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Ernest "Qigñaq" Kignak
Ernest Kignak (Qigñaq) was born inland from Barrow, Alaska in 1903 during a famine period and was adopted by a Nunamiut family. As a young boy becoming aware, he recalls that his adoptive family was in Barrow, but were always traveling inland. He notes that they came to Barrow because they had a hard time getting food, particularly seal oil. They didn't have enough other goods to trade for oil, so they had to stay in the Barrow area at times and hunt sea mammals. Ernest grew up traveling on the Ikpikpuk River and other inland rivers. He has made the trip from the Ikpikpuk River into the Colville River and describes the route on Tape 00049.
Ernest recalls learning about historic places from his family as they traveled, and he also learned about the area from his own observations. Before he got married, Ernest was a reindeer herder in the area between the Wainwright herd and the Alaqtaq area where Tom Brower had a herd. He refers to the herd he worked with as "Taaqpak's herd." He earned over 200 reindeer, but quit herding to take care of his wife. Ernest Kignak passed away in 1988.
(Biographical section from Quliaqtuat Iñupiat Nunañiññiñ - The Report of the Chipp-Ikpikpuk River and Upper Meade River Oral History Project. W. Arundale and W. Schneider, 1987.)