300 Villages: Kwigillingok

This week we’re headed 77 miles southwest of Bethel to the village of Kwigillingok. Andrew Beaver is the tribal administrator for the Native Village of Kwigillingok.

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“My name is Andrew Beaver, I’m the tribal administrator for governing body, Native Village of Kwigillingok. I’m also a church elder.

I’m only ninety year young, I don’t feel that old, and I have 13 grandchildren. And I’m married and I have my own, my own children, that are grown adults now, supporting themselves.

I feel I’m still in my mid-age. Like in 40, 45, 40 year old. Because I’m very active; I go out to tundra and enjoy the nature. I don’t stay put in once place.

Personally, I enjoyed going out doing subsistence [for fun]; it’s part of our recreation, like a we enjoy the natural environment, um, and that’s natural. Like when I’m stressed out at work, I work for my tribe in the office, and I can go out into nature, nature environment, and be out there. And many times my stress feelings are [done with] out there, and by the time I come back I’m no longer stressed out. I’m ready to go back to a stressful work.

We’re pretty much done with our summer subsistence fishing. We dried salmon and we eat some of them…. and right now we’re in the process of drying smaller fish, and right up to freezing, when the ice is thickened up on the river we dipnet for tom-cots and that’s part of our winter food supply.

Unusually it’s warm. By this time it should be frozen. The river still is pretty open. There’s a thin ice on lakes, and this is not normal. Last year it was frozen by this time of the year.

I think we’re pretty much adapted to any season, unusual season like this. We’re, right now, we’re still doing our subsistence activities, like before freeze-up, we continue with that.

We don’t have any restaurants or hotels, but we have places where people can sleep — like families open their doors, bringing strangers in. The school also opens their doors to have somebody stay there at minimum cost. But we have a general store with mostly canned foods and limited food or refrigerated. It’s not like in city. But, uh, the necessary basic needs for community.

I think our community is keeping their language, Yup’ik language; that’s our first language and 99 percent of our population speaks our language fluently. And our second language is English, not that much.”

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