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September 03 , 2010

Ellavut / Our Yup'ik World and Weather

Continuity and Change on the Bering Sea Coast


Ellavut / Our Yup'ik World and Weather is a result of nearly ten years of gatherings among Yup'ik elders to document the qanruyutet (words of wisdom) that guide their interactions with the environment. In an effort to educate their own young people as well as people outside the community, the elders discussed the practical skills necessary to live in a harsh environment, stressing the ethical and philosophical aspects of the Yup'ik relationship with the land, ocean, snow, weather, and environmental change, among many other elements of the natural world.

At every gathering, at least one elder repeated the Yup'ik adage, "The world is changing following its people." The Yup'ik see environmental change as directly related not just to human actions, such as overfishing or burning fossil fuels, but also to human interactions. The elders encourage young people to learn traditional rules and proper behavior – to act with compassion and restraint – in order to reverse negative impacts on their world. They speak not only to educate young people on the practical skills they need to survive but also on the knowing and responsive nature of the world in which they live.

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