Kangrilnguum yuluaqallerkamtenek qanrutakut, part 1

by Sophie Evan on March 26, 2013

Dr. Paul John  photo by S.Evan

Dr. Paul John photo by S.Evan

A well-known Yup’ik elder, Dr. Paul John of Toksook Bay, gave a lecture at the Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel last week. He spoke to a roomful of people about his Yup’ik beliefs and how he, as a Yup’ik elder, lives in today’s modern world.

Yup’ik:

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English:

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Room 118 at the Kuskokwim Campus was filled with about 40 people, wanting to hear what Dr. Paul John had to share. He started out by introducing himself, with modesty, insisting that he is embarrassed about the fact that he has no western education. Dr. John asked the question of, why then would organizations seek him out to be on their governing boards and as a guest lecturer when he doesn’t even have any formal western education?

Despite the fact that Dr. John knows little English, he was given an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks two years ago, and he is now an honorary board member for YKHC, and the hospital governing board. He also sits on Calista’s elder’s council, is the traditional chief of AVCP, and is chief for his home village of Toksook Bay as well. Dr. John says he didn’t even learn how to count or recite the alphabet in English.

Dr. John speculated for himself that it must be because he believes in himself as a Yup’ik man. That despite all the western educated workforce and information available, various organizations seek his Yup’ik insight on many issues, ranging from identifying obsolete Yup’ik tools, to parenting and regional governance.

Dr. John encouraged all the Yup’ik people in the audience to believe in themselves as a Yup’ik person and to be grounded in the Yup’ik ways.
How that can happen will be part two of our series on Dr. John’s lecture.

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