Tununak, Alaska {Eskimo Village}

Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik
What Minnesotan decides that March is the perfect time to leave the freezing cold to go visit… well the even more freezing cold? THIS LADY!!! And it was awesome!  This was truly an experience of a life time. Throughout my life, I have been so blessed by having good friends who live all around the world. One of these friends is Monica, who is a teacher in cozy little Yup’ik Eskimo village in an alcove along the Bering Sea. Monica and I have known each other since we were resident advisors together in college. It was quite exciting to be able to have the opportunity to go visit her. In order to get there, I had to take a four seat bush plane which flew for an hour over nothing but desolate tundra. The weather was barely flyable with blizzard conditions. The pilots who fly through the tundras of Alaska are known as some of the most talented pilots in the world, being able to maneuver dangerous weather conditions on a daily basis.  When the pilot said he was landing and I looked down at the driveway long landing strip  next to a little village filled with 300 people I thought… you have GOT to be kidding me! Where am I?

My experience truly enriched my life. In the short time I was there, I learned more than I could have imagined about this wonderful culture. A Yup’ik village is truly like visiting another country. They speak their own language, hunt their own food, live their lives very differently through their culture, yet they are part of the United States. Who knew? Even though I should have, I had not taken the time to consider this before my experience. I enjoyed being able to capture their culture through my photography. I consider it an honor. There are so many stories that need to be shared from my adventure that I hope to be able to one day tell all of you. For now, please take a moment to enjoy a few of the moments I captured during my time in Tununak.

Here are a few of the things I experienced while I was there:
*Flew in a small bush plane and didn’t get sick or crash
*Snow machined through the tundra’s to visit another village to watch a cultural festival
*Chased wild Musk Ox on the Mountains
*Learned how to Yuraq (u-huck) which is traditional Yup’ik dance
*Spent time talking with a village elder who weaves with tundra grass
*Spent time in the classrooms of the school with the children learning the Yup’ik Culture

I had so much fun spending time with Monica and her friends that when it came time to leave, I had tears in my eyes. Deep down inside I hoped my plane would be canceled. I would love to visit again some day if the opportunity is still there. I feel there is still so much more to capture of their culture with my camera. Such beautiful people! Such a trip of a lifetime!

Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

First view of the Village


Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

House by the Ocean


Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Fishing Racks


Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Musk Ox head on a house


Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Pauline Pitka: Tundra Grass Weaver


Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Dance Fans and Headress


Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Yuraq Dancing

Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

That's me learning to Yuraq


Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Monica's Class


Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Eskimo Youth Olympics


Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

My new Tununak Friends


Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Beautiful Yup'ik Baby


Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Mountain Tops


Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

"Rock People"

Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Chasing Musk Ox


Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Musk Ox ready to charge me!

Tununak, Alaska, Yup'ik

Snow Machine Buddies


Cross overlooking the village

Sunset over the Alcove


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Camai Dance Fesival


'Oh my Honey"

Volcano in Anchorage


43 Responses to “Tununak, Alaska {Eskimo Village}”

  1. Monica Vest says:

    Hi there! Would you be interested in allowing me to shadow you at your studio or on location for a day or two? You are very talented and I would love if you would teach me some of your techniques. I am a photography student right now.

  2. Kelly Hermes says:

    Can I just say what a relief to discover a person who essentially is aware of what they’ re discussing within the world of photography. Your images are a delight to eye. I have been to the Yup’ik region before but have not been able to get out to such remote villages. I love the way you captured the beauty of the people. I’ll be reading this blog on a daily basis. Thank you!

  3. Jeff Blake says:

    Hey! I found your blog while googling this festival and your photos were WAY better than the ones that they had on their site! Thanks for sharing!!!

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  6. Rich says:

    I am doing a research paper for school on Yup’ik Eskimos. Is there any chance that I could ask you a few questions about what you learned and used a few of your images for my project for school?

  7. Andrew Pelt says:

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  15. Albert George says:

    hi!,You photography is perfection and I really like your writing so much! I used to live in the Yup’ik region and I have never seen such wonderful photographs of the culture. You really captured the beauty of the people. I am going to be sure to pass this blog on to other people that I know from the area and perhaps they will buy some of your work. I wish you all the best in your photography. You have an amazing gift.


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