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Joshua "Acurunaq" Phillip
Joshua Acurunaq Makista Phillip was a Yup'ik elder born on January 1, 1912 to Anna (Jackson) Phillip, from Kwethluk, and Phillip Anglluralria in Akiachak, Alaska. His father served as a lay pastor at Qinaq, an abandoned village near what is now Tuntutuliak, and Joshua's grandfather, Wassilie Anguyagpaq, was the first lay pastor with the Moravian Church in Akiachak. Joshua's first wife was Carrie Ayak'aq Lomack, with whom he had four children: Jacob Amell'aq Phillip (deceased), Elnathan Phillip (deceased), Louie Ilegvak Phillip (deceased) and Eddie Kun'aq Phillip. Joshua's second wife was Emma (Paul) Phillip, with whom he had eight children, two of whom were deceased as of 2006: Paul & twin sister (deceased), Anna Davidson, Sarah Owens, Joseph Phillip (deceased), Willie Phillip, David Phillip and Sophie Paul. His third wife is Agnes (Charles) Phillip of Akiachak. Joshua was a fur trapper, a carpenter for Bureau of Indian Affairs schools, and helped maintain schools in the Kuskokwim River region. He served in the Alaska Territorial Guard during World War II, in 1960 became a lay pastor for the Moravian Church in Akiak and Tuluksak, and was a commercial fisherman on the Kuskokwim River. In his younger years, Joshua was a reindeer herder and had 14 reindeer company shares that he inherited from his father. He herded reindeer year-round at a corral located on the Kuik (Gweek) River and reached by a trail called Casgucaraq.
Joshua was a strong Yup'ik tradition bearer who was eager to pass his knowledge and experiences on to the younger generation, especially of places out on the land. In the 1980s, Joshua provided a series of richly detailed interviews to U.S. BIA ANCSA 14(h)(1) researchers formally released for use by the Yupiit School District. Excerpts of his 1988 interview is included in this project where he narrates historical movement of the Yup'ik families who over time came to settle in what was called Akiacuaq (Akiachak). He recounts their story of relocation in the early 1900s from Qikertarmiut, the old island site altered by the changing Kuskokwim River. Joshua Phillip passed away in 2008 at age 96.
Biography written by Sophie Kasayulie and Frank Chingliak of the Yupiit School District.