John Tallekpalek was a Yup'ik elder who was born at Pilot Station, Alaska on the Lower Yukon River in 1919. When he was four years old, his family moved to Levelock because his father had been told there were good opportunities for employment in the canneries and the fishing industry that mixed well with the seasonal subsistence hunting, trapping and fishing. John married his wife, Mary, and they lived on the Branch River and other places around the region moving between locations as the seasons and available resources dictated. In 1954, John worked as a deckhand on a tugboat in Seattle and eventually became a tugboat captain running boats between Seattle and Alaska, a job from which he retired when he turned sixty-five years old. John Tallekpalek passed away in 2001 at the age of eighty-two.