Yupiit:Eye of Both Worlds
In the remote village of Toksook Bay, Alaska, local singer/songwriter Byron Nicholai engages a new generation of Yupik natives using rap and beatboxing. Retelling traditional stories through newer forms, he is helping young people forge a stronger connection to their cultural heritage and values, including music and dance, subsistence hunting and fishing, and protection of the environment. These life-sustaining lessons long passed down by the elders of the village, are now passed down by Nicholai, as well, in startlingly beautiful and modern ways.
Filmmaker Stephanie Alton offers a breath-taking visual expression of these messages and stories, and reveals an intimate look into village life in remote Alaska, where tradition and modernity exist side by side. It is often this conflict of traditional ways and the modernity of the outside world that brings emotional conflict into the lives of many young who are struggling with hopelessness, and often take their own lives. Nicholai’s music also addresses these problems of coping with such societal conflicts, using his inner wisdom and personal experiences to help the members of his audience through those troubling and emotional years.
Byron Nicholai, despite his youth, is wise beyond his years, and has in many ways, been an ambassador for his people, entertaining and meeting a number of leaders around the world. However, it is the modern means of communication that has introduced Byron to the world at large and to his avid fan base. It is via the Internet that he has become a superstar to those that have devotedly followed and look up to him during these times of change.
directed and produced by Stephanie Alton
music by Byron Nicholai
executive producer Priscilla Jimmie
story consultant Pam Roberts
director of photography Stephanie Alton
editing consultant Bea Geller and Pam Roberts
editor Stephanie Alton
written by Stephanie Alton • Sharon Hansen
technical consultant Cyrus Smith
sound and boom operators Priscilla Jimmie • Andrea John
production assistants Tracey Fairbanks • Priscilla Jimmie • Andrea John
translator Piiyuuk Qungurkaq-Shields
appearances Joe Asuluk • Joe Felix • Priscilla Jimmie • Byron Nicholai • Stanley Shields
dancers Raymond Chanar • Logan Charles • Nolan Charles • Teddy Charles • Wilton Charles • Faith Charlie • Nicole Charlie • Tracy Fairbanks • Beatrice Friday • Catherine John • Priscilla Julius • Brennan Lincoln • Catherine Lincoln • Alaina Mute • Jason Nelson • Byron Nicholai • Mark Pitka • Serena Simons
special thanks Cathy John • Tom Gorai • Dianne Hammer • Ruth Jimmie • Linda Washington • Maria Alirkar • Joe Asuluk • Pauline Asuluk • Nellie Jimmie • Teressa John • Sean Jimmie
special thanks Nunakauyak Traditional Council • Nelson Island School • Village of Toksook Bay, Alaska.
promotional writer Dianne Hammer
stock footage Archive.org • Census.gov • Film Connections • Pond 5 • Shutter Stock • Story Block
film “Nanook of the North” film by Robert J. Flaherty 1922 `
author “There There” Tommy Orange 2019
thanks The Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic • The White House Tribal Nations Conference • KTOO Public Media Alaska • National Public Radio • Vigdis Finnbogadottir Institute of Foreign Language • United States Arctic Youth Ambassador Conference • YouTube • The Associated Press • Arctic Circle Assembly Chairmanship • U.S. Embassy in Iceland • KYUK Public Media Alaska Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta • Toronto Star Newspaper • The Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic • KDLG Public Radio for Alaska’s Bristol Bay • Mat-Su Valley Alaska Frontiersman • Indianz.com (News outlet) • Voice of Strength Inuit Circumpolar Council – Canada
thank you to everyone that appeared in the film