Three-year old Urijah Zach Aries Washington of Stebbins, Alaska, burst into traditional Native dancing while waiting for an Alaska Airlines flight in Anchorage earlier this month.
His dance, captured on video by a waiting passenger, struck a chord with many Alaskans and has been shared, liked and viewed by thousands on social media.
His mother, Kaylene Washington, told the Alaska Native Heritage Center her boy “loves to sing and dance.”
She said her son was mesmerized after watching Native dancers perform in Stebbins, a traditional Yup’ik Eskimo village with a commercial fishing and subsistence lifestyle. It is located on St. Michael Island in western Alaska’s Norton Sound.
“One night, he stood in front of the singers and dancers and just watched. He also sat on his great-grandfathers lap while he was singing and drumming. Another night, he stood and watched the dancers and after those two nights, he has been singing and drumming daily,” Washington recalled.
“Every day, he’d wake up at 6 in the morning and watch his favorite videos of dancing,” Washington said of her son. “He watches dancing from all over Alaska. he would rather watch Eskimo dancing videos than anything else a three-year-old would want to watch. He is amazing. He is blessed. He has this talent that I never thought he would be doing. He does it by himself, too. I love it and I love him so much. He is singing and dancing as I type this.”
Urijah comes from a long line of Native dancers, including his great-grandfather, George Washington Sr, who is a singer and drummer from Stebbins. His mother was also raised around traditional dancing, first performing in the third grade.