By drumming, singing and dancing, a traditional spirit master enters a trance state and calls on spirit allies as guides to address some problem. By trickery, magic, or mystery the master accomplishes the needed healing or solution. The indigenous community that surrounds and supports the healer both fears this power, yet considers the sacred powers a last resort when all else fails. In a globalizing world beset by environmental challenges, the spirit world may provide a reservoir of restorative power in the circumpolar North. This original curriculum by Kathleen Osgood and Eleanor Kokar Ott from The Center for Circumpolar Studies provides an inquiry into the spirit worlds and spirit masters in the North, alongside experiential discussions and a student-designed final project in any medium.
Throughout the world, storytelling has served to transmit knowledge and illumine the nights. In many indigenous cultures, this tradition is still active, embodied in the stories themselves, or in music, masks and other art, dance, ritual, and food. Furthermore, the ecological narratives on which stories are based may be a key to cultural resilience in the face of environmental damage and encroaching climate change. Stories and Storytelling examines the oral traditions of northern peoples in all of its manifest aspects. In addition to studying the folklore and ecology of stories, songs, and traditions of northern peoples, students will prepare storytelling events, a portfolio of tales of their own collecting and devising, and a production in the culminating Qaggiq Theater.