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Airdate: May 24, 2001
Scientist: Orville Huntington (Interview)

Alaskan Native Fish Camp

Alaskan Native Fish Camp
Every year, native elders attend Kalukak Bay Fish Camp in Alaska to preserve the traditions of the Yup'ik Nation.


When Alaska's Bristol Bay starts its slow thaw in late May, Native Yup'ik people gather at the Kulukak Bay Fish Camp. They’re breathing new life into their traditions and connecting Yup’ik knowledge and ways with their children’s public schooling. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

ambience: walking in mud, sound of birds

Before the first salmon run, teachers, families and elders gather at Kulukak Bay to share stories and learn about Native ways. At a visit to an old village site, science educator Jerry Lipka asks Elder Charlie Chocknok how long ago he lived here.

Lipka: Yup’ik dialogue ...“So it’s sixty, seventy years since he’s lived here.”

Elders talk about how they used to trade fish for other goods. Sa-sa Peterson, a Yup’ik teacher, explains.

"Back then, they used to trade tea and flour. The Natives used to bring in their furs, or whatever, to trade.

ambience: sound of people walking through water

Searching through the mud flats for delicious cockles, or scavenging along the seashore for eggs of spawning herring, are all part of the day's activities.

Yup'ik traditions are in danger of being overshadowed by Western culture and ideas. One of the ways the Yup'ik have managed to reaffirm their culture is by attending this fish camp. Here a number of elders converse in their native tongue.

ambience: Elders talking

Our thanks to Kathy Turco for the sounds of the Kolukuk Bay Fish Camp.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.