National Geographic : 2017 Apr
148 national geographic • april 2017 the Village oF QUinhagaK sits on Yupik land at the mouth of the Kanektok River, which winds across the tundra in wide loops before spilling into the Bering Sea. A few gravel streets run past a school, church, post office, supermarket, hard- ware store, health clinic, gas station, washateria, cell phone tower, and three sleek wind turbines that spin in the brisk sea breeze. Officially, 745 people live here, in metal-roofed, wood-frame houses that perch on stilts a foot or so above the once frozen ground. But on any given day the actual population may be larger, swelled by relatives who have come to stay for several weeks, and residents of nearby villages who have come to shop, visit friends, and maybe pull in a few fish. Based in an office building that also serves as the archaeologists’ headquarters, 50-year- old Warren Jones is president of the local Yupik corporation known as Qanirtuuq, Inc., manag- ing its 130,564 acres, overseeing its businesses and financial assets, and negotiating contracts with the outside world. But he’d really rather be hunting, he tells me. Along with almost ev- eryone else here, he follows the same cycles of subsistence as the generations of Yupiks who came before him. “Most of our diet is from the stuff we gather, On a visit to 86-year-old Carrie Pleasant (right), Sarah Brown gets advice on sewing a beaver-skin parka. Pleasant made fur garments for all 10 of her children, but kids today usually wear store-bought clothing. “Things are changing so much,” she said wistfully. Pleasant has since passed away.