Introduction / History The Naukan Yupik are an Eskimo people who live in northeast Siberia along the Bering Sea. They make their living by fishing salmon and harvesting sea mammals like seals, walruses and whales. There is archeological evidence that shows that they have lived this way for thousands of years. Slowly the modern world is changing the Naukan Yupik's lives. Snowmobiles are replacing dogsleds and their cone shaped tents are giving way to modern homes with electricity and diesel oil. High-powered rifles are used to hunt animals rather than spears and harpoons.
Russian is becoming the primary language of the Naukan Yupik. The Naukan Yupik language is seriously endangered. There are only about 70 living speakers, all over 40 years old. Unless drastic measures are taken, in a few years the Naukan Yupik language will become another one of the dead languages of Siberia.
Where are they located? The Naukan Yupik live in the Russian Far East along the Bering Sea.
What are their lives like? The Naukan Yupik still live a semi-nomadic lifestyle following the salmon and sea mammals. Some of them who do not live on the immediate coast raise caribou. These Yupik migrate along with their caribou herds. Most of the Yupik's diet consists of meat, blubber, fish and whatever berries and edible plants they can gather during Siberia's short summers. They are also now able to trade their surplus of salmon and animal skins for necessities like canned goods, electricity and diesel oil for heating their homes in the long, very cold winters.
Village elders make the important decisions and for the people. Most Yupik consult a shaman before seeking out modern medical help.
What are their beliefs? Most of the Yupik cling to their ancient folk religion. Good and evil spirits inhabit all aspects of nature. The Yupik pray and make an offering to the sea before taking any seals, walruses and whales. Parts of the animals are returned to the sea so that the animals taken by them will be replaced.
The Yupik have the interesting custom of naming a baby for the last person to die in the village. They believe the dead person's spirit is reincarnated in the baby.
There is a small group of Russian Orthodox and Protestant believers among the Yupik.
What are their needs? The Yupik need to hear a clear presentation of the gospel and what it means to serve God. The Yupik would benefit by medical and educational workers coming to their villages. Linguists could study and help preserve the disappearing Kaukan Yupik language.
Prayer Points Pray that the small number of Yupik believers would live lives dedicated to the Lord and walk in His ways.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to give the Yupik people love for God's Word and a desire to spread its influence.
Pray for workers needed to sow God's Word into Yupik families, healing and strengthening households with God's blessings.