Novoye Chaplino, Russia — Olga Letykai took the stage this summer in her usual performance attire, dressed from head to toe in seal skin, white fur at her cuffs, beaded headband on her forehead, traditional markings on her face.
For those who had never heard Letykai before, what happened next was probably a surprise. While the frigid wind on the Bering Sea coast carried along an occasional call of a seagull, that was soon joined by the unearthly — and almost indescribable — sounds of Letykai’s throat singing: deep guttural noises mixed with heavy growling and panting, followed by sharp, bird-like trills.
NOVOYE CHAPLINO, Russia — The indigenous Chukchi and Inuit people of Russia’s far east province of Chukotka usually gather at this time of year, when the Bering Sea is ice-free and the weather hovers around a balmy 50 degrees, for their annual skin boat regatta.
One story in a two-part series with Al Jazeera America that focused on indigenous games in the circumpolar north.