The traditional economic activity of the Yupik was the hunting of sea mammals, especially seals, walrus, and, until the latter half of the 19th century, whales. Trade with the Russians developed at the end of the 19th century. The Yupik also traded with neighbouring reindeer breeders and others. Some enterprising Yupik specialized in trade and used their economic advantage to become village chiefs, with such functions as opening and closing the hunting season, helping to mediate quarrels, and deciding the times for trade journeys. Hunting methods included harpooning from shore or boats, spearing animals in land drives, and, later, the use of guns. Hunting fur-bearing animals, fishing, and collecting plant food were auxiliary activities.
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All rights reserved. Then Elizaveta disappeared into the back room of her apartment in Lavrentiya, Chukotka, and came back cradling a dark wooden carving. Its eyes slanted down to a long nose, and many thin vertical lines extended below the chin. Elizaveta told me that the lines represent tattoos and indicate that this figure is a woman. Elizaveta Dobrieva consults Yiakunneun, a wooden figure that has been in her family for four or five generations, during difficult times in her life. She showed me how she would talk to it, consulting it during difficult times in her life.
The Yupiit speak the Yup'ik language. Of a total population of about 21, people, about 10, speak the language. The Yup'ik Eskimo combine a contemporary and a traditional subsistence lifestyle in a blend unique to the Southwest Alaska.
Those notches made her think of the flames of the qulliq , the seal oil lamp. Underneath that, several rows of upside-down y-shapes completed a cap sleeve, and all the way down the rest of the arm, there were short, broken stitches made to look like columns and columns of caribou sinews, neatly lined up for sewing; they fanned out across her heavy arms, almost to the elbow. Ellen never thought to ask what the designs meant—she understood their purpose to be inherent in their uncomplicated beauty. But one day, after watching her grandma's arms all morning—how they curved as she flexed while doing the dishes or just shifting on the couch—she searched for a black marker. The older woman looked up.