Yup'ik culture and context in Southwest Alaska: community member perspectives of tradition, social change, and prevention

Am J Community Psychol. 2014 Sep;54(1-2):91-9. doi: 10.1007/s10464-014-9652-4.

Abstract

This paper provides an introduction to key aspects of Yup'ik Inuit culture and context from both historical and contemporary community member perspectives. Its purpose is to provide a framework for understanding the development and implementation of a prevention initiative centered on youth in two communities in Southwest Alaska as part of collaboration with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the National Institutes of Health. This paper is written from the perspective of elders and local prevention workers from each of the two prevention communities. The co-authors discuss their culture and their community from their own perspectives, drawing from direct experience and from ancestral knowledge gained through learning and living the Yuuyaraq or the Yup'ik way of life. The authors of this paper identity key aspects of traditional Yup'ik culture that once contributed to the adaptability and survivability of their ancestors, particularly through times of hardship and social disruption. These key processes and practices represent dimensions of culture in a Yup'ik context that contribute to personal and collective growth, protection and wellbeing. Intervention development in Yup'ik communities requires bridging historical cultural frames with contemporary contexts and shifting focus from reviving cultural activities to repairing and revitalizing cultural systems that structure community.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Humans
  • Inuits / ethnology*
  • Inuits / psychology
  • Preventive Medicine*
  • Social Change*
  • Suicide / prevention & control