Bertha Moses

Bertha Moses,
Transcript Section 16

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BERTHA:  I remember one time when we were living in Fairbanks, someone asked me what kind of snack do we have when I was growing up.  And that first time I ever thought about snack. 

We didn't have no snack food like our kids do today.  We don't know about chips, we don't know about pop, we know candy but we can't afford to buy candy.  We know gum but we can't afford to buy that. 

We used to chew spruce gum.  We used to chew spruce gum and -- and it's healthy for our -- healthy for our teeth, they always say.  They are not like soft on those, they are just stiff after a little while. 

And then when we were fishing at one place and after they find enough fish, first they cut the fish, they dry them, then after that they start -- like in September when it's cold out, we start putting it away in some kind of box they make out of logs. 

It is like a little cabin, they pile all their fish there, and they cover it, and it keep air, but mice or anything can't go in there.  And we just leave it there and it will freeze for dog food. 

Then after they do that, then we start down to the village.  We start closing down, row, and fish. 

Every once in awhile when we were going along and our oldest sister and brother would seine, that means we all would have to get off and then they seine. 

In the meantime, I would run to shore or run up the bank, look around, we would find roots and we had one pick, little pick.  Not animal pick, but it's a pick to pick the ground.  And we start with sticks. 

We used to fight over that pick, too.  But not too much.  Sometimes we share it really good.  And we pick roots, and it's too cold to walk it, so we all get in boat again and we eat the roots. 

Muddy.  We have pretty parka over our clothes so we just wipe them and wiped the mud off on our parka.  Always I still know how mud tastes.
 
Sometimes when we land, there's berries, rose hips, or high bush cranberries or low bush cranberries or blueberries, we eat those, too, on every stop. 

And after a while we eat too much from the ground and we -- then our mom would build a fire and then we would eat raw fish eggs, little ones.
 
And our mom would make fire and cook some whitefish, you boil it, and we eat our fish, and we drink the broth and eating that and get in the boat again. 

And warm, even though it's ice, it's warm, we huddled together.  Our oldest sister and brother rowed the boat and our mom would paddle. 

And our dad would be working the barge earning money to buy food and we don't see him all summer. 

That's our snack was from the ground.  And when we get done -- when we come to the village, we have to camp about two or three times.  That means we've traveled about three or four days.  And our dogs run on the shore.  They follow us from the shore. 

And then we finally get to our house across Alatna.  We had a big log cabin.  It was built high, too. 

Nobody smoke in our house, too.  I think that's one reason why we survived with didn't get TB, no one smoked in our house.  There was no smoke.  Only when grampa come he smoked, but not steady.  He just smoked pipe. 

And not smoking and having a good diet, I think that's how we survived that.  Eight of us grow to be old age out of ten.  There's -- now there's six of us living.  All old, too.  Old age people.  The young people's 65. 

MARLA:  I think you're probably right.