In this Feb. 12 photo, performer Byron Nicholai signs his album for fans after a performance at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau.

In this Feb. 12 photo, performer Byron Nicholai signs his album for fans after a performance at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau.

Alaska’s Bieber: Yup’ik Eskimo singer gains online following

JUNEAU — He could be considered the Justin Bieber of Alaska.

Teen Internet sensation Byron Nicholai is a Yup’ik Eskimo from Toksook Bay, a tiny island just off Alaska’s mainland in the Bering Sea.

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.”

A Feb. 12 photo, a group of fans watch Byron Nicholai, a performer from the Western Alaska village of Toksook Bay, sing and play his drum in Juneau.

A Feb. 12 photo, a group of fans watch Byron Nicholai, a performer from the Western Alaska village of Toksook Bay, sing and play his drum in Juneau.

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