Woman works to turn fry bread into dough for Woosh.ji.een Dance Group

Atricia Makaily raising money to help dancers perform in Hawaii

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2007

Atricia Makaily has a pretty simple list of ingredients for her fry bread: flour, sugar, water, milk, eggs, yeast, butter, salt.

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But put it all together, and the result is complex. It's a tasty sweetbread, but also a symbol for Native American culture.

This weekend, Makaily made fry bread to raise money for the Woosh.ji.een Dance Group. The group has been invited to perform before thousands of people in October at a conference for Native educators in Hawaii.

The group received funding help from Native corporations and the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, but the members are trying to raise more to defray travel costs for about 20 performers. Anyone interested in contributing to the group should contact Lyle James at 321-5314.

"It's storytelling," Makaily said. "We're also going to do some love songs. And we're going to do some drum routines.

"Nowadays, most of the dance groups only do the old songs that have been passed on through the generations. But our group has new songs that are being composed. We'll do those songs too."

For more information

To help fund the Woosh.ji.een Dance Group's performance in Hawaii, contact Lyle James at 321-5314.

Makaily, 50, has been in Juneau since 1969. Her family moved here from Oregon so her father could work in education. Years later, she has two daughters and is married to an Aleut man she met in junior high school.

Makaily was a Cherokee Chippewa Blackfoot by birth, but she was adopted into Tlingit culture.

"The only culture I've ever known is the Alaska Native culture," she said. "To me, I'm more Tlingit than Lower 48."

A member of the Eagle Wolf Clan, Makaily said she practices arts and crafts, singing and dancing. But her day job is a world of numbers. She's an accountant for the state Department of Labor.

It makes for a busy schedule. But she still fits in time for the fry bread, whether it's for a snack or to raise money for the Woosh.ji.een dancers.

"It's a sweetbread, so everybody likes it like candy," she said. "For every Native meal, you're going to see some kind of fry bread."

• Ken Lewis can be reached at 523-2263 or by e-mail at ken.lewis@juneauempire.com.

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