Yuungnaqpiallerput / The Way We Genuinely Live
Masterworks of Yup'ik Science and Survival
- PUBLISHED: August 2007
- SUBJECT LISTING: Native American and Indigenous Studies, Anthropology
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 376 Pages, 9 x 12 in, 360 illus., 320 in color, 10 drawings
- ISBN: 9780295986692
Honorable mention for the Victor Turner Award for Ethnographic Writing from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology
Honorable mention for the 2008 William Mills Prize for Non-Fiction Polar Books
Survival in the harsh subarctic environment requires great resourcefulness and ingenuity. The Yup'ik people of southwest Alaska meet the challenge by using traditional technology and by following a philosophy that recognizes the personhood of all living things and the environment. Their use of nature's resources is a testament to the mutual respect and generosity that exists between humans and the animals, plants, land, and sea that sustain them.
Wastefulness being disrespectful, Yup'ik elders made use of every last scrap from hunts and harvests: seal guts became warm, waterproof, and breathable parkas; the skins of fish were fashioned into waterproof mittens, while their heads and entrails were stored in naturally refrigerated pits as insurance against future famine. Dried grasses became anything from insulating socks to bedding to sled rope, or even goggles to protect against snow blindness; rancid seal oil mixed with tundra moss became "Yup'ik epoxy" for caulking and gluing; and driving snow was manipulated to provide a defense against its own dangers. Although tools have changed, Yup'ik people today continue to engage in many traditional harvesting activities, using these new means to accomplish distinctly Yup'ik ends.
In Yuungnaqpiallerput / The Way We Genuinely Live, Yup'ik elders examine tools and daily-use items, explaining how they were made and for what purpose. Just as Western science relies on the testing of hypotheses, Yup'ik science developed its technologies through systematic trial and error, yielding ingenious and effective solutions to life's challenges. The elders also delve beyond the practical aspects of these artifacts to elucidate the ways in which their creation and use are part of Yup'ik cosmology and traditional spiritual values. Every item carries special significance, and the actions associated with each should be undertaken with awareness and deliberation, for nothing goes unnoticed by the consciousness of the surrounding universe. Ann Fienup-Riordan explores these manifestations of Yup'ik technology by following the seasonal cycle of harvests and ceremonial renewals, a journey revealing the beauty of these artifacts that extends beyond the aesthetic surface to connect with the living pulse of the universe.
Authors & Contributors
Ann Fienup-Riordan is the author of numerous books on the Native peoples of Alaska, including Yup'ik Elders at the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin: Fieldwork Turned on Its Head; The Living Tradition of Yup'ik Masks; Agayuliyararput / Our Way of Making Prayer; Freeze Frame: Alaska Eskimos in the Movies; Eskimo Essays: Yup'ik Lives and How We See Them; and Wise Words of the Yup'ik People: We Talk to You because We Love You. She lives in Anchorage.
Introduction: "Everything That Is Made Causes Us to Remember"
The Moral Foundations of Yup'ik Science
Qasgimi / In the Qasgi
Muraliuryaraq, Enliuryaraq, Teggalquliuryaraq-llu / Working with Wood, Bone, and Stone
Qayaq / Kayak
Cenami Up'nerkam Nalliini / On the Coast During Spring
Kuigni Up'nerkam Nallini / On Rivers During Spring
Neqliyalriit / Those Who Are Going to Fish Camp
Yaqulget Ayuqenrilnquut / Birds in Abundance
Canegnek Piliat / Things Made from Grass
Uksuarmi Pissuryaraq / Fall Hunting and Trapping
Uksumi Neqsuryaraq / Fall and Winter Fishing
Enemi Ayuqucillrat / In the Home
Tuvqakiyaraq, Kalukaryaraq-llu / Sharing, Celebration, and Renewal
…this book brilliantly accomplishes the mission of faithfully portraying the Yup'ik concept of science, or technology as a way of making prayer…. Fienup-Riordan's eloquent publication is a meaningful source for interpretation of material culture, whether for the study of contemporary groups or for the reconstruction of life ways and beliefs of past hunter-gatherers.- Études/Inuit/Studies
Every Native Studies scholar should read every work published by Ann Fienup-Riordan. She is the best contemporary Arctic ethnographer, and among the best anthropologists in the world. [This book] sets an excellent example for the rest of us working within the field of Native Studies.- The Canadian Journal of Native Studies
These two publications, Paitarkiutenka and Yuungnaqpiallerput, are fitting companions, bringing to life the deep and ancient connections between the Yupik people and their ancestral homeland.- Pacific Northwest Quarterly
This book belongs on a shelf with the classics of Alaskan anthropology. It will be an indispensable reference to all people interested in northern societies and material culture—- from future generations of Yup'ik harvesters and craftsmen, to museum curators and archaeologists who wish to better understand the remarkable objects in their care.- Alaska History