The Yup’ik people of southwest Alaska were among the last Arctic peoples to come into contact with non‑Natives, and as a result, Yup’ik language and many traditions remain vital into the twenty‑first century. Wise Words of the Yup’ik People documents their qanruyutait (adages, words of wisdom, and oral instructions) regarding the proper living of life. Throughout history these distinctive adages have guided the relations between men and women, parents and children, siblings and cousins, fellow villagers, visitors, strangers, and non‑Natives. Yup’ik elders have chosen to share these adages during Calista Elders Council gatherings and conventions since 1998 because of their continued relevance and power to change lives.
The Calista Elders Council (now Calista Education and Culture) recently spearheaded efforts at cultural revitalization through gatherings with younger community members. By describing the content of traditional instruction as well as its central motivation—“We talk to you because we love you”—elders not only educate Yup’ik young people but also open a window into their view of the world for all of us. A new introduction explores this book’s impact over the past decade.
Wise Words of the Yup’ik People will continue to serve as a valuable resource for the Yup’ik people and those who wish to learn more about their lives and values.
Ann Fienup-Riordan is an independent scholar. She is the author and editor of many books, including Hunting Tradition in a Changing World: Yup’ik Lives in Alaska Today and Yup’ik Words of Wisdom: Yupiit Qanruyutait, New Edition (Nebraska, 2018). Alice Rearden is a Yup’ik speaker and leading translator for the Calista Elders Council.
“Significant and timely. . . . Wise Words of the Yup’ik People and Yup’ik Words of Wisdom together honor the richness of oral tradition among Alaska Natives while addressing a broader audience of the next generation of Yup’ik people, scholars of various disciplines, and policymakers alike.”—Andrea D. Robertson, Pacific Northwest Quarterly
“Valuable. . . . These texts are important vehicles for both the preservation and use of Yup’ik traditional knowledge for self-determination.”—CHOICE
“This book will prove to be an important resource for scholars in the future, as well as an excellent record of Yup’ik oral culture.”—Polar Record
Table of Contents
Introduction to the New Bison Books Edition Acknowledgments Introduction Yup’ik Transcription and Translation List of Yup’ik Contributors
Elders Spoke and Young People Listened
A Powerful Mind
Boys Are Like Puppies, Ears Are Eyes, and Women Are Death
Parents and Children
Men and Women
Those Who Are Rich in Relatives: Extended Family Relations
Tuqluucaraq: The Way of Addressing One’s Relatives
The World Contains No Others, Only Persons: Yup’ik Views of Self and Other
Qanrucunailnguut: Those Who Do Not Listen and Adhere
Eyagyarat: Abstinence Practices
Making the Past Present: The Desertion of the Qasgi
Notes Glossary References Index Map. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region