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Joshua Acurunaq Phillip, Interview 2
Joshua Phillip

Joshua Acurunaq Makista Phillip was interviewed on July 9, 1988 by Robert Drozda and translator Vernon Chimegalrea at Joshua's home in Tuluksak, Alaska. In this excerpt of the interview, Joshua speaks in Yup'ik to explain the early history and village migrations of Yup'ik families from Nunapiarmiut and Qikertarmiut (the old island site altered by the changing Kuskokwim River) in the early 1900s who over time came to settle in what was called Akiacuar (Akiachak). This recording is part of a series of richly detailed interviews Joshua did with researchers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, ANCSA 14(h)(1) Program in the 1980s, which he formally released for use by the Yupiit School District. The original full recording (Tape #88CAL057) is available at the BIA ANCSA Office in Anchorage, Alaska. For more information about the BIA ANCSA oral history collection, contact Ken Pratt, ANCSA Program Manager at or (907) 271-3695.

View a written English translation by Marie Meade of this excerpt of the recording.

View a short video clip of Joshua Phillip speaking in Yup'ik about the early history of Akiachak produced by Frank Chingliak of the Yupiit School District, along with a written English summary of the video.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History BIA ANCSA 88CAL057

Project: Akiachak - Then and Now
Date of Interview: Jul 9, 1988
Narrator(s): Joshua Acurunaq Phillip
Interviewer(s): Robert Drozda
Transcriber: Marie Arnaq Meade
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
U.S. Department of Education, Alaska Native Education, Yupiit School District
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

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


1) The large former village of Nunapiarmiut with two qasgiq across from Akiachak; the Uruniq River and the Nunipiar River; guarding Nunapiarmiut by day and night; and village winter entertainment on the frozen Kuskokwim River.

2) The story of migration from Nunapiarmiut due to famine, the contemporary site of Nunapiar, setting blackfish traps, the time of starvation in the 1800s, migration to the coastal Canineq area and the Yukon River, contemporary descendants of Nunapiarmiut, and the mountains as refuge when food is scarce.

3) By 1900, the population of Nunapiarmiut was much reduced and the village moved downriver, moving again as the Kuskokwim River changed course to create an island, and Nunapiarmiut changed its name to Qikertarmiut. Eventually the people resettled back across the river, calling the place Akiacuar and abandoning the old village then called Qikertalleq.

4) The growth of Akiachak and plans for a qasgiq; settlement of Akiak and the story of its name; names for the qasgiq in each village, and the story of Akiachak's qasgiq name, Upussaluk.

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


Written English translation of this excerpt by Marie Meade.

Section 1: old village -- site\ Nunapiaq\ Nunapiarmiut\ Kusquqvak\ Uruniq River-- depth\ Uruniq River -- width\ graves -- old\ dwellings -- old\ village -- size\ village -- qasgiq\ village -- number\ village -- protection\ protection -- men\ village -- entertainment\ Kuskokwim River -- winter\ river -- ice\ ice -- depth|

Section 2: migration -- village\ Nunapiar -- contemporary\ Nunapiarmiut -- migration\ Nunapiar -- marsh\ blackfish -- traps\ blackfish -- marsh\ subsistence -- season\ fishing -- quality\ food -- lack of\ 1800s\ salmon -- number\ blackfish -- decreased \ pike -- decreased\ water -- lack of\ hunger -- village\ Canineq -- migration to\ Canineq -- coast\ Canineq -- clams\ Canineq -- stickleback\ mountains -- migration to\ mountains -- lakes\ lakes -- depth\ Nunapiarmiut -- descendents\ descent -- claims\ descendents -- contemporary\ descendents -- coastal\ migration -- to Yukon River\ migration -- tracing\ death -- presumption\ lineage -- tracing|

Section 3: Click here to view photo of Qikertarmiut, 1884. Nunapiarmiut -- 1900\ river -- course\ river -- change\ Nunapiarmiut -- population\ population -- reduction\ starvation\ village -- relocation\ land -- change\ river -- flow\ village -- name\ Qikertarmiut -- island\ Qikertarmiut -- growth\ river -- crossing\ berry picking -- location\ river -- depth\ mainland -- crossing to\ Akiacuar -- settlement\ Qikertarmiut -- abandonment\Qikertarmiut -- duration\ Qikertarmiut -- graves\ Qikertalleq\ settlement -- renaming\ population -- migration|

Section 4: population--growth\ qasgiq -- planning\ village -- relocation\ Akiak -- site\ Akiaq -- name\ Akiaq -- story\ shaman -- role\ coffin -- child\ child -- dead\ grave -- site\ Akiachak\ Akiarmiut\ qasgiq -- name\ Qasgikaq -- Akiak\ qasgiq -- Akiacuar\ Qikertalleq--family\ Yukon River -- place of origin\ son-in-law\ qasgiq -- construction\ qasgiq -- name\ qasgiq -- Upussaluk\ qasgiq -- gathering place\ qasgiq -- Tuulessaaq\ Tuluksak\ qasgiq -- Tallurnavak\ qasgiq -- Mamterilleq\ Bethel\ qasgiq -- Urucaraq\ qasgiq -- Napaskiaq\ Napaskiak\ qasgiq -- Uivngavak\ qasgiq -- dancing\ qasgiq -- drumming\ qasgiq -- Kuiggluk\ Kwethluk\ qasgiq -- Naparyarraq\ Napakiak\ Nunapiarmiut -- size\ population -- dispersal|