Nunalleq: Climate change, indigenous community archaeology and the past in the Yup’ik present

Impact: Cultural

Description of impact

The Nunalleq Project, a partnership between the Native village of Quinhagak and researchers at the University of Aberdeen, is the first and only major project focused on understanding Yup’ik prehistory and precontact culture. Excavations at the unique but critically-threatened permafrost-preserved site have recovered approximately 100,000 artefacts, the majority now housed in a community-owned museum established and run by Quinhagak with support from Aberdeen. Research has enabled the preservation of cultural artefacts, illuminating the past and underpinning discussions about Yup’ik cultural heritage. The project incorporated an extensive programme of outreach and educational development, building skills within the community and changing the way Yup’ik children learn about their past. Aberdeen’s research has also inspired a variety of grass-roots cultural, educational and artistic activities, including an award-winning short-film and the formation of a youth dance group.

Outcomes to Date / Future Developments

Archaeology provides a unique link to past knowledge and traditions at an uncertain time for Arctic indigenous communities adjusting to the rapid effects of climate change. For descent groups, where respect for tradition and trust in ancestral wisdom runs deep, archaeology and particularly encounters with material culture has provided opportunities for engagement with the past and concomitant cultural identities. For the community at Quinhagak, and beyond, the impact of the research at Nunalleq has been wide ranging and profound.
Impact statusImpact Completed (Open)
Impact date20092023
Category of impactCultural


  • Cultural