“I hear the more you get to know about me the more you hate me! [Laughs]. I like to make people laugh, thats all. It’s better to be happy, and not to be sad.
I was born in Eek, Alaska and moved down here to Quinhagak when I got married 50 years ago. I have spent most of my adult life in public service to Quinhagak. I started off doing administrative work with the Tribal Council, then [Alaska Native] land claims came about and I was involved in the village corporation as being one of the incorporators here in ’73. I was involved for 20 years and retired after that. Then I was involved with the Council, and I still am today, still in and out! [Laughs].
I was a fisherman for a long time on the Kuskokwim [River], so I became involved with the fishing concerns of the state. The [fish] resources have been getting low—even here. We are still able to sufficiently get our subsistence needs. We were restricted for the first time this summer for the take on king salmon; we were restricted to fishing three days per week. Some people weren’t happy, but it didn’t affect their ability to take what they need. People aren’t able to do full time work out here, but as long as we have the subsistence resources available, we are still able to survive out of our own effort. But we have to be willing to make an effort to take it.
This is a heritage that we carry—that’s basically what I know. I am still alive literally, even though I have become physically weak, mentally I am still capable. That has been a gift to me, to serve the people.”—Joshua Cleveland, Respected Yup'ik Elder from Quinhagak, Alaska.
- © Brian Adams
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- I AM INUIT