Albertina Cingyukan Dull, Leader from the Region
Yuuluaqerluni Yuuyaraq meaning “to Live a Meaningful Life”
Storyknife, September/October 2023 edition
Albertina Cingyukan Dull from Nightmute is expected to turn 105 years old this year. Her birthday is recorded as October 10, 1918 but her birthdate was never known. When she married, this date was selected because she was born in the fall before a winter when people experienced a shortage of food and cangerlagpak (the “flu pandemic” in Yup’ik). Her extended family lived in Qungurmiut (a past winter village near Nightmute) on Qaluyaat, or “Nelson Island” in Yup’ik, in her younger days.
Cingyukan (JIN-yuu-gahn) has lived a relatively long and meaningful life. Yuuluaqerluni Yuuyaraq [Yuu LUAH-keh-LOO-nee YUU-yah-uk] is a Yup’ik phrase meaning “to Live a Meaningful Life.”
Cingyukan says the key to Yuuluaqerluni Yuuyaraq is to live life without much illness and chaos. Like most people, she experienced colds and flu that comes with body aches, but that did not stop her from doing things unless they were severe. In the past, she was worked on by a shaman at a young age for broken ribs, but other than that, she does not remember anything that gave her physical hardship.
Cingyukan’s diet has consisted of subsistence foods caught and gathered around Qaluyaat all her life—without much added. Food she eats include sea mammals and saltwater fish caught in the Bering Sea, as well as the fish in the rivers, and the berries and greens gathered from the land. She hardly ever eats food bought from the store and easily gets tired of restaurant food when traveling. Additionally, Cingyukan does not eat large portions of food, does not snack between meals and in the evening, does not drink much water, and does not use tobacco or drink alcohol.
When asked what has been consistent in her life and how she is able to live a long life, Cingyukan has a few main activities that come to mind. She’s learned how to take care of food that was caught or harvested, she’s learned how to make clothing and other things needed by her and her family, and she is an active participant in events and cultural activities in the community and the area. This summer she even went to summer camp in Umkumiute once again with the help of her family. She thought she was never going to be able to do that again.
For a long and healthy life, Cingyukan tells people about the teachings of our “Yup’ik way of being” known as Yuuyaraq. She was told as a young girl that those who listen to their parents and live a good life will live a long life.
“She keeps a very positive attitude, loves to laugh, likes the company of people and has been active all her life,” says Ruth Jimmie, Cingyukan’s niece. “Her mind is still very sharp, and I use her as a Yup’ik dictionary and encyclopedia for any questions I have.” Ruth says Cingyukan often brings up that she will scold her children and other family members if she hears that they are not doing what is right.
We could all learn from her self-care and the good life she lives. Cingyukan is a wonderful human being loved by her family and those that have been fortunate to get to know her. She loves to tell stories and share her knowledge of our culture whenever she is given the opportunity.
Calista Education & Culture, Inc. (CECI) highlights Yuuyaraq, the traditional/cultural way of being in our Region. This Yup’ik Teaching Moment is provided from an interview conducted by Mark John, CECI Cultural Advisor with Albertina Cingyukan Dull of Nightmute.