Alaska native groups Yupik and Inupiaq are found on two continents and four countries, Greenland, Alaska, Siberia, and Canada/ Labrador.

This is their story.

     

The map above show the distribution of the various native groups, most belong to native corporations.

This map generally shows where most Yupik live. 

A very nice view of the area under discussion, a nice map by Magellan.

A nice view of Baffin Island between Canada and Greenland. Several Inupiaq villages are located on this large island.

A Baffin Island Inupiaq native of the Thule Greenland group.

  Scientists with relevant disciplines agree that native people came to Alaska from North Asia and Siberia at the close of the last Ice Age.

Differences between languages and dialects at least suggest that several groups issued from different areas of Asia and made the crossing whether on foot or by boat at different times.

Analysis of serum proteins extracted from blood volunteered by Alaska Indians link them to more relatives in northeastern Siberia. Since migrants came first from Asia and later from Siberia, that suggests that migrations were staggered and the Indians came first and Eskimo-Aleut migrations came last.

Archeologists tentatively set the timeline for staggered migration at 12,000 BC for the first migrants, 10,000-12,000 BC for Indians and  8000-9000 BC for Aleuts and Eskimos. 

Four Yupik languages are presently spoken by peoples known as Eskimos. The Inuit (Eastern Eskimo) is spoken from northern Alaska thru Canada to Greenland. Yupik is spoken along Bristol Bay from Nome down to the Aleutians and including villages up the Kuskoquim River.  Aleut spoken by peoples of the Aleutian Islands. Another language is nearly extinct, Sirenikski of Siberia, is grouped with Yupik languages, but is probably another branch of the language.

Kodiak and Ocean Bay cultures have many similarityes with Eskimo societies, but the facts are unproven. 

More adaptations appeared about 2500 BC where the people of this Small Tool Tradition (Denbigh Flint Complex) were also presented as being the first Eskimos and first invaders.

Researchers have estimated that Aleut split  from the Eskimo language around 2000 BC; Inyupik at around 600 AD. Another theory was  advanced that Yupik might also be related to a pair of Siberian languages, Chukchi-Koryak and Kamchadal, from around 3000 BC. 

The peoples of the Chukchi Peninsula at the tip  of Siberia look like Alaska Eskimos except that they herd caribou instead of hunting them.

From 2500 BC, Inuit speaking Eskimos moved  across Canada. By 2000 BC they had reached and settled northern Greenland.

In the 13th and 14th centuries a mini ice age cooled the earth and forced northern peoples south to a warmer climate and more abundant game. On Greenland they migrated south as invaders and completely wiped out the Viking settlement on that island.

Thule Eskimos (Greenland) were quite mobile and adaptive and until recent years traveled by dog team across the ice to Canada.

Today the Inupiaq culture from Point Barrow to Greenland, with some conservation rules, still subsist much as they did a thousand years ago, on fish, bowhead whales and sea mammals.

Yupik who live south of Nome down are in the salmon area and rely more on fish than they do sea mammals. Added help to natives come from government subsidies for heat and help by other government welfare programs.  

Watchman on alert for passing Bowhead Whales. As a whale passes by an alert is  sounded. Thewhaling crew crew launches their umiak and the hunt is on..

A Thule native waits silently for a unwary seal to rise for air.

Duck hunters from Bethel, a Kuskoquim River community of Yupik Eskimos. This photo was taken about fifty years ago.

fun histories 2002