by Tad Lindley
Quick Yup’ik Lesson
Skip this section if you can already speak Yup’ik, otherwise, stay with me. Ellam is a one-syllable word that rhymes with “thumb”. To pronounce ellam you must realize that the e is silent. To make the ll sound put your tongue in the same position you would if you were getting ready to say “like”. Hold your tongue in that position, and instead of making the normal l sound, blow air out both sides of the tongue. Good. Now try it again.
To say the whole word, start with your tongue as described above. Then finish it up. The am in ellam sounds the same as the “umb” in “thumb”. Practice it out loud. Ellam. Ellam. Ellam. Ellam.
The second part of the term is Yua. For simplicity’s sake an English speaker could get by saying “yo” as in the word yo-yo. If you are saying ellam correctly, people will understand you.
The peopling of the planet
After the flood in the days of Noah there was one people with one language. They were staying close together in the Middle East. The Lord confused their language, and as a result people were split into tribes that spoke different languages. These tribes spread out over the entire earth. You can read the historical account of this in Genesis 11.
The people that eventually settled the country in Southwest Alaska developed their own distinct cultural practices. These were a combination of things handed down from the ancestors, and infusion of ever-changing ideas and directions that happens with all cultures.
The amazing truth about Ellam Yua
One truth that passed unchanged from some son of Noah to his descendants who would become the Yup’ik people was Ellam Yua. Ellam Yua in Yup’ik culture is “the person of the universe”, in other words, God. The people maintained this powerful truth, passing the knowledge of Ellam Yua from one generation to the next by word of mouth. The actual phrasing of the word for person is very interesting, because it conflicts with what much of modern Christianity teaches, but it does not conflict with the Bible.
Yua, not Yui; 1 not 3
Ellam means “of the universe”. Yua means “person”. Let’s focus on the word Yua. Yua is singular. There is no way it could mean more than one. If God was three persons, the word would have been Yui, Ellam Yui. This is exactly the same truth that God reinforced to Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4: Hear, O, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. It is fashionable, but not Biblical, to teach God as three persons (the number 3 is never, ever attached to God in the Bible, but the number 1 is attached to God over and over again, if you disagree with me, please read your Bible and see). The interesting thing is when missionaries came to Southwest Alaska, the Yup’ik people actually knew more than the missionaries did about the oneness of God!
Ellam Yua has a name
The proclamation of the Kingdom of God is that Ellam Yua has a name, and that that name is Jesus. Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). You see, by the time the Bible reached Southwest Alaska, the people already had a hold of the uncontestable fact that there is one God of the universe. They already understood the greatest commandment (Mark 12:29). The piece of the picture that was missing is the fact that Ellam Yua had come as a man about 2,000 years ago. That he had been manifest in the flesh (John 1:14, I Timothy 3:16). The “Person of the universe” is the same one who died on the cross to save us from death as the result of sin. All the fullness of the godhead dwelleth in him bodily, and ye are complete in him (Colossians 2:9). Ellam Yua has a name and His name is Jesus.
Reverend Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.