Excerpt from Yup’ik Words of Wisdom/ Yupiit Qanruyutait

Written by Heather Penn

Transcriptions and Translations from the Yup’ik by Alice Reardon

with Marie Meade

Edited by Ann Fienup-Reordan


The instructions are the same

Hilary Kairaiuyak, November 2000


And when you do to the other villages, they speak of similar lessons because they are the same. When one arrives in a particular village and hears a person giving instruction to other, he will recognize those teaching he heard in his hometown because they are the same. There are no other [rules that people live by], and rules only broken by those who go against them.


There are rules against every peril

Frank Andrew, June 1995


People lived in harmony and peace when instructions were thoroughly followed by people back in those days. There were inerquutet [admonishments] for everything we did. There are so many warning in our everyday life. There are admonitions we have to know for every hazardous situation. Every bad situation that could annihilate a person usually has an admonition attached to it. But you try to steer and encourage people toward security and success.


If something has an admonition attached to it, it’s best to stay away from it even though it appears to be trivial and fun. There are admonitions for everything that can set you back. There are admonitions that have been passed down from generation to generation for everything that can negatively affect a person. But there is encouragement toward things that bring good to people.


About the author

Heather Penn

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