Past, Present and Future of Alaska Native Music

Portrait of Maria Williams, UAA Professor of Alaska Native Studies.
Photo Courtesy of UAA
Portrait of Maria Williams, UAA Professor of Alaska Native Studies.
The UAF Department of Music's Circumpolar Music Series continues this semester with a presentation by guest scholar, Maria Shaa Tláa Williams. The presentation, "Past, Present and Future of Alaska Native Music" will take place on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 1 p.m. in the Davis Concert Hall. Williams will showcase characteristics and developments of Alaskan Native musics in the past, present, and future. This event is free, open to the public, and is the final event of the 2022-2023 Circumpolar Music Series!

Maria Williams was born in Tikahtnu – or Anchorage, Alaska and is an enrolled member of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska. She is of the Raven Moiety, and of the Deishetaan clan. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Music, specializing in Ethnomusicology from UCLA. The title of her M.A. Thesis is: Clan Identification and Social Structure in Tlingit Music (1989) and the title of her dissertation is Alaska Native Music: The Spirit of Survival (1996). She was a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in 1998 and researched surviving ceremonial music/dance in Alaska. She taught at the Institute for American Indian arts from 1993-1995, and at the University of New Mexico from 1999-2011 with a joint appointment in the department of Native American Studies and Music. She moved back to Alaska in 2011 and has been teaching at the University of Alaska Anchorage since 2011 in the departments of Alaska Native Studies and Music, where she is a full professor.

The Circumpolar Music Series is a new initiative led by the UAF Department of Music beginning in 2022. CMS will annually showcase artists, scholars, and musicians who identify with the circumpolar region of the world. Through performances, lectures, and hands-on activities, distinct features of northern art and music will be shared and explored. The UAF Department of Music is grateful to its generous benefactor, Catherine Madsen for her support of the Circumpolar Music Series.