Alaska’s Bieber: Teen singer gains online following

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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — He could be considered the Justin Bieber of Alaska.

Teen Internet sensation Byron Nicholai is a Yup’ik Eskimo from Toksook (TUCK’-sook) Bay, a tiny community on Nelson Island just off Alaska’s mainland in the Bering Sea. It’s about 525 miles west of Anchorage.

The 17-year-old high school senior performs songs that blend traditional Yup’ik and English. He has more than 22,000 followers on the Facebook page “I Sing. You Dance,” where he posts videos of himself singing and drumming.

Last weekend, Nicholai performed at the University of Alaska Southeast campus in Juneau as part of a program that prepares indigenous teachers for Alaska’s schools.

He told the audience his drumming allows him to share the culture of his village, which has about 600 residents.

Among the songs he performed was one poking fun at dating in rural, sparsely populated Alaska villages. He called it the “Cousin Song.”

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