Obama learns to shake a tailfeather, Yup’ik style

President Obama dances with and greets students at Dillingham Middle School on Wednesday, Sept. 2. Photo: Tara Young
President Obama dances with and greets students at Dillingham Middle School on Wednesday, Sept. 2. Photo: Tara Young

At the Dillingham Middle School, President Obama was treated to a youth cultural dance performance. The gradeschool-aged children performed four Yup’ik dances.

Obama sat on the front row, grinning throughout the performance and clapping appreciatively. The rest of the crowd was similarly enthusiastic.

The children wore Native headpieces and attire and did an admirable job staying in unison as they sang and danced. Their adult leader, Sophie Woods, explained the songs and a little bit about their culture, telling the crowd that their native language is disappearing.

Photo: Tara Young
Photo: Tara Young

One song focused on honoring berries and another featured the lyrics “Don’t be afraid to play basketball.”

Obama jumped up and danced with the children during the last song. “I’ve been practicing,” he said. Clearly the president had taken a crash course on the routine.

Afterwards, he told the crowd that he’s so happy to be here and would try to bring Michelle and the girls back.

“Keep up your traditions even as you go out into the big world and learn,” he said.

Before departing, Obama posed for a photo with the kids, nearly causing a pile-up when he asked who would help him up.

The motorcade has departed the middle school and is rolling to an unknown location.

Obama greets gradeschool-aged children at the Dillingham School. Photo: Tara Young
Obama greets gradeschool-aged children at the Dillingham School. Photo: Tara Young