Yup’ik and Inupiaq Spelling Bee Championships

Yup'ik Spelling Bee winners are 6th grader Maqaruaq Tieran Ignatius of Nunam Iqua, 5th grader Kaligtuq Natalie Mike of Stebbins, and 7th grader Nacuk Wynonna Camille of Nunam Iqua. photo by Ruth Dan

by Greg Lincoln

The ninth annual statewide Yup’ik spelling bee championship and the first annual statewide Iñupiaq spelling bee championship took place on Saturday, April 17th. The spelling bees were held at the Arctic Rec Center in Anchorage and were hosted by the Yup’ik Spelling Bee for Beginners.

This year schools competing in the Yup’ik language session are Wendler Middle School (Anchorage School District), Tukurngailnguq School (Bering Straits School District), and Nunam Iqua School (Lower Yukon School District).

The Iñupiaq language competition the spellers are from Brevig Mission School (Bering Straits School District).

“Yup’ik Spelling Bee for Beginners has been organizing and hosting the statewide Yup’ik language spelling bee for a decade, and this is the first year the Iñupiaq language spelling bee championship is taking place,” said Freda Dan, the Organizer for the events. “The Yup’ik Spelling Bee for Beginners organization is dedicated towards providing opportunities for our Alaska Native youth to improve their literacy and reading capabilities in their Indigenous languages.”

The 2019–2020 statewide spelling bee championships were canceled for COVID safety, and to ensure safety at this year’s event the spelling bees were closed to the public amongst other precautions.

The live broadcast of the event is available on Facebook Live at this link:


Congratulations to the winners and to the event for helping to support our Indigenous Languages and our Youth.

2020 / 2021 Yup’ik and Iñupiaq Spelling Bee for Beginners Statewide Spelling Bee Results

April 17, 2021

Yup’ik spelling division:

1st place:

Maqaruaq Tieran Ignatius

6th grade, Nunam Iqua

2nd place:

Nacuk Wynonna Camille

7th grade, Nunam Iqua

3rd place:

Kaligtuq Natalie Mike

5th grade, Stebbins

Iñupiaq spelling division:

1st place:

Kopeck Kaitlyn Alston

4th grade, Brevig Mission

2nd place:

Kimasuq Danielle Tocktoo

4th grade, Brevig Mission

3rd place:

Kinaviaq Kyla Fahey

4th grade, Brevig Mission