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Directed by Leonard Kamerling, Sarah Elder

United States 1988 90 mins.

Shot in 1977, this award-winning ethnographic documentary explores the traditional dance, music, and spiritual world of the Yup’ik Eskimo people of Emmonak, a remote village at the mouth of the Yukon River on the Bering Sea coast. Dance was once at the heart of Yup’ik spiritual and social life; the bridge between the ancient and the new, the living and the dead, a person’s own power and the greater powers of the unseen world. In The Drums of Winter, the people of Emmonak express through performances and interviews how their history, social values and spiritual beliefs are woven around the songs and dances that have been handed down to them through the generations. Throughout the film, archival photographs and film footage accompany the words of early missionaries who brought with them both Christianity and cultural repression. Added to the National Film Registry in 2006, the film has been recently restored to its original cinematic quality with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation and the Rasmuson Foundation.

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.