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Qaluyaaq: An archeology survey and oral histories collection of Nelson Island, Alaska

Benjamin H Barnette, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this dissertation is to present certain data of an archeological survey and oral histories collection project conducted on Nelson Island, Alaska in 1983 and 1984. Those two seasons presented me with the opportunity to observe, listen, and interact with Yupik Eskimo people who had experienced the transition from a mobile settlement pattern to one based on permanent villages and had lived a traditional, subsistence life way. Those two seasons likewise afforded me the circumstance to record their settlements as archeological sites, their oral histories concerning their villages, camps, material culture, society, traditions, and their human experiences. ^ Located in western Alaska along the Bering Sea coast and geographically isolated the "Qaluyaarmiut" indigenous Yupik Eskimos of " Qaluyaaq" Nelson Island, Alaska continued a traditional way of life well into the 20th century. During the first two decades of the 1900s local Native Elders as children and young adults built and lived in underground sod houses; followed a seasonal round between villages and camps traveling by kayak, skin boat, and dog sled; and fished and hunted the open streams and the Bering Sea coast to provide a living for their families. ^ This dissertation discusses 47 habituation sites and the oral histories associated with the settlements which include 84 taped interviews conducted with 43 Nelson Island Eskimo Elders. Specifically, it will focus on the traditional settlement patters of the Nelson Island Eskimo relating to their seasonal round and the variables affecting not only the types of settlements but also the locally utilized resources as well.^ The seasonal exploitation of natural resources by the Bering Sea and Nelson Island Eskimo has been duly noted. However, without the benefit of a substantial archeological survey the seasonal activities can not be geographically associated to a seasonal location. Additionally, the added benefit of oral histories concerning the sites allows for a more intensive research potential than archeology alone can provide.^

Subject Area

Anthropology, Archaeology|Anthropology, Cultural|Native American Studies

Recommended Citation

Barnette, Benjamin H, "Qaluyaaq: An archeology survey and oral histories collection of Nelson Island, Alaska" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3366033.