49 Voices: Benjamin Agimuk of Bethel

Benjamin Agimuk of Bethel (Photo by Krysti Shallenberger, KYUK – Bethel)

This week we’re hearing from Benjamin Agimuk in Bethel. Agimuk is originally from Chevak and is part of several Native dance groups as a yuraq drummer. He performed at this year’s Cama-i Dance Festival.

AGIMUK: There’s just dancing going on all the time. Everybody’s vibes are up. It’s all just positivity and it feels great to be around all that positivity.

We use a lot of energy to drum and sing, and even if we use a lot of energy, it’s used as stress relief. We always feel better after we drum. When I’m feeling down myself, I just take my drum and just break a couple sticks if I have to.

But if I’m pretty chill and mellowed out, I like to move my body. I like to dance. I try to, depending on the song, I try to make a show. Make people smile, laugh. Make them enjoy themselves and enjoy the show. Just give them something to smile and laugh about.

Depending on the season… summer time, I’m fishing all the time. Spring time, I’m hunting out in the ocean. Winter time, that’s my yuraq time.

So, there’s a song called Seal Boy. That’s one I like to do. There’s another one composed by my friend Ryan Erik of Chefornak called “Kaaka qalriq.” There’s a new song I just made, I like that too, called “Ii-yuranga.” There’s also another made by Brendan John called “Ayagarluanga qalrirlianga.”

I don;t know, it’s just a song. I took my drum and just sang anything that came to my mind. There are some songs that are just chants.