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Ben "Nuŋŋasauraq" Nungasak

Ben Nungasak

Ben Nungasak (Nuŋŋasauraq) was born in 1913 in Barrow, Alaska, but his father died when he was young. As a youth, beginning when he was 14, 15, or 16, he herded reindeer for about five years with the Barrow herd, spending quite a bit of time in the lower Meade River area. While he was growing up, Ben depended upon his uncle, Amos Ekosik (Ikusik) to teach him about hunting. During one winter, 1934, Ben and his uncle went trapping up the Ikpikpak River to Aviullaavik, but it appears that his uncle taught him mostly about the Meade and Isuqtuq Rivers. They would travel inland on the Isuqtuq to hunt, an area Amos had learned from an old man, Kuutchiuraq, sometime in the 1920's. One of the places they went to was Anauliġiaq.

Ben also learned about the upper Meade River from people he met while traveling with his uncle. His account of Siiḷḷak, a caribou hunting site, illustrates how he learned: "I hear them talking about that, my uncle and Walter's (Walter Akpik's) father, talking about that. Qargiqaġuuvluti. (They had a qargi there)."
 In the spring of 1937, they traveled to the Colville River, going up the Meade River to the Awuna River. They returned to Barrow in the fall, and that's when Ben got married. In later years, Amos wintered at Qagluġruaq on the Meade River, downriver from the village of Atqasuk.

Ben trapped for a while between Barrow and Wainwright. After his marriage, he started staying with his in-laws in Wainwright and introduced them to the Isuqtuq area. Ben liked to go trapping and traveling on the Isuqtuq with his companion, Henry Nashaknik. They hauled coal from the Meade River by dog team, from the sites of Aŋutiġruaq and Itqiuraq to their camps along the Isuqtuq. When prices for fox skins got low, Ben started looking for a wage job. He started working for the Navy in 1948 at the Naval Arctic Research Laboratory (NARL) in Barrow, and worked for the Navy and their contractors for nearly thirty years before retiring in 1976. He used his vacations of two or three weeks per year to hunt for meat and to fish, often after the mid-1960's at Qikiqtaqturuq.
 Ben Nungasak passed away on March 15, 1988.

(Biographical section from Quliaqtuat Iñupiat Nunaŋiññiñ - The Report of the Chipp-Ikpikpuk River and Upper Meade River Oral History Project. W. Arundale and W. Schneider, 1987.)

Date of Birth:
Oct 18, 1913
Date of Death:
Mar 15, 1988
Ben "Nuŋŋasauraq" Nungasak appears in the following new Jukebox projects: