As traditional communities such as the Yup’ik in Alaska face a variety of changes, cultural traditions and wisdom passed on from elders help them to sustain their way of life.
The Yup’ik are one of 11 distinct cultures of Native Alaskans. Located in Southwest Alaska, the Yup’ik still depend upon subsistence fishing, hunting, and gathering greens around their villages. Elders tell stories of traditional ways of life as a way to teach younger generations both survival skills and about their heritage.*
As in other parts of Alaska, the Yup’ik have witnessed dramatic lifestyle changes in the last 50 years. One of the most visible is the huge rise in the use of snowmobiles and motorized boats, which help to make their subsistence living a bit easier in this harsh locale.** The Yup’ik have also noticed extreme changes in their environment. Less overall precipitation has resulted in lower lake and river levels, diminishing salmon habitat. At the same time, the melting of the permafrost—on which many villages are built—has caused serious flooding, erosion, and the rippling of the landscape, which damages village infrastructure. In fact, numerous Yup’ik villages may be forced to relocate because of severe coastal erosion.
Connections to National Standards
Common Core English Language Arts. SL.11-12.1.c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies. D2.Geo.9.9-12. Evaluate the influence of long-term climate variability on human migration and settlement patterns, resource use, and land uses at local-to-global scales.
Next Generation Science Standards. HS-LS2-6. Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.