our story

AMSC’s mission is to support the continuance and practice of Alaska Native and American Indian spiritual, ceremonial, cultural, and indigenous subsistence and medicinal practices; and to coordinate, promote, and facilitate Ceremony and its spiritual leaders.

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Chief Marie Smith Jones

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Chief Gerald Ice

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Gilly Running

Our story

The Alaska Midnightsun Sundance Council (AMSC) was founded in 2018 through a partnership of leaders, elders, veteran Sundancers, and various community members in Alaska, South Dakota, and Pacific Northwest.  Among other missions, AMSC works to bring Chief Marie Jones' and Chief Crazy Horse's visions into this world, and to work toward cultural revival for the betterment of all involved.​

Our story is told through the stories of the leaders below:

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Chief Marie Smith Jones

 

Chief Marie was born in Cordova, Alaska, and was an honorary chief of the Eyak Nation. She was the last surviving speaker of the Eyak language of Southcentral Alaska. She was an honorary chief of the Eyak Nation and the last remaining full-blooded Eyak. Her name in Eyak is udAch' k'uqAXA'a'ch, which means "a sound that calls people from afar."

 

Chief Marie had nine children, but they did not learn to speak Eyak due to the social stigma associated with it at the time. She worked with linguist Michael Krauss to compile an Eyak dictionary and grammar. Later in life she became politically active, and spoke twice at the United Nations on the issues of peace and indigenous languages. She died in 2008 at age 89. (See Guardian article on her contributions).​​

Sometime in the early to mid 1990's, Chief Marie had a vision of the Sundance ceremony being held in Alaska. 

It was her wish to have Alaska and its people benefit from this sacred ceremony. Over the past 20+ years there have been many discussions on how to bring this vision into this world, and today the vision is coming to fruition.

 

The land for this to take place has been offered in Delta Junction, Alaska at the Stevens Village IRA Council Bison Ranch. The ranch is located on Athabascan land, which calls for us to honor the tribal people of that land. Intercessors, leaders, singers, firemen, helpers, Elders, veteran Sundancers, and support volunteers are available and committed to this effort. Many of the supplies needed for the ceremony are already available in Alaska. ​​​

Chief Gerald Ice

Chief Gerald Ice-Crazyhorse is a Rosebud Lakota, Vietnam War veteran, culture bearer, grandfather, spiritual leader, Intercessor, and elder. He is a descendant of Crazy Horse, the holy man and leader who fought the U.S. government with Red Cloud in an effort to hold claim to the Black Hills and surrounding areas, and to preserve the lifestyle and traditions of the Lakota people.

Gerald was born and raised on the Rosebud Reservation, and lived most of his life in Wounded Knee, South Dakota. He now resides at the Hotsprings Veterans Home in South Dakota.

Gerald is a fluent Lakota speaker and culture bearer. He traveled across Turtle Island and internationally to share Lakota ways of being and leading people in traditional ceremonies. 

Gerald took interest in leading the Alaska Sundance. He believes that the last of his tasks here on Mother Earth is to bring to life Crazyhorse's vision of preserving these sacred ways, bringing the seven sacred rites of the Lakota people, including the Sundance, to all four directions: East, West, North, and South. Alaska represents the last of the directions needed to mend the sacred hoop. 

 

While residing in the veteran's home, Gerald said he felt sad that he might not be able to complete this final task. TJ Ravenwolf replied, "You are our leader, Crazyhorse. You led the war cry. We are your warriors. We will carry it all forward in a good way to help you." Gerald replied, "Wasté, wopila, hoka hey!" (Good, thank you, let's go!)

 

Gerald said that Crazyhorse said he would have revenge, which will come to his people and all peoples though acts of love like this Alaska Sundance. Gerald believes that health, healing, happiness and harmony can come through the power of prayer and ceremony.

 

​We at AMSC are honored to be a part of continuing his dream.

 

Gilly Running

Gilly Running is a Sicangu Lakota father, grandfather, singer, medicine man, intercessor, and elder.

Gilly was born in 1956 in Parmalee, South Dakota and currently lives on the Rosebud Indian Reservation with his wife Melody. Son of respected and revered Elmer Running, Gilly has been singing and taking part in traditional ceremonies since early childhood. He has been a powwow dancer for his whole life. He is a quiet, humble, honorable man who watches and strives to keep things on track in a good way. Gilly has been Sundancing for 45 years and has helped in various capacities at countless Sundances all over Turtle Island (continental North America). 

The Ironwood Hilltop Sundance was started in Rosebud in 1979 by Gilly's father Elmer. Gilly has been running the Sundance since 1990.

Gilly was born into these ways and keeps his focus on the spiritual Red Road, not being swayed by materialistic or monetary temptations. At the Iktomi Oyate, he maintains a clear path for others to come and pray in the Sundance way of life.