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Jack Dalton - "Cup'Lauraq"

The Bridge Between Two Worlds

Jack Dalton is the next generation of shaman. Born half-Yup’ik Eskimo and half-German 27 years ago, Jack was raised in Anchorage by a non-native family. In the interest of knowing something of his heritage, his parents bought many books of traditional stories and read to him throughout his childhood. He was told at a young age of his adoption. This distilled in him the determination to someday meet his parents.

Meanwhile, a creative imagination was growing and Jack won his first storytelling honors at age 7. And while, in the following years, he pursued creative writing, he did not tell stories for a long time.

It so happened Jack was invited as a presenter to the 1996 World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference: Education in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During the Opening Ceremonies, he was dismayed to learn that no-one was scheduled to tell a story, which seemed to him preposterous, since all the cultures represented owed their heritage to oral traditions. Before he knew it, he was telling a story, The Beginning and The End, to an audience of 3000, unrehearsed. The story received a standing ovation, set the tone of the conference, and Jack was honored, among many reasons, as a storyteller. His presentation, How Raven Reacted to the Periodic Table of Elements: Ancient Traditions and Modern Education, packed 150 people into a room set-up for 25. According to conference organizers, it was the largest attendance for a presentation of its kind and another session was arranged for those who couldn’t get in.

Those experiences helped Jack realize his purpose in life was as a storyteller and a teacher. He began exploring ways of fulfilling this purpose.

His first project was “one world-worldwide,” an inter-national grass-roots organization which helps people realize world peace through personal peace. It has been a modest success, with six small chapters in six countries. Jack’s hopes for “one world” are still high, but are, for the moment, not the focus of his attention.

His next project began in December of 1996 and was completed in July of 1998; a 100,000 word novel, his first, entitled Gemini. Jack has self-published 50 copies. One-hundred and fifty copies are currently in production.

In March of 1998, Jack was invited as an honored guest to a “one world” function in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. There he retold the story The Beginning and The End.

In June of 1998, he performed at the International Storytellers Festival in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. The performance of his contemporary story, Why I’m Sitting On This Mountain, drew the largest crowd of the festival and received a standing ovation.

In December of 1998, Jack began recording his stories for the Anchorage produced, nationally syndicated radio show, Stories of Our People.

In May of 1999, Jack was in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, as the first guest Artist in Residence for the Calgary Board of Education. He will perform and conduct storytelling workshops over the course of two weeks.

In August of 1999, Jack attended the 1999 World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference: Education in August on Hawai’i’s Big Island. There, he was honored as a Distinguished Dignitary of the World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education. He was one of 50 chosen from over 2700 delegates from 25 countries. And he was by far the youngest. When asked how he feels about being honored practically as an elder on the worldwide stage, Jack replied, "I don't know how or where the gifts I've been given come from, but if I can offer something to the world, I will do my best." Jack gave two feature performances at Hilo's Palace Theatre, as well as conducting a seminar entitled The Evolution of Tradition.

Some of Jack’s other honors include receiving an honorary Master’s Degree from the International Pedagogical University of Magadan, Russia, for his paper and presentation, Not Just Looking North, Looking Everywhere: The Role of Higher Education in the Economic Future of the North; being a guest columnist for the Anchorage Daily News; being President of the Student Body at UAA; and delivering the 1996 UAA Commencement Address. He was an exchange student to Sweden in 1990/91 and speaks fluent Swedish.

Jack met his natural mother and her family in 1995. Upon visiting their village of Hooper Bay, he was given a Yup’ik name: Cup’Luaraq. It is his grandfather’s name, the last apprentice shaman of the Paimiut people. His mother explained to him, “You see, Cup’Luaraq means Little Reed Pipe. You see, when we are walking with the land and we need to drink, we use Little Reed Pipe. You see, when we are swimming with the water and need to breathe, we use Little Reed Pipe. You see, Little Reed Pipe is the bridge between two worlds. Jack, you are the bridge between two worlds.”

Jack is currently living in Anchorage, Alaska, where he writes, teaches, and travels from. His small production company, Raven Feathers & the Wind, is based in Anchorage as well.

All information, programs, titles, images and design are Copyright 1999 by Jack Dalton