Before Bristol Bay Book - Page 22

10 | Igyaraq ( Igiugig ), Alaska .
Iilgayaq – Nushagak The original meaning for the Yup’ik word Iilgayaq (Nushagak) is unknown, yet we know much about this old village and river area. Everyone could identify the location on the map, but no one could explain the meaning of the name. After talking and listening at a Koliganek meeting in 1996, Anuska Petla began remembering a story about a warrior. Long ago during the time of the war, one enormous man and his wife lived near a small river. All fall his wife was working. Her husband asked, “What are you working on?” She replied, “I’m working on our escape route.” One day while she was cooking in the house, she saw a shadow of a person peeking in the window. Casually, without any sudden moves, she lifted her cooking and put it aside. She told her husband, “The warriors have already surrounded us.” The husband jumped into the dugout his wife had been working on and came up on the other side of the river. After he had escaped, he called out to his opponents, “Ak’a pikna eneka tevaqa!” (I already portaged thru my house!) He escaped, and it was impossible to catch him. Then his wife followed him. 20 | After telling this story, one person mentioned that the root word of Iilgayaq, iiq means “to hide.” Others agreed and mentioned that in the war stories the warriors might have come to this area to hide. This warrior story is also known through dance. Though we do not know exactly the history and meaning of Iilgayaq, through group remembrance and dance, we are able to know something of this place and its meaning within our history. Iilgayaq (Nushagak), Alaska. | 21