Yuungnaqpiallerput - The Way We Genuinely Live - Masterworks of Yup'ik Science and Survival

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Tools of the Qasgi

Ciklaq Ax



Paul John said: "Even though I am amazed by all these artifacts, my mind regards this mighty ax as the most worthy of respect. Compared to today's axes, its blade is really dull, but to them it was sharp. Thinking of that, I am overwhelmed by the way my ancestors lived before Western tools came around."


L- 30 in
W- 17 in


J. A. Jacobsen, 1882, Ethnologisches Museum Berlin IVA5256

Photo: Ann Fienup-Riordan

Paul John demonstrates the use of a walrus-tusk ax at the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin, 1997. - Photo- Ann Fienup-Riordan

Mer'un Water BucketBucket


Mer'ek taukuk tamarmeng ukut tamakumiut meq'erkaulukek. Murilkellukek cali tua-i uksuungraan. Qaluuritaicuitellruut.

Two water buckets belonged to all the men in the qasgi. They carefully watched them, even in winter. They always had a dipper right there to drink with.
--Frank Andrew, Kwigillingok


H- 8 3/4 in
Diameter- 8 in


Anchorage Museum

Qalun DipperDipper


Dipper with Raven's-foot design on its underside.

Mary Ann Sundown noted, "The men in our family had Raven's footprint as their emblem from the beginning."


L- 16 1/4 in
W- 4 1/2 in
H- 3 in


Phoebe Apperson Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley 2 5732

Kenngessuutet Fire-making ToolsFirestarter


Frank Andrew recalled: "They say that nasal mucus makes it easy to start fires. When they used fire starting tools, they would smear some of their snot onto the edge of this fireboard. They say the fire starts right away."


L- 15 1/2 In
W- 1 in
H- 1 in


Togiak, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University 50030

Paul John Demonstrating Friction Fire-making.


Paul noted: "You might be repulsed by the idea of holding the mouthpiece with your teeth, but in my opinion, our Provider has not brought it to us with bad intentions. Back when it was used it was regarded as clean and was used by many individuals."

Fire Tools Demonstration
Photo- Ann Fienup-Riordan

Kenurraq Stone Lamp and Lamp StandOil Lamp


Frank Andrew noted: "They placed lamps on lamp stands that were concave on top. They didn't have lamp stands in homes, only in the qasgi."


Stone Lamp
L- 8 in
W- 6 3/4 in
H- 3 1/4 in

Lamp Stand
H- 6 1/2 in
Diameter- 3 1/4 in


S. Jackson, 1890s, Sheldon Jackson Museum IISO27, IIY008

Qasgimi kenurrat auluksaraat Care of Qasgi Lamps

Murilkelluki tua-i makut kenurrat angutet. Aipateng qanrutaqluki kumarutkait uqurkait-llu ikegliniaqatki. Ukut family-t angayuqrita itrutaqluki uqurkaitnek, kumarutkaitnek-llu kenurrat caqumaluteng. Tua-i pikiumaurluki.

These lamps were cared for by men. When it was announced that they were getting low on lamp wicks and oil, they would notify their wives. The family head would come into the qasgi with more oil and wicks for the lamps wrapped and ready for use.

--Frank Andrew, Kwigillingok



Una kenurraq piciatun uqumek kumasuumauq, neqem-llu uquanek. Caciit-llu aqsaqurrit egaluki ipugqurluki imumi qeleklallrukait makunun tua uquknaluki. Cetuat uquit assiklallruit anglicartema.

You can use any kind of oil to light the lamp, including fish oil. They cooked sheefish entrails, and oil was spooned out from the broth and used as oil for these [lamps]. My parents and those who raised me especially liked saving beluga oil.

--Willie Kamkoff, Kotlik

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