Iliamna Lake Nanvarpak Ethnogeography: Yup’ik and Contemporary Place Names and Stories of these Places




Indigenous Place Names, Yu'pik, Alaska, Illiamna Lake, Central Yup'ik language, community-based participatory research


This article explores Iliamna Lake ethnogeography through place names and associated stories about these places through Yup’ik eyes. Iliamna Lake has been home to Indigenous Peoples of Central Yup’ik, Dena’ina, Alutiiq (or Sugpiaq), and other language groups for generations. Many Iliamna Lake residents in the twenty-first century have multicultural heritages because of intermarriages and sharing territorial boundaries. When telling about place names, Iliamna Lake Yup’ik Elders often weave their personal experiences and local histories into their narratives, such as their seasonal routes and the arrival of newcomers in the region. My research revealed that telling and retelling stories of places enables people to visualize their landscapes while affirming and reinforcing the knowledge that has enabled them to survive and thrive in the region for many generations. Ethnogeography addresses, from community perspectives, how these cultural landscapes intertwine with local histories and changes in the land.

Author Biography

Yoko Kugo, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Arctic and Northern Studies





Research Articles