The willingness of so many people to participate in this project was thrilling – we could not thank everyone individually in this short article! (However, you can Listen to Chie thank a long list of individuals on Earl Finkler's Dec. 6th KBRW program, at the 3:20 mark.) Warren Matumeak, especially, helped us to make dozens of discoveries about the songs on the recordings – who sang them first, which communities they came from, which families or singers some of them belonged to, what the songs were about, how they would have been danced or sung in the 1940s when they were recorded, and much more.
We are planning the next steps of this project, which will include the formal assignment of Columbia's ownership rights to the Iñupiat Cultural Heritage Center, and the development of a multimedia DVD of the recordings and all of the many supplementary materials, additional elder commentaries, photographs, notes, and archival history we are gathering and discovering through our work in the community. We hope to develop this resource in partnership with community educators so that the resulting production is of value for the efforts to sustain the Iñupiaq language and the community's musical heritage into future generations. We were impressed by the strength of the cultural educational effort in the North Slope, and by the energetic teachers, activists and community leaders who are leading it. We'd like this project to be valuable to the whole community, but especially valuable to those educators – and their young students.
Above all, we hope our visit will lead to more collaboration between Columbia's Center for Ethnomusicology and the Iñupiat community. Aaron and Chie are committed to continuing this project, and to working extensively in the future in Barrow and elsewhere in the North Slope with educators, elders, community leaders, and young people to fully restore, and not just return, the songs Laura Boulton recorded so many years ago. We once again wish to thank everyone in the Barrow community, and at the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium, who assisted our research and enabled our visit in November, and we plan to return again from March 14 to 22d, and again in the June.
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