Alaska Native String Stories by David "Kitaq" Nicolai
Ignite Anchorage 3
Alaska Native String Stories
String figures, or string stories, have been found in every indigenous culture on the six populated continents. String figures from arctic and sub-arctic cultures have been considered by the International String Figure Association the most difficult string figures to construct in the entire world. As recently as five years ago, there were only four people in the state of Alaska (all Alaska Natives) who knew a large number of string figures. Recently, those four have worked hard to re-IGNITE this type of traditional storytelling.
David was born and raised in Anchorage, AK. He is of Yup'ik, Athabascan, and French Canadian descent. He went to college at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and returned to Anchorage with a mechanical engineering degree in 2007. David began learning string figures from his dad and his dad's mother when he was 12 years old, and has been performing them publicly since he was 16. He has performed for the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC, and for many schools, hospitals, and interested audiences all around the nation.