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We are people who, for thousands of years, have lived off the land. We live in harmony
with it. We’re connected to it. We’re made stronger by it.
We know that the land is our most important resource.
     30 NG
  picking fast, my siblings would fill their buckets before me. They were always waiting for me to fill my bucket.
My first bow and arrow was made by my grandpa. At that point, I looked at it as a game, but as I matured, the same things that we did for little animals were the same things we did when we were stalking bigger game: approach very quietly, and when you are within striking distance, you shoot.
When you look at the Alaska native community, especially among the Yup’ik people, the land and waters provide us with food. In the city, you go to Safeway or Freddy’s to buy groceries. You buy meat, you buy chicken. In my village, no stores like that exist, so we go out and hunt the birds, hunt the seal, hunt the moose, catch the fish. That’s what we bring to the table so we can survive.
In order to feed my mom, my brother has to fish. He has to hunt seal and moose. He has to hunt waterfowl. I think our subsistence way of life is one of the most critical things that needs to be protected in rural Alaska. Without it, I think the villages will suffer, because that’s our food.
We have this long tradition, this subsistence way of life, but the reality is that modern day subsistence takes money. You have to have gas for your boat and bullets for your gun, and in order to have those things, you have to have some sort of income. Gone are the days when you get into a canoe and, by your own power, paddle down the Kuskokwim to hunt a moose. People get in their boats to do that now. They’re combining modern technologies with traditional knowledge. And we think that they can provide for their families by combining that knowledge, that traditional way of life, with the modern opportunities that a job provides.
Nelson Angapak, Sr.
Donna Bach
Andrea Gusty
Gage Hoffman
Danica Mike
Evan Polty, Jr.
Teresa Simeon-Hunter
The Yup’ik way of being is that everyone has a role or a job. There’s always something to do or stay busy with. People are harvesting, they’re fishing, they’re sharing their food.
Living off the land keeps me connected to my roots.
I grew up doing it. My dad grew up doing it. All of my ancestors did it.
This is the land where we grew up. So even if Donlin wasn’t here, we’d be protecting our environment. Because if we take care of the land, the land will take care of us.
Every year I went hunting with my dad and my grandpa and my brother. And I was taught to always distribute the leftover meat and leftover food to elders in the community that cannot hunt for themselves.
I barter. If I don’t have herring eggs I’ll barter for herring eggs. If I want muktuk, I’ll barter for muktuk. And when my friend down coast wants blueberries I’ll trade her for salmonberries and some walrus.
I was the slowest berry picker ever. I would daydream a lot, because of how time-consuming it is. I guess that’s why it took me forever. But even when I thought I was
 Teresa Simeon-Hunter, a community family service specialist with the Association of Village Council Presidents’ Indian Child Welfare Act, picks blueberries outside of Chuathbaluk, a village whose name is derived from the Yup’ik for “the hills where the big blueberries grow.” Harvested in late summer, the fruit is often mixed with fish and Crisco (or lard) to make Akutaq – “Eskimo ice cream.”

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