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John Wassillie

John Wassillie was interviewed on September 5, 1988 by Robert Drozda and Vernon Chimegalrea. Vernon was the Yup'ik language interpreter during the interview. The Yupik transcription and English translation were done by Lucy Coolidge Daniels of the Alaska Native Language Center, with computer entry by Abraham Friendly and Irene Reed, and proofreading and some editing by Irene Reed. Parts of the original audio that were not consecutive have been combined together to make the following sections. In these excerpts of the interview, John speaks in Yup'ik about living at Pugcenar for spring and fall camp with his mother and her husband, Mike Cyril, and using a fish weir to block the river and harvest fish. He also talks about changes to the Elaayiq River, and other traditional spring and fall camps in the area.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History BIA ANCSA 88CAL189

Project: Pugcenar
Date of Interview: Sep 5, 1988
Narrator(s): John Wassillie
Interviewer(s): Robert Drozda, Vernon Chimegalrea
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Science Foundation
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

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


Whitefish, pike, and berries at Pugcenar.

Changes in Elaayiq River at Pugcenar.

Spending the winter at Pugcenar.

Blocking the Elaayiq River to fish for whitefish and pike.

Tevneq fall camp upriver from Pugcenar.

Qakeglualek spring camp between Pugcenar and Tevneq.

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.


Vernon Chimegalrea: Kitak una Pugceneq–qaa una nallunritan? Now this, do you know about this Pugceneq? John Wassillie: Aa, nallunritaqa; tuani cali up'nerkilallruukut. Tua–i–ll' augna aanama, pia, aipangutii–w', atama kinguani yuunrillran aipangutii, tuavet uksuilliluta. Uksuillilutek–wa. Tuani tua–i kuik capluku makunek akakiignek, piciatun, iluqruuyagnek–llu neqyaarnek–llu nerumauraraqluta tuani. Neqkegcipiarluta, atsat– ll' amllelaameng, imkut wani, augkut tenguit neqet, neq'liluki, augglugnek–wa (avugglugnek–wa?) pilaqeput wangkuta – atsanek qivirluku uquatnek–llu uqirluki nerluta. Tua–i kaiyuunata! Uitaurayuilamta–w'; uitauralria cangqerrngailan tuaten pilallrulriakut. I know about it; we had a spring camp there, also. Then my mother's, the husband she got that is, the husband she got after my father passed away, there we set up a fall camp. The two of them set up a fall camp. There by blockading the river (setting up fish weirs) for these white fish, all kinds, and pike and little fish, we would stay fed there a long time. We had very good food, and because berries were in abundance, we made food out of fish liver—we call them auggluk (or avuggluk?)—by mixing berries with them and using their own oil for fat, we would eat. Never did we go hungry! It's because were never idle; because one who is idle/sits around won't have anything, we did all that. Tua–i–ll' tuan' ciuqlirmek taumek aanaka uingeqallerraallermini (uingeqarraallermini). Maigmek pilallrukiit, Mike Cyril—aamek, taumek uingeqarraallran; uani uaqlimteni – cameg–am pilallruyaaqaat – Kuigeurlurmiut, tuani nuniitni uitalallrurraarluta upagluta tuavet Pugcenermun. Then when my mother first got married – they called him Mike, Mike Cyril – when she first got married to him, at this place downriver from us – they called it something – Kuigeurlurmiut. After having stayed there, we would relocate to Pugceneq.

John Wassillie: Waten, iciw' igg'acugmeg, iciw' igg'acugmeg augkut pilaraput waten maa–i ayagluni tua–i–ll' waten alqunaq waten elli'irrluni. Iciw' pagaani ingna qanrutkelaqiit kenurralingnaqsaaqekiit maa–i. Igg'acugmek pilaraat Yugtun–wa. Iciw' waten kuig man' ayagluni, tua–i–ll' waten alqunaq im' ekviuluni, meq–llu piluni... Tua– i–ll' tuani up'nerkiyallremteni Mike yuunrillruuq tuani. Pugcenermi. You know, we call those things "igg'acuk" where something will go along like this then suddenly become this way. You know, they talk about a place up there that they're now trying to provide with lights. They called it "Igg'acuk", in Yup'ik, that is. You know, this river will go along, then suddenly turning into (becoming?) a bluff, and the water doing something... It was there at Pugceneq, when we went to spring camp, that Mike passed away… Vernon Chimegalrea: Qaill'–kiq ak'allartaa tauna Pugcener? I wonder how old that Pugceneq is? John Wassillie: Nutem–wa tua–i up'nerkiyaraullrull' ak'a... Atam nunallret pavan' amllertut. Ciuliamta nunallrit. Wii, wangkuta–ll' yuurpailemta – amllertut atam, can'gurnerraurturluteng nunallret tamarmeng.It was a spring camp site from the beginning. See, there are many former settlements up in that area. Our ancestors' former settlements. And before we were born – see, there are many of them, all of them grassy plots.

Vernon Chimegalrea: ... tauna Pugcener–qaa tauna uksurpak–llu yungqelallruuq? That place, that place Pugcener; was it occupied all winter by people? John Wassillie: Yaa, yaa. Maigenkuk aanaka–ll' tuani uitalallruuk uksurpak. Kiirrarmek. Elitnauryaurpailemt–– elitnaurvingvailemta–ll' Taqikarpagmi uitaqalallruukut uksuq, taug'm uksuq iqukletevkenaku maavet taigaqluta. Yes, Mike and my mother used to stay there all winter. All by themselves. And before we had schools, we used to stay awhile at Taqikarpak but would come back here before winter was over.

John Wassillie: Piiyaurpailegma Kuigeurlurmun taun Mike uitalallruuq. Tua– i–ll' uitarraarluta, tua–i–ll' qamavet Pugcenermun upagluta. Before I was old enough to do things, that Mike used to stay at Kuigeurluq. Then after we stayed, then we moved upriver to Pugceneq. Vernon Chimegalrea: Ciin–kiq nugtartellruceci? I wonder why you moved? John Wassillie: Tua–i–w' assikluku cali. Angussaallengqerran tauna tuani. Kuik capluku nerlallrulriakut, neqnek–w' akakiignek, neqyaarnek, eluqruuyagnek tuaten. It's that we also liked it. Because that place afforded a catch. By blockading the river (setting up weirs), we used to eat, fish, that is, white fish, little fish, and even pike.

Vernon Chimegalrea: Kitak, ukuk, ukut–gguq, up'nerkiviit ukuk Tevnerem Qipcarpiim–llu akunlegkegni apertuqerki piyugngakuvki. Would you, he asks, point out, if you can, spring camps between these two, Tevneq and Qipcarpak. John Wassillie: Up'nerkiviit–qaa? Spring camps? Vernon Chimegalrea: Ii–i. Yes. John Wassillie: Atam, Tevner ima tanem kiani Pugcenrem kiatiin yaaqsinrilkiini, tuani cali uksuitullruut Tevnermi. Augna–wa Paul, Paul, Paul Steven–aamek pilalput tuani uksuilallrulria. Kiani–llu Pugcenrem kiatiini, Qakeg(g)lualegmeg augg' piaqluku, tuani cali paingani up'nerkilallruut, piyulriit–wa tua–i. Oh, Tevneq is upriver, not far from the upriver part of Pugceneq, that's where they also used to go to fall camp, at Tevneq. That one that we used to call Paul Steven used to have a fall camp there. And upriver, upriver from Pugceneq, a place they called Qakeg(g)lualek, there at its mouth they used to have a spring camp. Those who wanted to, that is.

Vernon Chimegalrea: Qakeglualek–gguq nantellrua. He asks about where Qakeglualek was. John Wassillie: Pugcenrem kiatiini yaaqsigpek'naku. Upriver from Pugceneq, not far from it. Vernon Chimegalrea: Tevnerem–gguq–qaa ua–...? He asks, down__ from Tevneq? John Wassillie: Yaa. Yes. Vernon Chimegalrea: ... uatiini? ...downriver from? John Wassillie: Pugcenrem Tevnerem–llu qukaagni. Tevnerem canimenaku cali. Aren qukaagni–w' uitallrulria Qakeglualek. Between Pugceneq and Tevneq. Also near Tevneq. Oh. Qakeglualek was in between the two. Vernon Chimegalrea: Tamaani tamaavirtelallerpeceni, iciw' up'nerkiyaaraqluci tamaavet tua–i–w' tamaavet, qavcinek–kiq allrakungqellrusit? At that time when you used to travel to that area, you know, you would go to spring camp to that area – to that area, that is, I wonder how old you were? John Wassillie: Naamell'. Ayagyuarlua–w' tamaa–i tamaani ayagyuarlua, tan'gaurlullrualua, tamaan' up'nerkilallruukut. Allrakut–llu murilkessuitellruamteki. Allrakuput. I don't know. I was young (just starting out), at that time when I was young, just a boy, we used to have our spring camp. And we never kept track of years. Our years.