Kings of The Yukon

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Kings of the Yukon is a film and social impact project focused on the Yup’ik Eskimos who live on the Yukon River delta in western Alaska. For centuries, the Yup’ik have lived a subsistence lifestyle that mandates that you take what you need to survive from the environment, but only what you need. When the king salmon fishery collapsed on the Yukon, this delicate balance of subsistence was disrupted, setting off an economic crisis that is threatening the fabric of the Yup'ik Eskimo communities and the Yup’ik culture at large.

The Yup’ik have a very limited cash economy that comes solely in the form of their modest commercial fishery, the only purely Native owned and operated fishery left in Alaska. The economic cornerstone of this fishery was the Yukon king salmon. Prized for its nutrient density, it’s also the primary staple of the Yup’ik diet. For reasons still unknown, however widely studied, the king salmon has been in decline for the last fifteen years. This decline has occurred to such a degree that the state regulators put the fishery into conservation mode, which meant, as elder Bernadette Redfox puts it, “no more Kings for the people.”

Having the deep relationships with the Yup’ik families and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game has allowed the Kings of the Yukon film to show an intimate portrait of the past, present, and future of the Yup'ik people.

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