The Unangan Way
The Unangan Way
A conversation with Ilarion 'Kuuyux' Merculieff
Our advisor Ilarion 'Kuuyux' Merculieff is an Unangan (Aleut) elder who was raised in a traditional manner on his ancestral island, St. Paul, part of the Pribiloff Islands, a 5 by 12 mile island hundreds of miles into the Bering Sea, that, when he was a boy, was home to 1.2 million Norther Fur Seals, 2.5 million sea birds, 1000 reindeer, and 450 Unangan people. He received his name, Kuuyux, at 4 years of age, from the last surviving Kuuyux in his tribe. He was mentored by an 'acha' in the Unangan traditional lifeways from the age of 5 until 13, during which time he says his mentor said less then 200 words to him. Kuuyux means an arm extending from the body: a translator of ancient wisdom into modern times. The Unangan people can trace their ancestry back more than 10,000 years. Their civilization created the most densely populated linear mile of shoreline in North America, in the middle of the Bering Sea. Unangan people did not traditionally wear shoes. Their anthropometric kayaks were so sophisticated that they traveled to the southernmost tip of South America.
When he reached 30 years old, Kuuyux spoke to the elders, and they decided he would move out into the world to share teachings. Since that time almost 40 years ago, he has been receiving, convening, and sharing the wisdom of indigenous elders around the world. He is the President of the Global Center for Indigenous Leadership & Lifeways, and the convener of Wisdom Weavers of the World, a network of 13 indigenous elders from all the directions who assembled in Kauai in 2017 to create a message for humanity. A film of that gathering is on this website, called Indigenous Voices.
In this conversation, originally recorded for the Global Resilience Summit, Gabriel and Ilarion talk about language, the relationship between ancestral awareness of the heart and modern neurophysiology (Gabriel introduced Ilarion and Dr. Stephen Porges into conversation), the indigenous perspective on the pandemic, and the quest to become a real human being.
NB: In the background video above, note the footwear of the man in the canoe.
Video: | Photography: | Licensed from Pexels.com, used with permission.