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When you grow up and have pride in your village or your community, when you are
modeled by good behaviours from mentors or caring individuals, that helps instill
a sense of purpose.
     Top and Middle: Nelson Angapak, Sr., was raised in Tuntutuliak.
“We didn’t have toys,” he says. “My grandparents, especially my grandma, spent a lot of time in the winter doing string stories. I carry a string;
I always have. One of the stories that she taught us was that, in the Yup’ik community, men made nets out of sinew. When they first started a net, this is how it would look, and they would keep adding on to it.”
Bottom: Nikolai Savage is a supervisor and heavy equipment operator at a sawmill near Napaimute on the Kuskokwim River.
   shouldn’t have to pick sides or choose what hat you’re going to wear. We’re all essentially the same people, whether it’s in the political sense or the ethnological one.
After finishing college, I returned to be a schoolteacher with the Lower Kuskokwim School District for seven months. But I taught in that community, and it
was probably the most frightening but beautiful experience of my life. I guess it sort of demonstrated how much work that can and should be done.
There were four generations: our kids, us, our mom and dad, and our grandparents. We’re a very close- knit family and we – us guys, we’re mostly guys – we were always together. Not only in my family, but in
my village. I was one of the first three who graduated from grade school. I was the very first one in our family to go to high school, and because I was the only one from my village in high school, I went to a boarding school that was, at times, very hard. I barely could speak English. When I came home that spring, I told my grandfather that when I turned 16 I was going to quit school, period. He was silent for a moment, and
I can remember him saying, “I was hoping that you’re going to learn this new tongue, so that you can tell these wide eyes that we are people. People just like them, with feelings.”
When you have an opportunity to give back to that community, you do it. I think that when you fall
within that philosophy of waking up every day, going to work, finding pride in something that you feel is meaningful to you or your community, it happens all the time. People are harvesting, they’re fishing, they’re sharing their food. That’s something that you do also with knowledge and with education. I’ve received so much pride because of the community and where I’m from, and that’s true for anyone that grows up in rural Alaska. Their heart is always going to be here.
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Nelson Angapak, Sr.
Donna Bach
Nikolai Savage
Growing up in Bethel, I benefited from a solid foundation and a village that really fostered community mindedness. I had great schoolteachers throughout my public education. I graduated with
a pretty amazing class of, I think, nearly 50 students over 20 years ago. I think the state had a lot more funding to really support and facilitate a good economy, even for public schoolteachers, and I feel like I greatly benefited from that – as well as from a caring community.
I was born in Bethel and been living in Kalskag my whole life. I like it around here. It’s where I grew up and where I feel safe and where people are looking up to me to show them a good way of going in life.
When you get into the skinny of what it means to be not only a tribal member, but also a regional, or a village Corporation shareholder, it’s almost like you

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