by Peter Twitchell

It intrigues me that people of Bethel and most of them are outsiders who came to live there find displeasure with the name “Louse Town” referring to the area of Urucararmiut, the correct name given to our town of Bethel by the Yup’ik people who settled it long before there were only outsiders in the area.

And, what the outsiders referred to as Louse Town was called Aagurmiut, the Yup’ik name given to the area across Brown Slough by my ancestors. The derogatory name only came about after colonization began.

I’ve been hearing “Louse Town” since the late 1960s. Once in the 1970s I heard a conversation by a group of men using the term “the Louse Town Mafia”.

The name grew on us locals of the new name given by outsiders to the area of town we loved. If we were so offended, we would have done something about it long ago by the prominent local people who governed our community.

Louse Town was settled by 5 families, one of whom was my grandfather Aq’acuugaq. These 5 families moved across the river from a place they named Mamterilleq. Due to the abundance of blackfish – can’giiret – in the Brown Slough, they named it Pekenkuk, referred to by the outsiders as Brown Slough.

You see the intrigue in my amusement? And now they want to change the name of Lousetown?