alaska and serve as an advocate for the Native people of Alaska.
Kelsey loves spending her time keeping active. She enjoys working out, running, and being actively involved in many different activities important to her. Kelsey attended Ayaprun Elitnaurvik Yup’ik Immersion school in Bethel for seven years where she learned how to read, write, and speak Yup’ik and continues to build on her Yup’ik fluency. Attending the immersion school has taught her Yup’ik values of knowing your heritage language, customs and the importance of passing them on to the next generation. In addition, it has given her the love of traditional Yup’ik dancing. She is the first generation in her family lineage to participate in Yup’ik dancing and bringing it back into the culture to help revitalize it. Today, she enjoys learning about other cultures, traditional and contemporary dancing, and theatre.
Kelsey’s platform is fostering the importance of self-motivation and the self-confidence to live successfully in today’s world. She believes that we can draw from our inner strength to build motivation and confidence which need to be fostered from a very young age. Kelsey believes that providing a healthy family environment is essential to develop life skills so that the younger generation of Natives will emerge as leaders within their school, community, region, and state for strong representation and voice.
Kelsey’s active involvement in sports, academics, student council, and extra-curricular activities has earned her awards for leadership and services in local, statewide, and national platforms. Among her achievements she served as an Alaska student internship in Washington D.C. for the Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski, was awarded the Alaska Student Leader of the Year Award by the Alaska Association of Student Governments, and served on the Alaska Native Education Panel at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention by delivering a statewide speech representing the youth on the importance of education. Kelsey was awarded the 2010 BP Principle and Commissioner Scholarship selected by the Alaska Commissioner of Education based on student success and commitment. She served as a Representative of Resident Leadership Council for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is the University of Fairbanks Leader for Suicide Prevention, and is the Alaska Leader of Raising Student Voice and Participation.
In July 2011 Kelsey entered her first Pageant: Miss Kuskokwim. After becoming Miss Kuskokwim she then competed in the 2011 Miss World Eskimo Indian Olympics Pageant in Fairbanks. She became Miss WEIO on July 26, 2011 after sweeping all events, Miss Congeniality, Miss Photogenic, Most Cultural, and tied for Most Talented.
During her reign as Miss WEIO, Kelsey has participated in many events across the State of Alaska, including volunteering at Festival of Native Arts, the Cama-i Festival in Bethel, Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, as well as many visits to Senior Centers, Schools, and other organizations.
Kelsey credits her achievements to self-motivation to achieve her personal best and active involvement on issues important to her.
The talent show exhibits the differing talents and skills that the ladies showcase to the judges in the Miss WEIO pageant. Each lady did a real nice job showing their stuff! Here Kelsey performs her favorite song and dance for the Judges and the spectators. This is the low quality version. As soon as I find high quality I’ll upload it. It was a truly exciting performance giving the whole perspective the dance and regalia. Of course Kelsey wow’ed them all to a great applause!
Kelsey’s talent is singing and dancing to a traditional Yup’ik song “Cayuurlakunguur” which is an ancient Yup’ik song and dance from the Kuskokwim region. For her talent, she will first sing “Cayuurlakunguur” to open her performance to reflect the traditional Yup’ik dancing of Mengluni, which is sung at the beginning of Yup’ik dancing. Mengluni simply means, the beginning. She will then explain the meaning behind her dance, the significance of why she chose this dance, and will then explain her traditional dance regalia. In a traditional dance, Mengluni is sung softly and slowly before dancing begins. The dance starts slowly and softly and builds momentum then ends with Pamyua, which is the tail end of the dance. Kelsey will dance to Cayuurlakunguur sung by Pamyua, the tribal artists from her region and Greenland and will be accompanied by a drummer. Kelsey dedicates her dance to the revitalization of Yup’ik dancing in her region and to the memory of those who no longer were permitted to participate in traditional Yup’ik dancing.