Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa)

This is the first in a new category of games — games which draw fully upon the richness of unique cultures to create complex and fascinating game worlds.

Upper One Games paired world class game developers with Alaska Native storytellers and elders to create Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa), a game based on stories that have been handed down for thousands of years. A game which delves deeply into the traditional lore of the Iñupiat people to present an experience like no other. An atmospheric puzzle platformer of wondrous adventure.

A game of survival in a place where survival shouldn’t be possible. A game that opens a gateway to explore what it means to be human. Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa) will be in Iñupiaq with English subtitles.

Upper One Games, LLC is the first indigenous- owned video game developer and publisher in the U.S.

Launched by Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) in Anchorage, Alaska,  Upper One Games operates through a collaborative partnership between CITC and its publishing and development partner, E-Line Media of New York.

A team of Alaska Native storytellers, artists, community members and top game developers assembled to create the company’s initial game aimed at the consumer market, Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa), which is scheduled for release in fall, 2014.

Upper One Games invites gamers to discover the unique and enduring cultural legacy of the Alaska Native people through gameplay that highlights the importance of interdependence, resilience, respect and accountability. //


In honor of #RockYourMocs, here’s a roundup of some of our favorite places to get authentic Native-made mocs! From top to bottom, left to right: Lisa Shepherd (Métis), Jenny Sanford (Athabascan)Mary A. Sallee (Inupiat)Inuit Women’s CollectiveArctic Canada Trading CoTlicho, Edna Nabess (Cree), Manitobah Mukluks, Northern Lights Mukluks (Cree)

From Wikipedia Picture Of The Day; October 11, 2014:

A family portrait of an Inupiat mother, father, and son, photographed in Noatak, Alaska, by Edward S. Curtis circa 1929. The Inupiat are an Alaska Native people whose traditional territory spans from the Norton Sound on the Bering Sea to the Canadian border. At the time this picture was taken, most were living in coastal areas, having migrated there during a period of starvation and an influenza epidemic.

Photograph: Edward S. Curtis;
restoration: Keraunoscopia

Anonymous said: Do you know of any reputable lists of Alaskan Native names? Preferrably Inupiat or Yupik, but other nations would be helpful too.

If anyone would like to be a resource for this anon on Inupiat or Yupik names, please respond to this post.

Thank you!


A FRIENDLY REMINDER: Please do not send us messages responding to this post. We cannot privately pass them along to the anon for obvious reasons. It is better to cut out the middle man and just reply to this post. 


Inhabitants of Kotzebue Sound, Labrets

"At the present day [1880s, among the Inupiat of northern Alaska] the lip is always pierced for two labrets, one at each corner of the mouth, though one or both of them are frequently left out. They told us, however, that in ancient times a single labret only was worn; for which the lip was pierced directly in the middle. Certain old and large-sized labrets in the collection are said to have been thus worn. The incisions for the labrets appear to be made about the age of puberty, though I knew one young man who had been married for some months before he had the operation performed. … I did not see a single man above the age of 18 or 19 who did not wear the labrets. It seems hardly probably that ability to take a seal entitles a boy to wear labrets. …

The incisions are at first only large enough to admit a flat-headed pin of walrus ivory, about the diameter of a crow quill, worn with the head resting against the gum. These are soon replaced by a slightly stouter pair, and these again by stouter ones, until the holes are stretched to a diameter of about one-half inch, when they are ready for the labrets… The incisions must be made with a little lancet of slate” (Murdoch 1892:143).

Sikoruk Archaeological Collection – The museum’s archaeology department recently housed a new archaeological collection from the Sikoruk site located in the Brooks Range. Excavated in the 60’s and 70’s by Edwin Hall Jr., this assemblage has mostly remained in storage until now.

Hall conducted many significant surveys and excavations in Northern Alaska and was first made aware of Sikoruk in 1965, when a geologist who had worked in the area reported recognizable house pits. Hall confirmed the location during a survey in 1967 and conducted extensive excavations the following years, thanks to support from the National Science Foundation.

In May 2014, the collections were relocated from New York to Alaska, thanks to the efforts of Robin Mills at the Bureau of Land Management, as well as archaeologists Margaret Blackman, Robert Gal, and Richard Stern.

The Sikoruk site is located on the northern shore of Tukuto Lake in the Central Brooks Range. The site contains more than 100 house pits and over 350 cache pits representing occupation between 1450 A.D. and 1800 A.D. The collection shows a wide variety of materials and activities from the Late Prehistoric to early historic Inupiaq traditions. Artifacts include handled knives with blades made from slate and metal, numerous butchered caribou bones, chipped-stone projectile points, polished jade adze heads, engraved ivory projectile points, fishing gear (such as ivory jigs), and decorative pieces like the wrist guard shown in the figure above.

While many artifacts are the byproducts of tool manufacturing — fragments of stone, wood, antler, or ivory — others showcase a richness of the material culture in northern Alaska during this time period. Wood and stone labret plugs found at Sikoruk were worn as jewelry and used to indicate a person’s status. Decorated artifacts also demonstrate individuality, such as the scraping tool shown below.

Although the site rests in the northern foothills of the Brooks Range, artifacts made from coastal materials such as sea mammal bone, walrus ivory and baleen show the mobility of the inhabitants. Tukuto Lake is also located near known historic trade routes where items, like the beads and rifle cartridges found at the site, were exchanged.

Before any of the artifacts from Sikoruk could be integrated with the other archaeological collections at the museum, archaeologists first needed to “rehouse” them. This process focuses on ensuring long-term preservation of materials. Thin ivory pieces are wrapped in tissue paper or foam, or boxed to prevent them from breaking. Degraded leather pieces are cleaned of any acidic materials, things like tape or paper that would break down the organic artifact over time. Museum specialists use acid-free archival materials to house each artifact, whether it is a fragment of wood or a delicately carved and polished piece of ivory, like the prong shown below.

The artifacts from Sikoruk represent a small portion of the Ed Hall collections at  UAMN. Boxes opened just recently contain photographs, maps, and field journals for sites on Pingok Island, Feniak Lake, and along the Noatak River. Many digital copies of reports and analyses not previously known about were found on floppy disks, while boxes from Feniak Lake still remain unopened.  

The museum’s housing project was completed by archaeology collections assistant Allie Little, under the direction of curator Josh Reuther and collection manager Scott Shirar. She was assisted by current UAF student Chelsea Winter and former UAF student Evelyn Combs

As the Archaeology Department continues to work with the collections, more of these exciting artifacts will be available for research, teaching, and exhibit. The museum’s work continues through the support of the Bureau of Land Management.

— Story by Allie Little, UAMN archaeology collections assistant (MA, UAF 2013)

The word Inuvialuit means “The Real People”. In the words of the Inuvialuit, “Long, long ago, we used it to distinguish ourselves from the other people around us such as the Inupiat (Alaskan Inuit), the Qangmalit (Eastern Inuit), and the Itqilit [”Indians”]. The Inuvialuit have occupied the coastal area along the western Arctic for as long as they can remember.”
—  Northwest Territories Education 1991

Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) is the first game developed in collaboration with the Iñupiat, an Alaska Native people. Nearly 40 Alaska Native elders, storytellers and community members contributed to the development of the game. Play as a young Iñupiat girl and an arctic fox as they set out to find the source of the eternal blizzard which threatens the survival of everything they have ever known.