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Joseph Uyaquq Lomack
Joe and Nastasia Lomack

Joseph Lomack was interviewed on October 15, 2005 by Louann Rank, Mary Frederick, Sophie Kasayulie, Frank Chingliak and Marla Statscewich at Joseph's house in Akiachak, Alaska. Joe's wife, Nastasia, was also present during the interview. In this interview, Joe speaks in Yup'ik about growing up in Akiachak, his memories of going to school and church, and learning traditional skills and stories from elders. He tells the story of the early history of Akiachak, including one about a small bell that was used for church services in a qasgiq when it was still being used in the village. Joe also talks about the subsistence lifestyle of fishing and trapping, how he learned traditional skills, the use of plants for traditonal medicine, and starvation times and the importance of sharing food. He also discusses the use of boats, airplanes, dog teams, and reindeer for transportation.

View a written English translation of this interview by Frank Chingliak and Anna Jacobson done in May 2006.

View a short video clip of Joseph Lomack speaking in Yup'ik about being a health aide in 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 2004-07-44

Project: Akiachak - Then and Now
Date of Interview: Oct 13, 2005
Narrator(s): Joseph Uyaquq Lomack
Interviewer(s): Louann Rank, Mary Frederick, Frank Chingliak, Sophie Kasayulie, Marla Statscewich
Transcriber: Frank Chingliak
Location of Interview:
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) His personal history and the early history of Akiachak; why the school teacher wore a tie; the 1933 closure of the Akiak hospital; taking an ill person into their home; and learning as a child in the qasgiq.

2) First sight of an airplane in Akiak; the school building and classroom routines when he was a boy; punishment for chewing gum; and the nurse named Lulu.

3) Church Slough, traditional dancing, learning how to handle and shoot a rifle, using river water to drink, the slowness of early Johnson outboard motors, and seal oil as a substitute for motor oil.

4) Learning about wild areas and where there were fish; remembering when snow would reach the height of houses; lessons in stamina and limited water use; food-sharing during famine; the story of cannibalism; and cleansing properties of certain plants.

5) Famine following incidents of disrespect for fish and waste of subsistence resources; diet during food shortages; blackfish trapping and preparation; burial of fish roe; and consumption of Kuskokwim River smelt by residents of the Yukon River.

6) A site called Mamteraq across from Bethel, the arrival of missionaries to the Kuskokwim River in the late 1800s; scriptural teachings to village of Qinaq, traditional lifestyle taught through story and song; and non-Natives learning Yup'ik culture.

7) Respect for sled dogs and their capabilities, kayak use, and materials used in traditional waterproof clothing.

8) Trapping ethics, learning to make and use a blackfish trap and a bow and arrow, use of stone arrowheads, taking food for granted, and the use of tobacco in various forms.

9) Hard-working people and strong dogs in the past, the saw mill in Akiak, how to build and care for wooden boats and skin boats, and the collection, preparation, and consumption of sphagnum moss (uruq).

10) Warnings of future danger given in the qasgiq, repercussions from theft of a trapped fur-bearing animal, traditional response to disregard for tribal authority, and parallels between Yup'ik and Biblical disciplinary guidelines.

11) When winters were much colder and there were neither radios in the village nor insulation and electricity in the school building.

12) Being a Community Health Aide, his methods used to diagnose problems, and the value of medicinal plant use.

13) Tree species used for traditional medicine, the diphtheria epidemic, and shopping in Bethel when a 55-gallon drum of gasoline cost twelve dollars.

14) Harnessing reindeer with sleighs for travel and hauling, and being a reindeer shareholder.

15) Growing up with Marie Forrest's children, sleeping over at the bunkhouse, a small sawmill in Akiachak, eating turkey for the first time, learning to speak English, a translator named Cuuqvak, and learning to ride a bicycle.

16) Marie Forrest's support to people of the village, the school teacher named Anna McDonald, and a story of the fatal gas poisoning of Jack Johnson (Curaqaquller) during the excavation of a well for the school.

17) The situation of Jack Johnson's widow, Elizabeth (Nugeqpaq), and community efforts to help her.

18) Humorous stories of three village men's early efforts to speak English--one ordering a cup of coffee, another injured by a nail, and the third asking where white people came from.

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

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


Written English translation of this interview by Frank Chingliak and Anna Jacobson

Section 1: birthplace\ name -- Uyaquq\ Akiachak -- settlement\ epidemic -- 1900\ school -- construction\ school -- date\ schoolteacher -- clothing\ necktie -- use\ necktie -- splint\ Akiak -- hospital\ hospital -- closing\ health care -- home\ qasgiq -- learning\ game -- checkers\ checkers -- learning\ roles -- learning\ cigyaq -- lack of\ elders -- teaching\ Garber\ transportation -- dog team\ Mountain Village -- hospital|

Section 2: airplane -- first\ airplane -- landing\ airplane -- name\ airplane -- sound\ students -- marching\ oil -- cod-liver\ stove -- Coleman\ temperature -- cold\ floor -- mopping\ parkas -- traditional\ rhymes --nursery\ rhymes -- recitation\ shaman -- moon\ student -- punishment\ chewing gum -- prohibited\ Taqiikaq\ Murusaq -- Henry, Moses\ Irneryuq -- Hawk, Herman\ Tuluksak\ teachers -- strict\ Irneryuq -- father\ Tanuuller\ nurse -- Lula\ Bethel|

Section 3: Church Slough\ Bethel\ dancing -- traditional\ dance -- as worship\ gift -- food\ gift -- rifle\ gun -- safety\ shooting -- learning\ shooting -- accuracy\ gun -- aiming\ water -- collecting\ water -- boiling\ gas -- can\ can -- five-gallon\ Blazo -- container\ motor -- outboard\ motor -- Johnson\ motor -- horse-power\ oil -- seal\ seal oil -- use\ seal oil -- aroma\ motor -- slow\ rowboat -- speed

Section 4: traits -- personal\ traits -- historical\ wilderness -- characteristics\ fish -- locations\ dogs -- care\ snow -- amount\ memory -- childhood\ house -- passage\ snow -- depth\ flooding -- spring\ water -- drinking\ water -- amounts\ Lomack, William\ spittle -- quality of\ thirst -- measure of\ water -- use\ stamina -- discipline for\ famine -- behavior\ food -- hiding\ food -- women\ women -- responsibility\ husband -- role\ Oscarville\ cannibalism -- story\ famine -- fear\ plants -- medicinal\ plants -- use\ wormwood -- qanganaruat\ organs -- digestive\ digestion -- cleansing|

Section 5: food -- fish\ fish -- abundance\ Akiachak -- surroundings\ Nunacuaq\ Nunapitchuk\ famine\ fish -- disrespect\ whitefish -- broad\ whitefish -- organs\ whitefish -- roe\ Ellam Kilgartii\ resources -- waste\ waste -- repercussions\ story -- fish bones\ mice -- eating\ blackfish -- trap\ blackfish -- preparation\ blackfish -- broth\ roe -- burial\ hunger -- prevention\ elder -- prediction\ Yukon River -- residents\ Inupiaq\ migration -- tribal\ Kuskokwim River -- season\ smelt -- migration\ Jimmie -- uncle\ deaths -- story\ death -- overeating|

Section 6: Bethel -- name\ Mamteraq -- site\ cache -- name\ missionaries -- arrival\ missionaries -- date\ Togiak\ Bristol Bay\ Quinhagak\ Kuskokwim River\ Qinaq -- qasgiq\ Ellam Yua\ Cingilek\ Ungalek\ tundra -- residents\ Jesus -- Umikucimek\ Bible -- preaching\ story -- missionary\ preacher -- young\ teachings -- traditional\ Bible -- comparison with\ Kass’at -- Caucasions\ Bible -- stories\ Mumterilleq -- Bethel\ missionary -- helpers\ helpers --shamans\ shamanic -- practices\ YUIRAYARAQ\ songs -- dancing\ storytelling -- traditional\ stories -- lifestyle\ Apanuugpaq\ nuqallpiaq -- hunter\ schools -- State\ school -- Bethel\ language -- learning\ culture -- practices\ change -- cultural|

Section 7: dogs -- sled\ dogs -- treatment of\ dogs -- senses\ dogs -- behavior\ dogs -- feeding\ kayak -- ownership\ kayaks -- coastal\ kayak -- sea\ mammal -- intestines\ intestines -- dried\ clothing -- water-resistant\ boots -- skin\ skin -- salmon\ boots -- waterproof\ boot -- maintenance|

Section 8: hunting -- season\ animals -- trapping\ trap -- protection\ pelt -- mink\ fish -- importance of\ blackfish -- trap\ trap -- making\ archery -- learning\ archers -- strength\ arrowhead -- material\ stone -- umiq\ arrowhead -- use\ food -- attitude toward\ food -- nonnative\ Bethel\ knife -- butter\ coffee -- beans\ cigarettes -- smoking\ tobacco -- using\ brand -- Bull\ tobacco -- products\ tobacco -- leaves\ tobacco -- medicinal|

Section 9: working -- hard\ sled -- construction\ sled -- freight\ sled -- runners\ dogs -- strong\ herders -- reindeer\ herders -- Laplanders (Saami)\ Akiak -- sawmill\ boat -- building\ George, Roy -- Pekaq\ Nick, Willie -- Caulaaq\ boat -- wooden\ construction -- nails\ pitch -- spruce\ waterproofing -- pitch\ pitch -- preparation\ boat -- skin\ skin boat -- care of\ wilderness -- foods\ wilderness -- knowledge\ moss -- sphagnum\ moss -- uruq\ moss -- collection\ moss -- preparation\ moss -- consumption\ oil -- seal|

Section 10: danger -- warning\ qasgiq -- guidance\ animal -- fur-bearing\ trap -- animal\ animal -- theft\ theft -- repercussions\ authority -- tribal\ authority -- disregard for\ disrespect -- punishment\ punishment -- banishment\ Bible -- reading\ scripture -- guidance\ congregation -- membership\ belief -- religious\ culture -- comparisons|

Section 11: temperatures -- annual\ temperatures -- subzero\ Akiachak -- temperature\ Bethel -- temperature\ winter -- extreme\ radios -- lack of\ school -- construction\ insulation -- lack of\ teachers -- clothing\ lighting -- candle\ lamps -- kerosene\ technology -- introduction\ culture -- exchange\ rainwater -- collection|

Section 12: aide -- health\ radio -- use\ radio -- name\ bones -- broken\ diagnosis -- means of\ stethoscope -- substitute\ tuberculosis -- symptoms\ tuberculosis -- testing for\ cancer -- symptoms\ medicine -- traditional\ willow -- bark\ willow -- use\ Buhach -- smoking\ tuberculosis -- treatment for|

Section 13: willow -- leaves\ trees -- medicinal\ birch -- sap\ sap -- ingestion\ pine -- needles\ pine -- extract\ epidemic -- diphtheria\ death -- rapid\ diphtheria -- cure for\ military -- assistance\ officials -- medical\ State -- intervention\ diphtheria -- quarantine\ Bethel\ Hangar Lake\ Andrew, Joe -- Kelucaq\ commodities -- prices|

Section 14: reindeer -- use\ reindeer -- transport\ reindeer -- harness\ reindeer -- sleigh\ travel -- winter\ reindeer -- ownership\ Department of Fish and Game\ hunting -- permission\ Juneau|

Section 15: Forrest, Marie -- children\ Samuelson, Harry\ Samuelson, Oscar\ Samuelson, John -- Datu\ Samuelson, John -- Cakayaq\ store -- inheritance\ Nani\ Nerby, Chris\ Samuelson, Teddy\ bunkhouse -- use\ Morgan\ sawmill -- operation\ Wilson\ children -- names\ store -- goods\ goods -- access\ turkey -- introduced\ turkey -- meal\ Bible -- story\ English -- learning\ school -- lack of learning\ Cuuqvak -- translator\ missionaries -- Moravian\ Russian Orthodox -- church\ Bethel\ George, Lott -- Kingutiq\ bicycle -- riding\ bicycle -- accidents\ smokehouse|

Section 16: barge -- arrival\ barge -- unloading\ work -- women\ death -- grieving\ clothing -- providing\ food -- giving\ Easter -- celebration\ services -- sunrise\ Easter -- song\ song -- name\ bell -- church\ coffee -- drinking\ husband -- Samuelson\ school -- basement\ well -- construction\ McDonald, Anna -- schoolteacher\ travel -- by ship\ death -- cancer\ Akiachak\ poisoning -- gas\ fumes -- gas\ Johnson, Jack -- Curaqaquller\ boots -- hip\ Blitz -- name\ lamps -- Coleman\ Steven, David -- Tacungqaq\ Nick, Robert -- Anirtuun\ Bethel\ paperwork -- legal\ Fairbanks\ mail -- delivery\ court -- hearings\ court -- fees|

Section 17: Johnson, Elizabeth -- widow\ Johnson, Elizabeth -- Nugeqpaq\ health -- mental\ death -- grieving\ stress -- behavior\ wilderness -- refuge\ Iilleq\ Kwethluk\ Nugeqpaq -- parents\ Marshal -- U.S.\ Bethel -- commissioner\ Washington, D.C.\ authority -- legal|

Section 18: English -- speaking\ coffee -- ordering\ communication -- drawing\ coffee -- Hills Brothers\ Hills Brothers -- label\ humor -- laughter\ laughter -- description\ Yukon River\ teacher -- English\ injury -- from nail\ cut -- finger\ Daniu\ Caucasians -- origination\ Aniak\ Bethel\ humor\ Anyaraq|