Maryann Sundown

The late Maryann Sundown, Arnaucuaq (Yup’ik name), known as the Yup'ik Dance Diva of Scammon Bay, Alaska was beloved by fans of Native dance throughout Alaska and she continued to delight audiences until her death in 2011 at 93. Growing up in the remote village of Scammon Bay located north of Bethel on the coast, she learned traditional dance, weaving and doll making from her elders and spoke only Yupik.

Maryann’s sea grass baskets are woven the traditional coiled fashion of her native culture. Each fall beach grass is gathered along the shores, dried, sun-bleached and stored for weaving. Some of the grass was dyed with natural materials such as berries for the design work. Baskets were used as containers, some watertight, and later many were woven just to sell to the tourists.

Maryann passed on her traditional skills to her children and grandchildren, leaving a rich long-lasting cultural legacy.

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