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Tom "Nurauq" Kasayulie
Tom Nurauq Kasayulie was a Yup'ik elder born on November 15, 1918 to Mary Qen'rauq Kasayulie near Dillingham, Alaska. Tom was raised by his mother and his uncle from Akiak, Willie Kasayulie, a younger brother of his mother. After his mother died, Tom moved to Akiachak when he was a boy, and then during an influenza epidemic he moved to the mountains where he became a reindeer herder and trapper along with people then called Laplanders (Saami). Tom remembers when the first school was built in Akiachak in 1926. He began working in a Bristol Bay cannery when he was 16 years old, and later was a commercial fisherman in the Bristol Bay area for many years. He prospected for gold in his younger days. He worked with the construction of the airport across from Bethel during World War II, and in 1954 lived in Anchorage working on the railroad and construction of the Seward Highway. Tom decided to move back to Akiachak because he did not want his children to lose their Yup’ik culture and language. During 1966-67, Tom began working as a maintenance man and custodian for the Akiachak Bureau of Indian Affairs School, where he worked year-round until he retired. He was a member of the IRA Council and a board member for the Akiachak Corporation. Tom's first wife was Carrie Lake, and his second wife was Elsie (Wassilie) Kasayulie, with whom he had six children (three of whom were still living in 2006), 15 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. He taught all of his children and grandchildren how to subsistence hunt and fish, taking them moose and bear hunting in the mountains. Tom Kasayulie passed away in 2009 at age 90.
Biography written by Sophie Kasayulie of the Yupiit School District.