BETHEL — An Alaska nonprofit organization is encouraging residents of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to share stories about the region’s rich history as it works to ensure future generations have access to knowledge about the Yupik culture.
Calista Education and Culture is collecting traditional names and stories of places to add to an interactive online map of the delta in Yupik and English, KYUK-AM reported (http://bit.ly/2lClXWx) Thursday.
The organization has been hosting a workshop in Bethel this week to teach members of the community how to add their knowledge of Yupik history to the online tool.
Creating the map has been a decade-long effort by Calista and the Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic.
“It started out with place names, and it now has a number of Yupik stories,” said Peter Pulsifer, a geographer and investigator for ELOKA. “And it has not only mapping, but it has audio, video, documents, and all of it relates to Yupik history, Yupik culture and the Yupik worldview.”
The map now has 3,000 Yupik place names of camp and settlement sites, rivers, sloughs, rocks, ponds, sandbars and underwater channels.
Eva Malvich, director of the Yupiit Piciryarait Museum, is attending the three-day workshop held at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Kuskokwim Campus, which ends Friday. She said the interactive online mapping tool will help Yupik traditions live on.
“It’s not just talking about a place name. It’s what people did in that area,” Malvich said. “Because we are not out hunting and fishing quite as much as we used to be, we are losing that information, and it should be retained so that if my great-great grandchildren decide that they want to go out and explore the area where I was raised, they will be able to go to this website and find the fish camp that I grew up in.”