Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Project Jukebox Survey

Help us redesign the Project Jukebox website by taking a very short survey!

Walter and Greta Akpik, Interview 1
Walter Akpik, Sr., Greta Akpik

Walter (Utik) and Greta (Suvluuraq) Akpik were interviewed on March 12, 1982 by Bill Schneider and Wendy Arundale at their home in Atqasuk, Alaska for the Chipp-Ikpikpuk and Meade Rivers Oral History Project. In this interview, Walter and Greta talk about traditionally used locations along the Meade River and inland from Atqasuk. They provide the Iñupiaq names of these places, how they were used, and the meaning of the place names. They also talk about caribou hunting, fishing, trapping, and traveling in the area. (IHLC Tape #00038)

The transcript with Iñupiaq spellings was completed by Kathy Itta (now Ahgeak).

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 87-101-03

Project: Chipp-Ikpikpuk and Meade Rivers Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Mar 12, 1982
Narrator(s): Walter Akpik, Sr., Greta Akpik
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Wendy Arundale
Transcriber: Katherine Itta Ahgeak
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
North Slope Borough, Iñupiat History, Language and Culture Commission
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.


Place names along the Meade River.

How people hunted caribou by driving them into the water at Qikiqtaqturuq and the qargi that was there.

Place names from the inland area between Atqasuk and Itqiuraq, and where hunting and fishing spots are in that region.

Locations between Itqiuraq and Tuqsrugruaq

Travel by boat and on foot between Sanniŋaruq and Saġvaiḷaq.

The meanings of Iñupiaq place names between Tuqsrugruaq and Aŋutigruaq.

Place name meanings from Imñaiġauġruk to Siŋillak.

Locations between Pasiksaġiaġvik and Patiktitaq.

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


Bill: Okay. This is Bill Schneider and Wendy Arundale and we're here with Walter and Greta Akpik, and today is March 12, 1982 and we're going to talk a little bit about the Meade River and the Ikpikpuk and some of the places that are important to you, and some of the history of this area. Things that we need to try and get down on the recording and on the maps so that people will know what's important out there. Walter: Isuqtuq first? Marra Isuqtuq maani. Isuqtuum Paaŋa, right here, uvvaasii Aki, Aki right here. Bill: Let's call that A-1. Walter: Itqiḷiq. Bill: Call that A-2. The reason why I'm using these numbers and the names is, so that when it's translated, that they'll get it down right. Where if I was to write it down it might be wrong. So this stands for Akpik-1, and that's after your work, and if I work with other people, then I put their sites down too. Walter: Okay. Aasiuvva maunłaqapta Qikiqtaqturuq, Qikiqtaqturuqtugut akkupak. (And when we go over here, Qikiqtaqturuq, we have reached Qikiqtaqturuq.) Greta: Kaŋiġaksraq marra miss-ługit pianiktiġitin. (You have missed the Kaŋiġaksraq area.) Walter: Too small a map. Uvva Kaŋiġaksraq uvva pisukkaluaġiga tautulliaqługu pigiga. (I would like to point out Kaŋiġaksraq but I'm having a hard time seeing it.) I can't.. Greta: Sammagguuq narvaq. (They said it is a lake.) Bill: Hard to see. Walter: Not too big, it's Kaŋiġaksraq. Greta: Narvaŋauvva pisukkaluaġaa..(They would like to know where its lake is.) Bill: What do we call this place? Walter: Kaŋiġaksraq. (lit. the edge.) Bill: Okay, we'll call it A-3, and you think somewhere in here? Walter: Yes, that one, right there. Tarvaŋŋa mikiruq tatpiŋña. Narvaŋa samma mikiruq. (The lake up there is smaller than the one on the map.)

Walter: Uvaŋŋaasii aullaqtuni..(And when you leave from that place...) Qikiqtaqturuq right here. Bill: Okay, that's A-4. Walter: Qikiqtaqturuq. (lit. has many islands.) Greta: That's our old house up there. How many years ago? Since 1940, 41, that year. We stay up there just only one year. Walter: Siŋiḷḷak (lit. just tie up boots.) That's old people, that's a hunting area long time ago. Lots of bone right here. Bill: We'll call that A-5. Have you been to that place? Walter: No. Greta: Tasamuŋaŋaitpiñ? (You haven't gone down there?) Walter: Just hunting, that's all. Greta: In the wintertime, ukiumi? Walter: Wintertime, ii, ukiumi. (Yes, in the winter.) Naniġiaqtuġvigisiññaqługu pisuugiga taamna. (I just use that place for trapping.) Greta: He never go up there in the summertime. In the wintertime he use it for trapping foxes. Walter: My father, I think he knows that one. Bill: What did your father say about that place? Walter: Bob Aqpik? Lots of bone up there, caribou, long time ago hunting right there, maybe. Bill: In the lake? Walter: Yes, lake. Lots of bone up there. Right here. Bill: Did he ever talk about the people who camped up there? Walter: Amii, taipkua ilisimagaluaġait. (Isn't it right that he knew those people back then.) Greta: No, when Pop was see that see them old time people living in there, he knows them. You know it's got a musk ox head, with whole bone at that, maybe just like Wien's dance hall down there. Maybe they got a club house, or..I mean that Siŋiḷḷak. That old time people lived there. Bill: Is that the same as qargi? Walter: Qargi, something like that. Greta: Yes, qargi, yes. At that place. It's got a floor, with some caribous, those knuckles. Bill: Just the knuckles on the floor? Greta: Yes, knuckles on the floor. Put them in the same place service like that. Maybe you can be sure to visit up there. Bill: Looks like that would be pretty hard to get up there though, huh? How did they go, the old timers, when they were getting up there? Did they just go in winter, or did they go in summer too? Greta: Because long time people usually trap by moving around, just like follow the caribous, or.. Walter: That's the caribou that they're hunting around there at the lake. That water. Pushing at the water. Long time ago. Bill: How did they do that? Where did they..were they in their kayaks? Walter: Qayaq. They use the qayaq. Bill: Which direction would the caribou come across? Walter: Some of these people are maybe pushing. Got a bunch of caribou, and... Bill: Driving them. Walter: And drive them in the water... with qayaq. Bill: Boy, that would be something so see, that area. Greta: Yes. that shoud be interesting place when you go up. Wendy: Are there any (unintel) iñuksuk there? Greta: You know those, what you call those? Walter: Yes, there's iñuksuk some place... Greta: What do you call those... the heads of those umiŋmaq. Wendy: Skulls. Greta: Yes, musk ox. It's got a mouth of where the musk ox heads. Walter: At the corner. That's a marker. Four of them. Greta: Four of them. But Walter took them down to NARL (Naval Arctic Research Laboratory) museum. Bill: He took them down to NARL. Greta: Yes. Maybe they took them to... I don't know where. Bill That's a real interesting place though. If they had qargi there, maybe people from other places came there too for wintertime. Did you ever hear anything about that? Greta: No. I never heard about it, but Walter heard from his father. Walter: My father and my grandfather. Bill: Good for hunting caribou there. Would people camp there all the time, or would they move out to go fishing? Greta: From that place? I don't know. Maybe they usually stay up there. Because they got a qargiqtaun up there. The floor. Bones. Maybe around there, too, at Meade River. Greta: This is the Meade River? Atqasuk nauŋ? (Where is Atqasuk?) People always traveling around in the summertime. They go up there with a boat when the river was too shallow, left their boat on the river, and when they can't go up there, they just start to walk. Walk, walk, walk. Try to hunt caribou skins for clothing. Maybe that's why there's people always traveling around. Not stay in Barrow all the time. Hunting. Cause they got clothing, just caribou skins.

Walter: Atqasuŋmiñ uvva aullaqtugut akkupak. Aasii Igalaamun tikitchugut uvva. Uvva uvuŋaqtugut. Igalaaq right here. Igalaamiñ aasii aullalgitchugut tarvraŋŋa. Igalaamik taamna atiqaqtuq. Nutim atiqaqtuq Igalaamik taamna taimmaŋŋa qaŋa atiqaqsimammigaat Igalaamik. (We are leaving from Atqasuk right now. And we are now at Igalaaq right here. And then we are leaving from Igalaaq, from there. That place is called Igalaaq. It has always been called that name, they have always called it Igalaaq from time immemorial.) Bill: We'll call that A-6. Walter: Igalaamiñ aasii aullalaitchugut, tatpaunłanmun aullalgitchugut'suli. Qagluuramun tikiḷgitchugut, Qagluuramun uvva tikiñŋalgitchugut, iqaluŋniaġviŋmun. Iqaluŋniaġvik taamna Qagluuramik atiqaqsimammiuq. Qaglut, qagluqaqłuni. (And now we have left Igalaaq, we are leaving towards inland again. We reach Qagluuraq, we have reached Qagluunaq, a fishing spot. This place where one fishes had the name of Qagluuraq, because it has qaglut there. (Translation unclear on qaglut). Bill: We'll call that A-7. Walter: Tarvraŋŋasuli aullalgitchugut Qagluuramiñ. Iglaugaqsiḷgitchugut tatpauŋa. Iglaugaluaqaqta Qagluuramiñ tikiḷgitchugut Nuisuġnaaŋnun. Nuisuġnaak. Nuisuġnaaŋnun tikiḷgitchugtut Nuisuġnaaŋniñ aasii tavraŋŋa aullaqapta Imnalġuaġruŋnun tikiḷgitchugut. Imnaiġuaġruŋnun tikiḷgitchugut tavraŋŋa aullaqapta, iñiut taimani inuuniaġvianun tavra tikiḷgitchugut. (We are leaving from that place again, from Qagluuraq. We are once again traveling inland. After we have been traveling for awhile, we reach Nuisuġnaaq. We have reached Nuisuġnaaq. And when we leave Nuisuġnaaq...) Bill: A-8. Walter: (...we reach Imnaaġuaġruk. We have reached this place after leaving Nuisuġnaaq, we have reached the place where people from long time ago made their living.) Bill: We'll call that A-9. Walter: Sauniupkaqtuq tavrani. Sauniġitch iñgiaktut tavrani kuuŋmi, tuttut sauniŋich iñugiakpaktut. Nunam iḷuani matulġataŋaniġait'imma, igluġruaqaqtuġlu samma tamaani sumi. Imnaiġuaġrukruŋnik taamna atiqaqtuq, nutim atiqaqsimammiuq. Tavraŋŋaasii aullalgiññapta Imnaaġuaġruk Aŋutigruagmun tikiḷgitchugut, Aŋutigruaq tikiḷgitchkikput, auluaqaqtuq taamna. (There are lots of bones there; the bones are numerous along that river; the bones of caribou are very many. They are even covered by the ground; there is an old sod house somewhere around there. That place has the name of Imnaiġuagruk; it had always been called that. And when we leave from that place again, we reach Aŋutiġruaq (lit. big man), and that place has coal.) Bill: We'll call that A-10. Walter: There's coal right there. Aŋutiġruaq. Tavraŋŋaasii aullalgiññapta aullalgitchugut. Aŋutiġruaġmiñ iglaulgitchugut kuuk tamanna sikukkivḷuni. Pisiksaġiaġviŋñun tikitchugut akkupak, that's right there, little creek, that's Pisiksaġiaġvik. Wrong name, that one. Pisiksaġiaġvik right there. (Aŋutiġruaq. And when we leave from that place, we travel from Aŋutiġruaq. We arrive at Pisiksaġiaġvik now, that's right there, little creek, that's Pisiksaġiaġvik.) Bill: A- 11. But not on the west side there. Walter: Yes. They got it wrong, that name right there. Pisiksaġiaġvik right there. Bill: What does that mean? Walter: Where somebody hunting. Greta: Maybe they're getting ready to shoot the caribou or something. Where he's pisiksaq. (Ready, in position to shoot.) Pisiksaġiaġvik.(lit. a place where one prepares to shoot.) Bill: This one's misnamed, right? Walter: Yes. That's the wrong place. Name should be here. Bill: Should be over on the east side. That's the place where people were hunting? Walter: Yes, long time. Greta: Maybe it's close to (unintel.)... Bill: Yes, pretty close. Walter: Tavraŋŋaasii Pisiksaġiaġviŋmiñ aullalgiññapta akkupak Itqiuramun tikitchugut. The name Itqiuraq. Bill: We'll call that A-12. And that refers to the creek. Walter: Yes, little creek right here. Itqiuraq. Bill: Is that this one, Walter? Walter: Yes. Bill: A-12. Greta: This side of creek, long time it burned. Bill: South side? Greta: Yes, south side. Maybe it's growing anything in that. Bill: Wonder why it burned ? Walter: I don't know, somebody people that time. Greta: Maybe people traveling in the summertime. Maybe there's lots of growing right there. Willows, long grass.

Walter: Itqiuramiñ aullalgiññapta akkupak iglauguraallakhuta tikilgitchugut Piqsaġniq, right there. (When we depart from Itqiuraq right now, we travel for awhile, and we arrive at Piqsaġniq, right here.) Greta: Maani inŋitpa? (It's not right around here?) Walter: Uvva isuanun'aglaan ittuq. (It's up to it's end.) Piqsaġniq. Bill: We'11 call that A-13. Does that refer to the creek, or a place? Walter: That little place up there. Right here. Bill: Oh yeah, that little creek right there. This is great, we're getting all these sites down. Really good. Walter: Tautulaitkaqsivḷuŋa tavraŋŋa aullaġalualgitchugut kilunmun Aġviġuraq paqinniaġaluaqtaġa paqilliaġutiuraaġaqsigiga nunauraq una.. (We were going to leave from this place inland, I was going to locate Aġviġuraq but this map..) Greta: Nauŋ Saaŋiaq? (Where is Saaŋiaq?) Walter: Saaŋiamuksaġniaġaluaqtuaguut uvva. Aġviġuraq paqitqaaġlugu. Aġviġuraq sammna, that's Aġviġuraq right here, name, that's the creek, maybe Aġviġuraq. (We were going to go to Saaŋiaq. After I find Aġviġuraq. That's Aġviġuraq right here...) Bill: A-14. Walter: Aġviġuruamiñ aullalgiññapta Saaŋiamun tikitchught. Saaŋiaq. (When we depart from Aġviġuraq, we arrive at Saaŋiaq.) Saaŋiaq tittaaliqaqtuq tavrani. Tittaaliḷigaamun tikitchught Saaŋiamun. (There is ling-cod at Saaŋiaq.) Bill: A-12. Greta: This one got tittalliq (ling-cod) too. Walter: Saaŋiaq. Bill: We'll call that A-15. Walter: I'm wrong. Maybe Sanniŋaruq that one. Sanniŋaruq right here, Saaŋiaq somewhere around here, right here. Saaŋiaq. Bill: A-15. Walter: Saaŋiamiñ aullaqapta Sanniŋaruq tikitkikput. That's Sanniŋaruq. (When we leave Saaŋiaq we arrive at Sanniŋaruq.) Bill: A-16. Walter: Tuqsrugruaq. Tuqsrugruaq, and that big coal right there, someplace. Bill: We'll call that A-17. Walter: Yes, long time ago, native... Tuqsruk. You know, sod house. Tuqsruit makua sumik pisuuvatigik. (What do they call tuqsruk?) Greta: You know, long time people used to make a house like this. They dry the mud from the ground. Wendy: Does the tuqsruk mean the sod? Greta: Yes. For the entry, for the house up there. II, inna isiġiam paaŋa. Yes. That's for the entry, for the house. Tuqsruk. Walter: That's pretty high right here, that one, pretty high. Bill: Up high in the mountain. Walter: High mountain. That's all I got for me. Bill: Okay, that's good. Wendy: Wow, that's a lot.

Greta: How far you guys go up to...go up there. Bill: Gee, I don't know. How far do you have to go before you leave your boat? Walter: (Unintel.) not much water. Kind of shallow right there. Greta: Maybe you might see someone's grave up there, where Saaŋiaq.. Walter: Yes, long time ago people, somebody right there. Maybe boat right here, maybe going up to look around at people way up there, walk, nanmakhutik, tavraŋŋa nanmakhutik Sanniŋrum paaŋaniñ kisulliqaa ataatatkut nanmausuuniqsut Avuunam tamanna Avuunamik pisuuniġaat manna Aŋuuramik atchiŋagaat Saġvailaq. Saġvaiḷaq tamanna atiqaqtuq. Aŋuunamik tanŋich atchiqsimagaalli. Saġvaiḷaq River. (Everyone, my grandfather-and-them and others before him, would backpack and let their dogs pack from the mouth of of Sanniŋaruq to Saġvaiḷaq. It has the name of Awuna, the white people have named this river that, but it has always been the Saġvaiḷaq River.)

Bill: Okay, lets go back down the river now. Where did people leave their boats when they were going to hunt caribou? Walter: Right here. Bill: A-16. Then how would they go? Walter: I don't know, summertime (unintel.)... Bill: The name for this again is? A-17? Wendy: Tuq... Walter: Tuqsrugruaq. Bill: Does that have a meaning in Iñupiaq? What does it mean? Greta: Tuqsrugruaq, that's what you're talking about the house. Wendy: That's the sod house. Bill: How about A-16, this one here. Walter: Sanniŋaruq. Bill: Does that have a special meaning in Iñupiaq? Greta: Sanniŋaruq. Maybe the river was opposite way. When the river was... Walter: Sanniŋaruq, off across the river. Bill: How about the next one down, A-15? Walter: Saaŋiaq. Bill: What does that mean in Iñupiaq? Greta: That's a name of a person. Because there's a family moving by boat I think, and somebody, was playing with a gun or something and shoot his mother inside the tent, and that's the name of the person, and it's got a grave, I think. It's got a grave. She's got a grave up there. Maybe that's why they named it. Wendy: Was the person's name the person who was shot, or the person who did the shooting? Greta: Somebody shooting. Bill: But...this is named after the mother, or after the son? Greta: Yes, somebody's name, right now maybe some of the kids got a name Saaŋiaq. Saaŋiaq is person who died. Bill: And A-14. Walter: Aġviġuaaq. Looks like aġviq (whale) right here, that hill. Wendy: Peqsaġniq? Walter: Piqsaġniq. Wendy: A-13. Bill: What does that mean? Walter: I don't know, just Iñupiaq name, uvvakii Iñupiatun una saquŋaruaq, piġinŋaruatun iłłuni inna piġinniġikpaiłłuni una kuuk tainna piqsaġniġmik atiqaqsiññaqtuq. Piġinnaġikpaiłłuni. Taamna tainna atiqaqsiññaqtuq. Piqsaġniq. (In Iñupiaq, this river is crooked, since it is like it's bent, because it has so many bends, this river, it has the name of Piqsaġniq. because there are so many bends on it. It is just named Piqsaġniq.) Bill: How about this one? Walter: Itqiuraq. Greta: Yes, in the wintertime we were camping right there. Walter: There's coal right there. Greta: He's trapping, hunting, wolves, wolverines... Bill: That name though, does that name have a special meaning? Greta: No. Bill: How about A-ll. Greta: Pisiksaġiaġvik. Bill: Means time to shoot the caribou. This A-10. Greta: Aŋutiġruaq. I should say that's the name of a person, Aŋutiġruaq. Maybe they just name it after that man's house because he usually go up there hunting, trapping. They just name after him. Walter: Maybe coal right there too. Wendy: We didn't get names for ones above that.

Bill: A-9? What do you call this one here, A-9? Walter: Imnaiġuaġruk. Bill: (Unintel.) Wendy: Is there a meaning for that? Greta: No. Maybe that place was good for fishing, net, in the wintertime. Kind of straight...maybe. Deep river in there. Everybody fishing underwater, under ice in wintertime. Good place to stay in the wintertime. Bill: What do we call this one here? A-8? Greta: Nuisuġnaaq. Wendy: Does that have a meaning? Greta: I don't know, maybe higher place to look around, see what's there. Nuisuġnaat (root word-nui, to appear.) Bill: How about that A-7 there. Greta: Qagluuraq. Maybe that's somebody's name there, because Wainwright man's Eskimo name was Qagluuraq. Try to name the places where the people was, or many years to stay in that place. They always name after them. Qagluuraq, that's a person's name, Qagluuraq. Bill: How about this one here ? A-6? Greta: Igalaaq. Igalaaq suna? (What is Igalaaq?) Walter: Iglum igalaaŋa. (A house's window.) Greta: You know those sod houses got a window? Bill: Skylight? Greta: Yes. And these windows are igalaurat (glass windows). Because long time people never have many windows in the house. Just only one. Igalaaq. That's a singular name, for one. Igalaaq. One. And igalauraq was a plural for the many. Wendy: Could be that the first windows had lots of little panes when they first came. Greta: Laughs. You can understand, or... Bill: Yes, I 'm just wondering why they, though, they named it that place? Greta: I don't know. May it looks light. When you go through the boat, the name, you better understand what that mean, or..what was in there. (Laughs.) Wendy: And this is.. Greta: Siŋillak. Maybe that was interesting place, you should be sure to visit.

Bill: You know looking at this map, you could almost go from this creek here over into these lakes. At A-11. Walter: Real close right here. Bill: Real close. Greta: Because you know, long time men never use any rifle or anything, they just got bows and arrows. In the summertime they're hunting with a spear or big knife or anything. In the wintertime they're digging some snow. (Higher?) and the caribous was walking and fall down to that hole down there. That's the way the people always hunting. Not much rifles or shotguns or anything. Hunting. Wendy: Did people use snares very much? Greta: Yes, I usually hunting with snares to ptarmigan. That's the only one I know, the people who's snaring the birds. Ptarmigans. And my father usually telling us about his grandfather was hunting with that, squirrels with rocks or anything. Bill: This place. Greta: Qikiqtaqturuq. Bill: Why do they call it that way, do you know? Wendy: Does it have anything to do with an island? Greta: It's just a name. I don't know, it's not really got an island up there, just a creek going to that... But our old house up there. I like to fishing up there in that creek. Lots of graylings.. Bill: How about A-3? Wendy: Kaŋigaqsraq. Greta: Kaŋiġaqsraq. That's a..long time people usually stay up there, maybe it's good for fishing in wintertime too. Deep water in the wintertime. Underwater, they always fish. Bill: A-2. Greta: Itqiliq. That's our house up there. It's not really house, that's a tent, wall with plywoods. Bill: And you said there was old houses there before, huh? Greta: Ii. (yes.) Right there, old houses up there, we know those. Wendy: And Aki? Greta: Aki? Walter: (unintel) Greta: Ii, piñialgitkaat. Sunauna. (Yes, they are going to do it again. What is this.) Walter: Uvvakii kuuk una tainnainnami Akimik pisuugaat, siññaġuugaat, kuuk tainnaisiññaġman tamanaunaġruiññaq tainna, inna piqaqhuni kuuŋ marra saquŋaruaqaqsiññaqhuni tainna tavra taaptumiŋa pimik pisuuguŋnagaat. (Perhaps they call it Aki because, simply because it just has a little bend on there.) Greta: Aaqanuq. (Perhaps.) You notice he say Isuqtuq? Isuqtuq right there, there's Aki, here's a open water flowing from that river up there. Maybe it's not..just like fishes stuck that side. They just go through that river, they go up there..atchu, I don't know. Walter: (Unintel. ) Wendy: Hooked together? Walter: Just like hook. Bill: Just like hook there. Good. Wendy: Boy that's a big help, got some..really, lot of information there. Bill, shall we call it a day? Bill: I think so, good. One more name here? Walter: Puiguqsimagikput. I forgot name there, Patiktitaq Creek uvva. Wendy: A-18, Bill. Walter: Taamna qaaŋiqsimagikput, qaaŋiqsaqput utiqługuuvva pigikput. Taamnauvva. (We passed that one, we have returned to it.) Wendy: And is that a stream or a place? Greta: That's just a name of the river. Walter: Lot of fishing.. Greta: I forgot those fish..big mouth, tittaaliq (ling-cod.) Last fall we just go up there and fishing tittaaliq with hook. Lots of tittaaliq up there. Bill: Does that name mean something in Iñupiat? Greta: No. Walter: Patiktit, uvvakii suna Patiktitamik atiqaqsimagaat sunaimña tavrani. (claps, Greta laughs.) Wendy: It claps? Greta: I don't know why they named it that. Walter: Kasuutipkaqamik sut. (Whenever something meets each other side to side, whatever.) Greta: Clap was patik, maybe when they clap their hands and they're stuck again. That's what that Patiktitaq.