Where is Nunivak Island? 

Nunivak Island is off the southwest coast of Alaska. It is the second largest island in the Bering Sea, lying approximately 30 miles offshore between the Yukon and the Kuskokwim delta. It occupies 1,625 sq. miles making it the 7th largest Island in Alaska, the 8th largest island in the United States, and 133rd largest island in the world. 

Nunivak Island is volcanic in origin and is covered by barren tundra. River edges grow dwarf willows with an average size of about 4 feet. Reindeer and musk oxen, in addition to red and white (Arctic) foxes, are the largest animal inhabitants. Small rodents such as weasels, lemmings, shrews, and some mink also live on the island. 

The Cup’ig Eskimos once inhabited the entire island, but today there is only one village remaining: Mekoryuk (or Mikuryarmiut in Cugtun); it is located on the northern coast of Nunivak Island with a population of about 200. 

About Cup'ig Culture 

By Muriel Amos 

The Cup’it speak a distinct language that is a sub-dialect of Central Alaska Yup’ik language and is the only dialect of its kind in the universe. A Cup’ig dictionary was published in 2003. Many English primary books have been translated into the Cup’ig language and are used by the Cup’ig Immersion class. Presently, pre-recorded traditional stories are being written and will be published in the future and be used by the Cup’ig Bilingual class. 

The Cup’ig people of Nunivak Island have thrived on subsistence hunting and fishing for many generations. Today, its people still practice survival skills and will continue to thrive as long as people desire their native foods. People are artistic; their crafts include traditional wooden masks, grass baskets and ivory carving. In current times, the musk ox wool, known locally as “qiviut”, is knitted into beautiful scarves, hats, gloves and sweaters. 

Village Climate

The climate on Nunivak Island is moderate for Alaska temperatures. The summer climate ranges from about 30 degrees F to about 60 degrees F. Winter readings generally range from below 0 to near 30 degrees F. Snow usually starts falling around mid-October and It usually doesn’t stop till May. 
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