Nunalleq past and present – discovering a Yup’ik archaeological heritage

Author(s): Charlotta Hillerdal

Year: 2015


The Yup’ik, the Indigenous people of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, have since the 19th century been in the centre of ethnographic research in the Arctic. Yup’ik customs and material culture have been collected and investigated with the pretext of preserving a ‘vanishing’ traditional lifeway. Today Yup’ik culture is vibrant with a strong connection to traditional subsistence strategies and ways of life. However, Yup’ik history is very much the history of the ‘Other’, retold and written from a post-contact Western perspective. Yup’ik history, however, has much deeper roots than that, and archaeology can provide an insight to this neglected part of the Yup’ik past.

This paper presents the Nunalleq (‘old village’) archaeology project, built in collaboration between archaeologists and the Yup’ik community of Quinhagak, Alaska. Focusing on a Bering Sea pre-contact village site, it strives to bring together archaeological investigations and local traditional knowledge to recover a forgotten Yup’ik past. The intersection between past and present created by the archaeological process shapes a meaningful material heritage, embedded in the local culture and animated by scientific discoveries. When in true partnership with local stakeholders, archaeology can contribute to strengthen Indigenous heritage.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Nunalleq past and present – discovering a Yup’ik archaeological heritage. Charlotta Hillerdal. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395825)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -178.41; min lat: 62.104 ; max long: 178.77; max lat: 83.52 ;