Where I’m from: Kwigillingok, Kenai


Where I’m From: Kwigillingok, AK – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Although it seems like an easy assignment, this was probably the most complicating one for me. I struggle trying to define myself and it’s tough because I feel like I’m repeating the same things I’ve already stated. I was born in Bethel hospital, and was raised in the village of Kwigillingok. Out of all the regions in Alaska, I feel the Yup’ik region has been fortunate to not have the natural substances that attracted the Americans. Others weren’t so lucky. Nome had the gold. Barrow region had the oil. Bristol Bay had the salmon. Other coastal regions had fur, whale, and other resources that attracted the Russians and the Americans and eventually took over the region. The only group of people that came were the Russian Orthodox and Moravian missionaries to build schools and churches into my region. My hometown Kwig was isolated, and there weren’t that many things to do. Hunting, fishing, and picking berries were necessary in order to put food on the table. If Eskimo ice cream wasn’t made, some families used fried bread as a substitution for dessert. When there weren’t much subsistence activities going on, many youth played basketball at the ball court during the summer. The main transportation to Bethel or other villages was a small 7-seater plane, although many caravans have been introduced in the last few years. There are no roads to use automobiles there, but there are roads made of wood for bicycles and ATVs.

After spending much of my life in Kwigillingok, I decided to move to Kenai/Soldotna to attend college. About halfway through college, I got married to a girl from above the Arctic Circle who went to college there as well. We have lived there basically for the past 11 years. We now have two kids and we love taking them out to the beach. I have worked as a longshoreman for the past two years, and I typically tried to take time off during the dip-netting season. Our plan now is to move back to the village and teach.

10 thoughts on “Where I’m from: Kwigillingok, Kenai”

  1. Jimmy,

    This was really informative and interesting! Lots of good information being shared there. Thanks for sharing.

    Joe

  2. Jimmy,

    I never been to those regions of Alaska that you described. It was easy to envision your home through your eyes. Thank you.

    Ioana

  3. Jimmy,

    Thank you for sharing about your life! The pictures you chose to support your narrative brought the story to life. The outdoor basketball court right on top of the water is pretty awesome! What happens when the ball falls in the water?

    LB

  4. I liked the dichotomy between the village life and Kenai; going to Walmart for sustenance versus nature’s Walmart for berries and sea life.

  5. Jimmy- I really liked the contrast that you showed though imagery between your life in Kwig compared with Kenai. The many comparisons that you make, even in your description tell a strong story of the region. The discussion of natural resources in the YK also helped me as a student learn more about why urban development happened in some places compared with others.

    1. So true, Electra. Jimmy’s comment is filled with irony “I feel the Yup’ik region has been fortunate to not have the natural substances that attracted the Americans. “

  6. Jimmy, thanks for sharing. The assignment was only the Haiku presentation, but your words and ‘introduction’ to you just made it that much deeper. I love the contrast of your worlds. I feel like your story rings true to so many other Alaskans– and that you through medians like this have so much to offer.

  7. Jimmy – that Walrus picture is great. What a lucky bunch of guys (though I’m sure the whole village shared it). As for the rest, I really appreciate you pointing out how resources create destiny (in part at least) and particularly since the Industrial Revolution and the United States started sweeping east to west across this continent.
    Also the village boardwalk is great. I’d love to get out to the Y-K one day (the closest I’ve been is Togiak in Bristol Bay).
    Finally, dipnetting the Kenai is like a Mad Max movie. I moved down to the Kasilof years ago where it is slightly less insane (though the sockeye are a bit smaller).

    Cheers.

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