The current issue of Anchorage-based monthly F Magazine, which covers arts, music and culture throughout Alaska, is a hop-hop theme issue inviting readers to "explore Alaska's urban culture with our in-depth look at the 49th state's hip-hop and rap scene."
It features a four-page spread on Inupiaq performance artist, playwright and rapper Allison Warden, who is creating a Forum-supported hip-hop album titled Inupiaq Ingenuity Through Time—An Oral History Made Fresh for the Youth.
“Before, the elders were in charge of passing on history, but now they are focusing on other things. They’re worried about hunting and subsistence instead. There are very few voices now to relate to our perspective,” Warden told F Magazine contributor Riza Brown.
“We’re like an endangered species. We have a responsibility to fight for our culture, to actively learn the language and the ways of the land, because if we don’t, we will lose all of that.”
Also in the story, Warden relates the mind-bending experience of being one of only two Inupiaq she knew to be living in New York City.
What tripped me out was that out of eight million people, there were only two Inupiaq. Me and Andrew MacLane [a well-known filmmaker and playwright from Barrow]. He lived on the other side of town so we rarely got to see each other. I felt, more than ever, that I had to be the most village I could possibly be. I would call my cousin three times a week so I wouldn’t lose my accent. It was really scary for me because it put into perspective how small my community actually is.
In addition to working on Ingenuity Through Time, Warden is finishing up “Calling All Polar Bears,” a 30-minute performance art show that addresses global warming and the resulting loss of sea ice in the Arctic.
Earlier this year Warden previewed a hip-hop piece from the show Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities James Leach during his May visit to Alaska. In the song, “Where Did All the Ice Go?”, Warden raps from the perspective of a drowning polar bear.
Leach praised the piece as “haunting, powerful, thoroughly original work.”