Storytelling has always been a part of Kiliii Yüyan’s life. As a young Chinese-American, his earliest stories came from his Nanai grandmother — stories of hunters riding orcas and roaming the seas. Today, a kayak builder, Nia Tero Storytelling Fellow, National Geographic photographer, and sought-after speaker, Yüyan explores the “human relationship to the natural world,” often through stories of polar regions and Indigenous communities.
Yüyan is a Pulitzer Center grantee and one of PDN’s 30 Emerging Photographers. On assignment, he has “fled collapsing sea ice, weathered botulism from fermented whale blood, and found kinship at the edges of the world.”
This episode has been edited and condensed for clarity. Part 2 of Kiliii’s story comes tomorrow. Photo provided by Kiliii Yüyan.