Nunakun-gguq Ciutengqertut

They Say They Have Ears Through the Ground

Nunakun-gguq Ciutengqertut – They Say They Have Ears Through the Ground is a book of animal essays from Southwest Alaska by Ann Fienup-Riordan with Alice Rearden, Marie Meade, David Chanar, Rebecca Nayamin, and Corey Joseph.

The Yup’ik people of Southwest Alaska believe that animals can feel and know. Animals, they say, have ears through the ground: how animals treat people depends on how people treat them.

The Yup’ik people believe that all animals, even tiny insects, possess minds. Animals are not viewed as resources but as co-inhabitants of a sentient world and as nonhuman persons responsive to thoughts, words, and deeds.

These essays—based on information shared over twenty years at community meetings, regional gatherings, and discussions with elders—focus on some of the most important species (including moose, bears, seals, salmon, and birds) and how relations with these species have both changed and remained the same over the past two decades.

In a place where hunting and fishing are still part of day-to-day life, these views of animals remain very much in action. Hunters are advised that if they are over-confident and brag, they will not catch; animals will hear them and they will get nothing. Conversely, what one gives away will be replaced. And if you are compassionate, others will wish for your future success.

Ann Fienup-Riordan is an anthropologist who has lived and worked in Alaska for more than forty years. She has written and edited more than twenty books on Yup’ik history and oral traditions. This book is available for purchase at the University of Alaska Press at this link: