Qaluyaat/Nelson Island

The place names and stories on this website were shared both during a three-week trip around Qaluyaat in July 2007 and as part of elder gatherings following that trip between 2007 and 2010.

Our July circumnavigation began when twenty elders, students, and village helpers, along with CEC staff David Chanar, Alice Rearden, and Ann Fienup-Riordan, as well as three additional scientists—geologist June McAtee, biologist Tom Doolittle, and archaeologist Steve Street—gathered at Umkumiut, a summer fish camp located three miles west of Toksook Bay. Our group included men and women, old and young, Yup'ik and non-Yup'ik. Many were related as cousins, sisters, in-laws, and friends, and we quickly jelled into a tight working group.

We did not set out to document place names. Rather, the places, their names, and their stories were what elders thought we needed to know. The way they decided we could best learn about their land and how they could best teach us was to travel through it together. They knew that what they could tell us would blend with the day-to-day experiences of camp life from which we would also learn, including the practical work of feeding ourselves from the land and finding shelter there. Qaluyaarmiut elders believed that both non-Native scientists and young Nelson Islanders could learn what they needed to know only through the combined experience of traveling and listening to their stories.

Elders took turns speaking at sites they knew from personal experience. The stories they shared focused on their relationship to the place—what she or he saw, did, thought, felt, and heard there. Their stories extended the personal experiences and relations they described. For example, listening to Rita Angaiak of Tununak tell of her gratitude when she returned to where her mother and sister were buried—a place she had not visited for more than fifty years—we learned the history of the place. Her moving words also enriched our relationship both with her and with her sisters, who were there listening to her story.

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Tua-i antelaranka ugg'un map-akun/I've been revealing stories through this map

Akwaugarpak qanemcitlaramci tua-i pipiaruata tua-i tamakut qanemcillrit augkut angayuqama tua-i pipiarullruata tua-i antelaranka ugg'un map-akun. Qemangqamaaqekenka maa-i anerpagtut tua-i maa-i qemangqamaqenganka.

I've been telling you stories since yesterday since the stories that my parents told were true; I've been revealing them through this map. The things I had kept inside for a long time are now coming out, the things I have kept [in my memory] for a long time.

About Translations

Tommy Hooper, Tununak

NI 6

Nelson Island with our July 2007 circumnavigation route marked by a red line starting at Umkumiut and going counterclockwise around the island