Home    Number 5, 2021

Ethnobotanical Knowledge of an Eskimo Family: Naukan Yupik People

[Etnobotanicheskoe znanie odnoi eskimosskoi sem’i: naukanskie yupiki]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150017412-3

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 21.03.2021

Accepted: 26.07.2021

About author(s)

Valeria Kolosova | http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3129-1894 | chakra@eu.spb.ru | Institute for Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences (9 Tuchkov pereulok, St. Petersburg, 199053, Russia)

Kevin Jernigan | http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8711-1082 | kjernigan@alaska.edu | University of Alaska Fairbanks (505 N Chandalar Dr, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA)

Olga Belichenko | https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8988-2051 | obelichenko@eu.spb.ru | Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Via Torino 155, 30172, Mestre, Venezia, Italy)


Post-Soviet ethnobotany, ethnomedicine, traditional ecological knowledge, wild edibles, medicinal plants, Chukotka, Naukan Yupik, family knowledge


This article analyzes the Naukan Yupik ethnobotanical knowledge, i.e. the use of plants as food, medicine, household or ritual objects, on the example of one family. Their resettlement from Cape Dezhnev to other settlements led to significant changes in their culture and language proficiency. Fieldwork was carried out in summer 2014 in the village of Uelen, Chukotka, using the methods of structured interviews and participant observation. Informants named 26 species belonging to 18 families; these species gave a total of 170 plant uses. Within one family, there is a sharp decline in the knowledge of the Naukan phytonyms, as well as the repertoire of plants used from older generations to younger ones. The disappearing knowledge includes the collection of plant roots harvested by tundra voles. However, aerial parts of plants, berries, and algae remain popular. The variety of methods for preparing plants is increasing, including due to contact with the Russian-speaking population and access to new technologies.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the following institutions and grants:
National Science Foundation, https://doi.org/10.13039/100000001 [grant number 1304612]


Kolosova, V.B., K.A. Jernigan, and O.S. Belichenko. 2021. Ethnobotanical Knowledge of an Eskimo Family: Naukan Yupiks [Etnobotanicheskoe znanie odnoi eskimosskoi sem’i: naukanskie yupiki]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 5: 17–32. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150017412-3

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