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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide

I˝upiaq RavenIñupiat Ioitqusiat

A Special Publication of Alaska Newspapers Inc.

"Those things that make us who we are"

Portrait of a People - By the People
Originally a supplement to The Arctic Sounder

Quyianniujikun Tipsisaabioiq

IMPORTANT: In order to view the pages correctly, you will need to download the Iñupiaq font (truetype) and install it on your computer. It's available as a free download from

“Wet Encounter”
Joanna Phillips
Kotzebue High School

the cold water grasped my ankles
still I walked further out
I wanted to turn back but I couldn’t
it was my turn to gather urchins
cautiously I stepped
the sea’s rocky floor scratched at my feet
on tiptoes I walked
the water rose until it was at my knees
almost there
I could see the bed where the spiny creatures lay
my right leg moved on...stepped onto solid ground
my left leg moved on...stepped on to something slimy
I caught my breath
panic filled my chest
I reached out for something, anything
slowly the water seized a hold of my entire body
water gushed up my nose
I stood up as fast as I could
my hair flew in all directions then lay plastered against my
the basket in my hand only moments before had been carried
away by the current
slowly I turned around
my cheecks burned
finally I convinced myself to walk back to shore
women and men everywhere were laughing
small children, too young to understand anything else were
embarrassment filled my body
boldly I walked away from them
a picture of myself falling filled my mind
a smile pulled at the corners of my mouth
laughter welled up inside me and finally spilled out
tears poured from my eyes and my stomach ached
I shouldn’t feel so stupid
at least everyone got a good laugh

Separation Bar

Jason Lee
Kotzebue High School

The Eskimos were happy people who lived off the land and found food in many places. At home they were serious, when they were in need of food, and other times they were happy and humorous. They used humor in the stories they told. They used humor when something funny happened. And, they used humor to try and cheer up someone who had just lost a loved one.

They used humor at the feasts where some tribes in Alaska celebrated deaths, or like in different tribes where they had feasts to celebrate the coming of a new chief. The Eskimos used to love to play games like tug of war, wrestling and trampoline games on a big sealskin with people holding the sides.

The Inupiats were very peaceful because they had to count on each other to provide and prepare food for the tribe. Only in times of hunting and fighting with other tribes did the Inupiats take on a serious side of life.End Article


Humor was very important to the Inupiaq culture during the long winter darkness. Humor helped release stress from all the hard times the Inupiaq people had to endure.

Shane Capelle
10th grade


Photos by Evelyn Karmun, Deering



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Alaska Native Knowledge Network
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Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
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Last modified October 19, 2006