Aassanaaq “Ossie” Kairaiuak
Cultural Affiliation: Yu’pik
“Give Ossie something, and he will turn it into art”. -older late brother, Apanguluk C. Kairaiuak
Aassanaaq “Ossie” Kairaiuak is a gifted Yup’ik artist from Chefornak, Alaska whose traditional upbringing by practicing his ancestors’ beliefs and speaking his native language have gifted him with a particular worldview and a commitment to keep his culture alive through the Arts.
“My parents inspired me through stories of my ancestry, of great hunters whom I aspired to become one day and how they themselves served as living examples of those traditional values they taught us. I admire them for they were the last to have been raised in the Old Yup’ik Way. When given an opportunity I use my hands, my (Yup’ik) Voice, or express what I am inspired by either way, and I feel very much alive when I am able to accomplish such a task. I try to harness those old beliefs with stories surrounding them, in a medium best suited to be expressed in; then I try to weave those in, largely through gut instinct and through a thought process.”
This way, it gives Ossie a fore thought of his place in his ancestry, his presence, and the future and where he can continue to fit in. Ossie makes Drums, mask & ivory carvings, traditional songs for individuals, or groups upon request, written short plays (& composed scores for them), artwork placed in categories, local and national events, founder of a traditional Yup’ik Dance Group Acilquq (& with them host a weekly Dance Practice at Local Native Hospital) and a member of an internationally known tribal funk group Pamyua.
Having said of such diverse talents (& collaborated with other artists), Ossie has an exciting positive outlook of how his Yup’ik Culture can fit in and add to a richer thought process that is as old as this Traditional Yup’ik Belief/Proverb Nutmllaq Concept: how the Natural World dictates how we act, think, feel, and express it by continuing to actively engaging in it.
See Ossie’s work here: