To assist us in our this project, we involved undergraduate students from UAA who have lived in our partner communities. They helped us to learn about local culture and customs, and gave us an additional glimpse into rural life and subsistence practices. The works posted on this page are from the writing of one such undergraduate research assistant.

Juliana Wassillie is a UAA student from Nunapitchuk who worked with us in 2008 to document cultural values and practices surrounding subsistence salmon fishing and village life. You can click here to read Juliana's full report from her research time in Nunapitchuk, and some excerpts from her writing are featured on this page.

"Year round, hunting, fishing, and berry picking has been a customary tradition since a very long time ago. Moose, caribou, seal, otter, beaver, and occasionally musk-oxen are hunted in the region. Waterfowl are also hunted in the spring season when they first arrive from the southern states and again in the fall before they leave for the winter. Bird eggs are searched for as well and are eaten regularly. The most important and back breaking subsistence done by the Yup'ik Eskimo's in Nunapitchuk is harvesting salmon fish and salmon berries in the summer. Salmon fishing is done in the intersection area of the Kuskokwim and Johnson River where they are plenty. Salmon fish, white fish, black fish, and pike are main sources of Nunapitchuk's fish food supply. Salmon berries, black berries, cranberries, blue berries, and raspberries are famous for picking and are scattered in the Johnson River area where there is mainly tundra. All my life I have been involved with subsistence activities and helping harvest food for the winter."

"Most of the residents in Nunapitchuk use rain water for drinking water. Teachers and other whites purchase their water from the store. The only buildings that have unlimited running water is the school, teacher housing (at right), and laundry mat. Some homes are man-made built of plywood and majority of these old homes are being replaced with more higher and sturdy homes."

."..Eearly Akolmiut use to hunt using spears and fished with dip nets. They use to put their catches underground to keep cool. Underground was their way of refrigerating their catch. Dried fish or other dried food items were stored in upper deck shacks that are above ground safe from minks, weasels, mice and rodents. Other food items such as salmon fish heads and whole white fish use to be buried underground to be fermented. People back in the day tried not to waste any food products for they were difficult to catch and collect. People use to have clothes made out of bird feathers sown together, animal fur such as mink, otter, seal, beaver, caribou, and muskrats. Some even had jackets made out offish skin, dried. Women were the only ones who sewed clothing, cut fish, and care for their homes, children, and fish so as they would not spoil. They made parkas and snow shoes for their family members. There were no stores then and used whatever they had to make clothing items."

"Russian Orthodox and Moravian missionaries came to the Akolmiut in the 1890's and converted most of them. As of today, all the residents in Nunapitchuk are Christians in Russian Orthodox, Moravian, or Pentecostal. The Yup'iks published the first Yup'ik dictionary in 1889. The first Akolmiut School was built in 1921. School was taught in the Moravian Church until a new school was built in 1976. Anna Tobeluk of Nunapitchuk is a hero to Nunapitchuk residents for she helped win a case to have education be taught in rural villages rather than sending their kids to boarding schools such as Chemawa in Oregon, and Edgecombe in Sitka, Alaska."