Joseph Senungetuk is of Inupiaq descent and was born in Wales, Alaska. He attended the local school in Wales until the age of 10 then moved to Nome with his parents and two older brothers. Joseph attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks for two years then went and taught art at Mt. Edgecumbe in Sitka. Later, he attended the San Francisco Arts Institute for three years where he ended up getting a job at a Native American publishing house. Joseph has also been an administrator at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, an art instructor at the Sheldon Jackson Junior College, and is/was a public member of the Alaska State Board of Nursing. Currently, Joseph is an Elder in residence at Alaska Pacific University for the university’s art program and works alongside his wife Martha.
Joseph has long expressed his thoughts and concerns through art and writing and like to use his platform to express his fellow Elders’ concerns however he can. In the mid-80s to late-90s he did this by being a columnist for the Anchorage Daily News. The Indian Historian Press published a book written by Joseph in 1971 titled Give or Take a Century: An Eskimo Chronicle which details his life as he lived it in Wales and Nome, Alaska.