Nunalleq is a pre-contact Yup'ik village (1350–1660 CE) massacred during a centuries-long conflict known today as the Bow and Arrow Wars. As global temperatures fell during the Little Ice Age (1300–1800 CE), conflict intensified along the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta as food raids and village burnings became commonplace among warring Yup'ik communities. The following essay considers the events of Nunalleq alongside a new era of migration as Yup'ik prepare to move farther inland in response to human-induced climate change. Specifically, I reflect on the relationships between Yup'ik material culture and oral history, and how these histories adapt over time. This writing is an experimental ethnography based in archaeological excavation and participant observation. This writing is oral history. This writing should be read aloud.
I can't tell my history without taking you to the Ohio town where I grew up. It's a military town, and this essay revolves around a particular military custom known as a tattoo. Here, the location (a military base) and activity (a celebration of military strength) combine in an American performance of freedom that is implicitly backed by threats of violence. In this way, a small-town celebration on the 4th of July suggests that to live in post-9/11 America is to inhabit a place of tumult, fear, and boredom.