Alaska’s Famous Inuit Band PAMYUA to Perform April 12

The Alaskan Inuit band, Pamyua, at a concert.

April 03, 2024
Gonzaga University News Service

Alaska’s most famous Inuit musical group, Pamyua (pronounced bum-yo-ah), is bringing their unique sound, blending tribal funk and soul, to a performance at the Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center at Gonzaga University on April 12 at 7:30 pm.

A featured artist in the Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center Spring 2024 series, Pamyua brings Indigenous culture and music to the forefront of mainstream entertainment. The group is known for their compelling, interactive performances that blend the traditional Inuit songs and drum dances of their Yup’ik/Black heritage with contemporary soul and R&B, often referred to as “tribal funk” or “Inuit soul”.

Pamyua’s concerts showcase the Indigenous Inuit cultural traditions and stories of their biracial ancestors through music and ceremony passed down through the generations.

Their unique style and sound derive from combining traditional Yup’ik melodies with contemporary vocalization and instrumentation, paired with traditional dances and the artful inclusion of symbolic, Native masks.

Founded by brothers Phillip and Qacung Blanchett, the group includes fellow member "Ossie" Kairaiuak (a distant cousin) and frequent guest members. Pamyua expresses the ceremonies and culture of the Yup’ik through a modern lens, incorporating popular music and dance into their performances, yet staying true to their Inuit heritage.

Described as “one of the 10 greatest Alaskan artists of the millennium” by Alaska Magazine, Pamyua is also known for bringing the indigenous sounds of Alaska to television, as heard in their musical contributions to such esteemed shows as ABC’s “Alaska Daily” with Hilary Swank, Nat Geo’s Emmy-winning “Life Below Zero: First Alaskans,” Discovery Channel’s “Flying Wild Alaska,” and PBS’ “Molly of Denali.” Recently, the group was also commissioned by the Library of Congress to provide a music video and oral history for the Library’s American Folklife Center, where it is now online and available free to the public in their permanent archive.

"We are deeply committed to honoring cultural identity. It is a privilege for us to contribute to the community, sharing the richness and uniqueness of Indigenous culture and experiences. As artists, we celebrate the joyous spirit of our Inuit heritage, showcasing the music, dance, and ancestral traditions that define us," says Phillip Blanchett, co-founder of Pamyua. 

“Participating in this program offers us a wonderful opportunity to share the captivating stories of our Yup'ik heritage with diverse audiences. We work to foster meaningful understanding and respect for diversity, inspire unity, and strengthen the bonds that connect us all.”

Local performing artists James Pakootas and CarliAnn Forthun Bruner of The Scattered Roots Collective will be opening the show for Pamyua with a performance of “Coming Home”, a multimedia stage production that explores what it means to be Indigenous by presenting stories of intergenerational trauma transformed into new cycles of intergenerational healing.


When: Pamyua will perform on Friday, April 12 at 7:30 pm.

Where: The Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center Coughlin Theater, 211 E. DeSmet Ave. in Spokane.

Tickets: Reserved seat tickets are $18-$36 for the general public and $15 for Gonzaga University students (while supplies last), and are available at the link below or by visiting the Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center Box Office Monday – Friday 12 p.m.-5p.m. or by calling 509-313-2787.

Click here to get tickets to the Pamyua concert!