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Ben Nungasak, Interview 1, Part 2
Ben Nungasak

This is the continuation of an interview with Ben Nungasak (Nuŋŋasauraq) on March 15, 1982 with Bill Schneider and Wendy Arundale at his home in Barrow, Alaska (now known as Utqiaġvik) for the Chipp-Ikpikpuk and Meade Rivers Oral History Project. Alice Solomon was the Iñupiaq language translator during the interview. In this second part of a two part interview, Ben continues to talk about traditional hunting and fishing locations and place names along the rivers. He also talks about the coal mine at Tuqsruk and working as a reindeer herder. (IHLC Tape #00053)

Ben Nungasak spoke in Iñupiaq during the interview. The transcript contains the spoken Iñupiaq written out and its corresponding English translation, both provided by Kathy Itta (now Ahgeak).

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 87-101-17

Project: Chipp-Ikpikpuk and Meade Rivers Oral History Project
Date of Interview: Mar 15, 1982
Narrator(s): Ben Nungasak
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Wendy Arundale
Transcriber: Katherine Itta Ahgeak People Present: Alice Solomon
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
North Slope Borough, Iñupiat History, Language and Culture Commission
Alternate Transcripts
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The coal deposit at Tuqsruk and locations in that general area.

Other old camps and place names, including a location that had a qargi.

More hunting and fishing locations and place names as they all look at a map.

His involvement in reindeer herding.

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


Bill: Okay, we're talking about that coal site. Tuqsruk. Say it again. Ben: Tuqsruk. Bill: And you were describing what it looked like up there. Alice: Quliaqtuaqtan, samma quliaqtuatqiŋmiuŋ. (You were talking about it, continue on.) Ben: (Iñupiaq phrase missing.) Is the tape going now? Oh. Taamna aluaqpak uvva mark-iqpaallukkaa akkupak qivliqł̣uniḷu puqtuvluniḷu ittuaq. Aluaqpak taamna nakuuŋamaruaq tutqiuġvigigaptigu Annaqatkuk utaqqikaptigik. Iḷitchuġivaalluktaġali nakuutilaaŋanik taamna aluaqpak. (The large amount of coal, they are finally marking it right now, it was shiny and deep. That coal, when we stayed there waiting for Annaqaq, we found it to ġe good coal. I had just found out how good that coal was.) Alice: He said, the one he's talking about to you,... he said that was the time when they were waiting for Jack Annaqaq when they were going up the river. And he found out it was deep coal, more than five feet, I guess. And real shiny and burns really well. That's when they found that coal, when they were waiting for these other hunters to come. Ben: Uvva iḷitchuġisuŋŋmatku taamna quliaqtuallakkiga. (Because they have asked about it, I have told briefly about it.) Alice: He said, I think this is the first time somebody ever told about that coal there. Ben: Iñuich taipkua atuġuusuŋnaġaluaġmigaat naluvlugu aglaalli uvagut atuqaptigu tavrani nakuuŋaruq. Iñuich atuqpagmarruŋ taamna aluaq nalugaluaġiġa, aglaalli uvagut atuqaptigu nakuuŋaruq. (Those people back then probably used it too, but I don't know that for sure myself, but when we used it at that time it was good.) Alice: He said he doesn't know of any other people or older people using that coal, but when they were there, they used it themselves, and it was good coal. He's not sure if a lot of other people have used it, but maybe he thinks he just did not know about it himself. Bill: Were there signs that other people had camped there? Alice: Inna tavranigguuq inauŋamavat iñuich? Ben: Inauŋaitchuŋnaqtut. Alice: He doesn't think so. Ben: Aglaan taamna aluaq taisuugaat Tuqsrugmik. (They probably did not stay there but people called that coal Tuqsruk.) Alice: He thinks nobody ever stayed there, didn't stay there but they called where that coal was, they called Tuqsruk. Tuqsruk, only by name. They just call it Tuqsruk. Bill: Savailak (mispronounced) River? Alice: Tamaani Savailak, kuuŋmi? Sunaimña? (What was it?) Wendy: Saġvaiḷaq. Alice: Tamattumani kuuŋmi? Sumi kuuŋmi taamna itpa? (On that river? What part of the river is it?) Ben: Mattuma Meade River pikanitchiurachiurałhiñaŋani, qaniqiuraŋani aglaan. Iigumi mattumani, Iigumiisiññaqtuq. Alice: Asivaqhuni Meade River-miñ, asivaqhuni? Ben: Ii, qanittuq aglaan, samma one mile-luunnii sippaqauraġukkumi. Alice: It's on Meade River but going sideways or about one mile. Not in the river itself, just little ways from the river. Wendy: Parallel to it? Alice: Yeah. I think that's what he means. Ben: It was in that hill, they call it Iigut. Iigut. Alice: Kuuġuurat makua Iigunik pisuuvatigit, kuuŋmiñ avuŋa innauraŋaruat? (Do they call those little streams that lead off the river?) Ben: No. Qimiġaq aglaan, qutchiguraqtuaq puqtuuraqtuaq. Mattumaŋŋa qutchiksuq samma. Alice: Kuuguŋitchuq? Ben: Qimiġałhiñaq. (Iñupiaq material incomplete.) Alice: He said they call them "Iigut" when the bank of the river is higher than the lower part of it. They call them Iigut, and that's where that coal was. Wendy: The coal at Tuqsruk? Alice: Tuqsruk. Yes. Ben: Yeah. Bill: But how about the location of that river? Savailuk?(mispronounced) Wendy: Saġvaiḷaq. Alice: Taamnauvva apiqsruusigaat kuuk sunasamna. (They are asking about a river, what is it...) Saġvaiḷaq. I don't know. What you want. Ben: I wish he... that Colville. I might show you that creek. Wendy: Saġvaiḷaq. Alice: Saġvaiḷaq. Ben: Yeah. Up there somewhere. Alice: We pronounce them so different. Saġvaiḷaq pivauŋ uuma? (Could he be referring to Saġvaiḷaq?) Ben: Ii. (Yes.) Alice: You mean that creek, when I said there was not waves? Wendy: Uh-huh. Alice: Saġvaiḷaq pimagaa. (He was referring to Saġvaiḷaq.) Ben: Tuqsruŋmi tavraŋŋa pauŋanmukhuni samma, innamuŋaruaq. Alice: He said, it originates from Tuqsruq, and goes this way. The river. Saġvaiḷaq. Ben: It goes up to the.. Meade River-muŋaruq samma. Bill: Okay. How about the place Nappaaqtallak? Ben: (Iñupiaq missing here.) Alice: He said Saġvaiḷaq flows to the Colville River, Meade River? Bill: Saġvaiḷaq flows into the Meade River? Alice: Saġvaiḷagguuq sumun maqisuuva? Ben: Colville. Bill: Colville. Alice: Colville. Wendy: Okay. So it flows into the Colville. Ben: Yeah. Bill: How about that place Nappaaqtallak? Do you have a better pronounciation? Wendy: I could try. Nappaaqtallak. Ben: Napaaqtallak. (Alice and Wendy repeat name) Qanuġipkuak aniŋaruak iġġiurak, tikiuratun ittuak. (Now how were they, they are little mountains which come out, they are like little fingers.) Alice: Qimiġaaŋiḷaaq? (Not hills?) Ben: Qimiġaaŋioaak. (Not hills.) Alice: He said... Ben: Just like piŋuatchiaq, aŋivlutik aglaan. (Just like little pingos, but big.) Alice: Ilimikkullaa. (Each by themselves.) Ben: Ilimikkullaa. About three-four miles inna akuttitugiruk samma. (Each by themselves. There is an area of about 3 or 4 miles in between them.) Alice: Those Napaaqtallak we're talking about are almost like little mountains, not hills, he says, and they're separated from each other. Bill: Can you show me on the map where they are? Alice: Sumiitpalliqsilaaŋich, sumiitilaaŋit iḷisimayumiñaqpiuŋ? Napaaqtullak? Ben: Napaaqtallak. Tavraŋŋa aluamiñ aullaqtuni, tamaani samma apqusaaġnaġaluaqtuk tikkuaġumiñaitkikka nalunaiŋaitpatik. Alice: He said when you start from coal mine, from... Ben: Coal mine, Tuqsruk. Alice: Tuqsruk, you go this way, but he says he can't pin point them. He's not too sure on the map. Wendy: That's okay. It's a big help just to know about them. Ben: I don't know how many miles from that, I don't remember. Bill: How about Tulugaq? Ben: Yes. It's close from the Colville. It's about three miles from the Colville. We call it Tulugaq. Bill: How about Lt. Howard's place. What's that called? Wendy: Kigaalik? Bill: You ever hear of Kigaalik? Alice: Lt. who? Wendy: Or maybe pronounced Kigalik? We don't know how it's pronounced properly. Bill: Kigaalik? Or Kigaluk? Ben: Kigaluk? Wendy: Kigaalik. Ben: Tigaakik. Wendy: (Tries two other pronounciations.) Alice: Who made the name? Wendy: An explorer long time ago in the 1880's, named Howard. Alice: Ikpikpaŋmiuvva piruamik piut, iñiliġaatguuq Eighteen hundred-mi iñuum imma nalaunŋaraŋa uqausiġigaat. (They are talking about a man who went by the Ikpikpak River in the 1800's.) Wendy: Between the Ikpikpak and the Colville. Perhaps. Alice: How did you say it? Wendy: I think it's Kigaalik.

Bill: I just have one more. This place here, A-5, which Walter calls Siŋiḷḷak, Siŋiḷḷak. This place here...(Bill pronounces it "Siŋaluk".) Alice: Siŋiḷḷak, sunkiaq uvva pivauŋ. (Siŋiḷḷak, I don't know what he is referring to.) (Alice pronounces it "Siŋaluk".) Ben: Itqiuraq, huh? Wendy: Itqiuraq? Bill: Yes. Yes. Ben: Who call that, who call this one? Walter? Alice: But it was there already on the map, right? Bill: Uh-huh. Alice: Tavranigguuq map-miitaniŋaruaq taamna, agliusimaruakiuvva tavrani. (It was already on the map, it had already been written down.) Siŋiḷḷak. Ben: Is that.. Nunatchiaq uvva taamna, iñuich taipkua narvaqtuġviat. It's that lake, huh? Bill: Yeah. Ben: Narvaqtuġviat taipkua. (Where those of long ago used to corral caribou into a lake.) Alice: Narvaqtuġviat? (Where they corralled into a lake.) Ben: Ii, Narvaqtuġviat. (Section missing.) Alice: Narvaqtuġviat. (Section missing.) Ben: Ii. Ini uvva taaptumiŋa atchiŋamagaat. (Yes, I see that they had named a place that.) Alice: He said that used to be a camp. Long ago. Ben: People. Alice: But he didn't know about that name. Siŋiḷḷak. Ben: Siŋiḷḷak. Alice: Siŋiḷḷak? Ben: Siŋiḷḷak. Alice: Siŋiḷḷak. Yeah, he remembers the name. Wendy: Ah, good. (Ben, Alice, and Wendy repeat name.) Ben: Yeah, that's the one. Samma Kuugauraqaqtuq maaŋŋa, aasii Isuqtumun maqivluni. Alice: He said there's a small river that flows from there to Isuqtuq. Bill: Ah. Alice: Small, small... Ben: A kind of creek. Alice: Creek. Ben: Isuqtuq. Bill: Uh-huh. Ben: Yeah. Other people used to hunting caribou right there. That's big camp right there I know. Bill and Alice: Oh. Several voices: Siŋiḷḷak. Bill: What have you heard about that place? Ben: My uncle used to talking about it, and Walter, his father. You know Walter? He used to talk about that thing at the lake. Bill: What did he say about it? Ben: Long ago used to hunt for the caribou. Long ago. Wendy: In Walter's father's time or maybe before? Alice: Aqpiksragguuq iñuumman naakka sivuaniḷu Aqpiksratkut Ikusitkut iñuummata, sivuanni tamatkua? Ben: Before, before. Ii. Alice: Before. Ii. Ben: Long ago. I know that sod house in there, lots of big cracks in the wall. Taaptumani ikpiŋaqpaktut iglut. (The old sod houses are very sunken there.) Alice: Igluaḷuich? (Old houses?) Ben: Igluaḷuich. Alice: There's lot of old sod houses in that place, Siŋiḷḷak. Bill: Have you been there? Ben: Yeah. In that area, that Siŋiḷḷak. Wendy: Uh-huh. Bill: Have you seen that? Ben: I used to, trapping. Alice: He has seen that old sod house there. Ben: I never...I never... aŋuniaġmata nalugitka tavrani aglaan... Alice: He doesn't know himself when they hunt there, but he said there's an old camp there where they used to hunt, long before he came. Bill: Before Walter's father? Ben: I hear him talking about that, my uncle and Walter's father talking about that. Qalgiqaġuuvlutik. (They had a qargi there.) Alice: Tamatkua aŋaayuqaaŋich, suŋich, ataataaluŋich? He's not sure whether Aqpik or his uncle's parents were, I mean if they were the parents that lived there but that was way back. They used to have big... they call them.. Bill: What's the Eskimo word for what you're about to tell us. Alice: Qalgi. You know.. big gathering place. Iñuich amii kasimaviŋich? (They were the meeting places for the people, right?) Ben: Ii. (Yes.) Like a gym. (Laughter.) Bill: Are there other places where there was qargi. Ben: I don't know about that. I know that area, my uncle was talking about that. Bill: Are there qargi in any of these other places? (Pause) Don't know. Ben: No. I don't know. Me, I know that, he was talking about that qargi. Bill: Yeah. Ben: In that area. Alice: It's good hunting place. (Unclear.) Siŋiḷḷak. Una suna. Pisiksiġiaġvik. Pisiksiġiaġvik? Itqiuraq una? (What is this, Pisiksaġiaġvik. Is this Itqiuraq?) Ben: Itquiraq, ii. Kanaŋŋaqtuni Aŋutiġruamiñ uvaŋŋa tatqiŋniqsaaqhuni (Unintelligible) kuuġuuruam paaŋani avaŋŋamiñ. Pisiksaġiaġvik samma mauna kuuġuuraq. Alice: He said Pisiksaġiaġvik, little creek, is right there. Ben: Marra manna. That little creek. We call it Pisiksaġiaġvik. Bill: Okay. We'll call that one BN-3. What does that mean? Ben: That's Itqiuraq. Coal mine there. Bill: Yes. That's right. Okay, you got BN-3 here which is... Wendy: Uh-huh. Ben: Change their name. Bill: Mixed up, huh? Ben: Name on creek here. Bill: What does that mean? Ben: Itqiuraq. I don't know. Bill: Okay. What does Pisiksaġiaġvik mean? Ben: That creek. Pisiksaġiaġvik. Bill: Does that have a meaning? Alice: Sumigguuq sivuniqaqpa, taamna? Bill: Iñuitkiuvva aŋuniaqtuat sumik taimma Pisiksaġiaŋamavat, naaggaqaa Pisiksipiaqtuqtuat taipkua. (Probably hunters, they were going to shoot whatever they were hunting, or those people back then that used bows and arrows.) I don't know which. Bow and arrow, or rifle, or something. Alice: By that word, it says there one gets to shoot bow and arrow or regular gun, or, something. Bill: I wonder why... Ben: That's the way it is, that name, Pisiksaġiaġvik. Bill: When did they call it that way. Alice: (Iñupiaq phrase missing). (Chuckles.) Bill: Are there more places that you want to mark on the Isuqtuq? Ben: Isuqtuq? Wendy: Are there any other places where there might be old sod houses that we don't have marks on there or other things that you think are important? Alice: Tavraniuvva titiaksranik iḷisimavsaaġuvich igluġrualigaanik naakka igluġruagitkaluaqtuanik titiŋaitchuanik titiqsivsaaġumiñaġnigaluaġaatin. ġen: Isuqtuġiat. This one there? ġill: Yeah. Ben: I used to hunt over here.

Bill: This one what did you call that one there? Ben: Qikiqtaqturuq. Qikiqtaqturuq. (Wendy repeats names.) Uh-huh. Bill: Show me and I'll mark it here. Ben: Wait. It's that creek, yeah right there. Bill: Right here? Ben: Yeah. Bill: Okay. Ben: Joe Felder used to land it over here in this lake, when he had a pontoon airplane. Used to land it there. Bill: Oh, pontoon. Ben: That lake. Yeah. Pontoon. I used to hunt there in that creek. You know, that? Bill: Let me call that BN-4, and would you repeat the name again, in Iñupiat? Ben: Qikiqtaqturuq. Tavrani iqaluŋniaġuurugut, Qikiqtaqturuŋmi. (We used to go fishing there at Qikiqtaqturuq.) Bill: Does that have a meaning? Alice: Sumigguuq sivuniqaqpa, atiŋa? Ben: Let's see here. By the lake over here, they got an island over here, they got an island, over here, just little ways. That lake, they got island, in the middle. Bill: Okay. Any other place? Ben: That long one, that big Qagluqpak uvani. (here). Bailey Aishanna used to... Mark this one. Bailey Aishanna used to hunt, fish right there. Bill: This lake here? Ben: No. It's over here. Walter...Somebody marked it. Bill: Oh. He calls that Kaŋiġaksraq. Ben: Yes. Kaŋiġaksraq. Yes. Wendy: Which one is that? Bill: A-3 Ben: That's good place right there too. Point Barrow people long ago, when they need food, I heard, used to go up there, go fishing up there at that Kaŋiġaqsraq. Point Barrow people long ago before I was born. That's what I heard. Alice: Nuvuŋmiut? (People from the Point?) Ben: Ii. Utqiaġviŋmiut makua. (The Barrow people here.) Alice: You mean Barrow. Bill: That's this place here, huh? Ben: Yeah. Kaŋiġaqsraq. Alice: We call Pt. Barrow people Nuvuŋmiut. And Barrow people Utqiaġviŋmiut. Wendy: Uh-huh. Bill: How about some of those places in the upper part here? (Pause). Ben: Siŋiḷḷak (Pause) This is over here. At that time, 1927. They got a sod house over here. Bill: What do you call that place there? Ben: Anauliġiaq. (Wendy and Ben repeat name.) Bill: We'll call that BN-5. On the lake there? Ben: Yeah. That's the first lake from Isuqtuq, that creek, it's catch up to that first lake there. Bill: Okay, good. Ben: Lots of fish right there, I know. Bill: Say the name of that again? BN-5? Ben: Anauliġiaq. Wendy: Didn't we talk about that earlier? Yeah, I think so. Ben: Is that... Walter used to call it that too? Bill: I don't think we talked about it with him. Ben: Maybe he don't know about that, but me, I know it. Wendy: Uh-huh. I don't think we talked about that one with Walter. Ben: My uncle had a sod house over there. Lots of fish right there. (Pause) But lots of money to fly up. (Laughter.) Back and forth, two trips, $500. Wendy: Wow. Ben: Right now. Bill: Yeah. Wendy: Expensive. Ben: That Meade River or Isuqtuq? Bill: Isuqtuq. Ben: Let's see. Isigaurraaġvik. Bill: What was that again? Ben: Isigaurraaġvik. Over here. We might have mark two over there. Bill: Yes. Walter marked that. That's A-23. (Wendy and Alice repeat name.) Ben: I never go another this way. That's the last I know, Isigaurraaġvik. And then that Siŋiŋŋak got a creek over here, and that lake, how come they didn't put it up? They got creek, they got Isuqtuq. Bill: Creek goes through here? Ben: Maybe this one, I don't know. Bill: Okay. Ben: I know that Siŋiŋŋak that put that name over there. I know that lake, old people used to hunt in there. That lake. Wendy: Uh-huh. Bill: Uh-huh. Do you have any questions?

Wendy: I just wanted to ask Ben if he was ever involved in any reindeer herding at all. Were you ever involved in any reindeer herding? Ben: (Unclear) Barrow. I don't know. When? (Iñupiaq discussion between Ben and Alice omitted here.) Ben: Qunŋiŋaaguŋaruŋa. Ben: Qunŋiŋaaguŋaruŋa. Alice: He has been reindeer herder. Bill: When was that? Alice: Kisumi ukiumi? Ben: Nukatpiaġruukama. Fourteen years-ŋuqama, qanuq. Samma tamaani fourteen, fifteen years old. Wendy: When you were herding, which herd did you work on? Ben: Compani-ġuġmata. (When they became a company.) Alice: Kitkunnun. (To who?) Ben: Maani. Utqiaġviŋñi. (Here, in Barrow.) Alice: Company. I don't know what company. Wendy: Do you remember which number? Herd Number? Herd Number? Barrow Herd? Brower Herd? Ben: No. Wendy: Not Brower herd. Ben: Barrow. Wendy: Barrow okay. And when you were herding, what did you do, what kinds of things did the herders do? Ben: Company-ġuġmata, (Unintelligible.) Alice: They all had numbers. Number one, number two... aasii nallianni piruatiin? Ben: Piŋaitchuŋa. Company-ġuġmata piñiurarraqsiŋaruŋa. Alice: He just started when they became a company. Ben: I was not in that.... Alice: My brother was herding... Ben: They used to have a number long time. Brower's, maybe number four, Brower's. Wendy: How long were you a herder? How many years? Ben: I don't remember. I should call it five years. Wendy: And you started when you were 14 or 15? Ben: Uh-huh. Wendy: How many other people worked with you? Ben: Oh, sometimes they quit...aġiusuurullu piŋguiŋikamiglu.. Alice: Qavsiusuuvarguuq iñuich? (How many were there?) Ben: Qunŋiŋaagukaptali Uvyuatkuŋni sisamauŋarugut uvagut nukatpiat, Uvyuatkut piqatigivlugich. Alice: When he was herding there were only four of them, younger boys with husband and wife called Uvyuaq and Aluniq. Bill: Was this after you were trapping with your uncle or before. Or same time? Ben: After trapping with my uncle. Bill: Okay. Well, that's really helpful. You filled in this map.