The Yup'ik Country: Imperialism and the Invention of the Bering Strait

Saturday, January 6, 2018: 4:10 PM
Virginia Suite C (Marriott Wardman Park)
Simon Sun, Harvard University
The Yup’ik people are a part of the Eskimos and have been living across the Bering Strait for about 3000 years. With a boat transportation connecting the two sides and the islands in between, the Yup’ik people once had shared cultural, economic, and religious patterns. European imperialism, however, divided the Yup’ik Country. It first named the Bering Strait after a Danish explorer, then reinforced it with the 1867 Purchase of Alaska, and finalized it with the Cold War. Today, the Yup’ik people across the Bering Strait belong to different nations, speak different languages, believe in different varieties of Christianity, and have different ways of life. The invention of the Bering Strait, however, not only divided the Yup’ik Country, but also a continuous vast cultural area stretching from South Siberia to Tierra del Fuego, and has fundamentally distorted our understanding of global history. This paper tells the story of how the Yup'ik Country was divided and explores the potential of an integrated Native Siberiamerican history.
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