Mary Nelson was a Yup'ik elder from Kokhanok, Alaska. She was born in Kokhanok in 1938 to Mike and Mary Newyaka, who were some of the earliest residents in the community. Mary grew up in the village and spend summers at fish camp along the beach below Kokhanok. She lived a subsistence lifestyle relying on fishing, hunting and trapping, learned to prepare food, sew, and take care of a household from her mother, and attended a few years of school in Newhalen. She spent her life continuing the seasonal round of subsistence activities and moving back and forth between different villages and seasonal camps.