What is an Uqaluktuaqti?

Uqaluktuaqti: n. storyteller

The Inupiaq oral tradition has three categories of stories1:

  1. Unipchaaq: legend,‘myth,’
  2. Quliaqtuaq: testimony, story of one’s life experience
  3. Uqaluktuaq: historical account of events which happened over the past two or three generations

I am an Iñupiaq person, an Iñupiaq proficient speaker, and an Iñupiaq teacher. So, of course, when I was choosing the domain for this site, I was very excited at the thought of using an Iñupiaq word. And luckily, the domain I chose was available, and I moved forward. However, immediately after purchasing the domain, I realized that most people wouldn’t be able to pronounce this word. So feel free to listen to the audio for guidance.

The -ti in uqaluktuaqti is a post base (aka suffix) that means “one who habitually [verbs]” or “one’s who’s job it is to [verb].” Therefore, an ‘uqaluktuaqti’ is ‘one who habitually tells historical accounts,’ or ‘one whose job it is to tell historical accounts.’ However, the dictionary I was using simply defines it as “storyteller.” Since I don’t chiefly tell historical accounts, I will go with the latter definition.

I consider myself a storyteller, although I have a small audience and haven’t often shared my work. I do have an MFA in creative writing and have made it a goal to share more of my thoughts and works with a larger audience. I am hoping to use this site as a platform for blogs about Iñupiaq stories, language, native dance, and any other ramblings that cross my brain


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  1. These words are from the Kobuk River dialect.

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