Masking in Port Graham

As told by Sergius Moonin to Luba Anahonak

Masking started along time ago, before the Russians came. Masking happens in the wintertime. Aleuts didnít know the months long ago, they only knew the weeks. They counted 7 days. They used to mask in the wintertime for 12 days. Every evening they used a mask.

They made masks out of boards and seal skins. There was music and drums. Every night they masked for 12 days, 12 nights, till 12 midnight.

Then when they quit, all their equipment would be placed away for next year. They would hide their masks, (boards, seal skins, and hats.) Everybody had a good time.

I donít know what got this started. Russia must have found out from the Aleuts. Maybe the Russians knew, maybe the Aleuts found it. Me myself, I donít know.

This Bishop told me, ďKeep it up.Ē Other Priests told me to quit masking. The Bishop told me not to quit, keep it for a souvenir.

The masking was held in sheds. There were no houses, only barabaras. They danced in the barabaras. In one big barabara there was a lot of people.

Long time ago, Yalik was the capital. English Bay was the next capital. People moved from Windy Bay, Port Chatham, Dogfish Bay, and Yalik to English Bay. There were 600 people in English Bay one time. They were all Aleuts.

They dress up when they mask, so no one will recognize them.

Their months used to go by the moon. In the middle of winter, when someone would talk about the moon, someone would say itís time.

Itís kept up here, and on the Aleutian chain. This Bishop said to keep it up. That itís a souvenir from your great, great grandpaís past.








Copyright 1981,Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.All rights reserved

Volume 2