Photo by Bill Burke
Howard Luke was born downriver beyond Nenana, at Linder Lake in 1923. His mother would teach him at night with stories and how to take care of your luck, "gallee'ya". Howard moved with his mother and rest of the family to Fairbanks in 1936. He began dog training and racing in the 1940s. His first North American dog race was in Fairbanks in 1947. He came in 2nd place in the 1947 race. Howard also raced boats, winning the 1965 Yukon 800. Howard dedicated the Gallee'ya Spirit Camp, located on his land, to his mother. The camp is a place where Howard can work with people who have trouble with alcohol, work with children who want to learn about making things like sleds, traps, and learn about herbs and medicine. Howard believes that his respect for elders is the basis of his success and is the message he wants to impart to the rest of us.
Information courtesy of Howard's book, "Howard Luke: My Own Trail" edited by Jan Steinbright Jackson.
Click on a section below to hear audio.
Howard Luke talks to Bill Schneider on January 26, 1982 at his camp on the Tanana River about Fairbanks history.
1) Family Background.
Nenana -- birth/ moving -- 1937/ Alford, Laura -- schoolteacher/ Charlie, Sam/ David, Lawrence/ houses -- burnt down/ Luke, Stephen -- brother/ family -- reason why they moved here/ Nenana -- tough living/ furs -- scarce/ moose -- scarce/ meat -- jerk/ moose -- finding|
2) Food storage and coming to Fairbanks.
meat -- preserving/ holes -- digging/ fish heads/ birch bark/ fox farm/ mink ranch/ work -- searching for/ Charlie, Sam/ homestead -- how they got it/ Dad/ Seward/ groceries|
3) Names of old places.
wood -- cutting/ camping/ Native people/ villages/ Tananacross/ Charlie, Sam/ Chena/ grave yard -- across the river/ Chena old town -- where Fairbanks used to be/ blacksmith shops/ boats/ sawmills/ mining town -- old/ fish -- selling|
4) Changes in food and money prices.
fish -- dry/ fish/ corn meal/ rice/ Mike the Fisherman/ fur -- buying/ groceries -- trade for fur/ home brew/ nieces/ nephews/ camps/ roadhouses/ Haderly, Norman/ Hadey Island/ fox farm|
5) Howard talks about various people and places.
houses -- every 5 to 10 miles/ Native camp/ Wood River/ Thomas, Henry/ Thomas, Daniel/ James, John/ Wood River -- mouth/ graveyard/ Wood River -- below/ fishcamp/ Silas, John/ Nenana -- 6 miles above/ Clifford rocks/ hill -- as you go by it you cry|
6) People and places continued and helping people.
fox farm/ summer camp/ Mike the Fisherman/ Norman -- Canadian/ boat race/ dog race/ king salmon/ potlatches/ helping people/ Fort Yukon|
7) Places upriver.
outboard motors/ travel time/ mining camp/ dogs/ Main, Charlie/ Pioneer Hotel/ beaver -- skins/ mother/ Fairbanks -- trip to by boat/ hotel -- where USO is now/ Nenana/ groceries/ Hextrim, Carl/ fish/ quotas|
fish market/ fish -- selling/ house -- brother/ brother -- older one/ Nancy -- brother's wife/ parents -- moved to Fairbanks/ steamboat/ wood -- pick up/ roadhouses/ wood -- cutting|
9) Steamboat captains and pilots.
jobs -- in town/ Captain Adams/ pilots -- local people/ Judas pilot/ Chena/ boats -- small/ Fairbanks -- coming to/ jobs -- odd/ Mrs. Ford/ library/ Sherman, Ernie|
10) Mrs. Ford.
places -- owned by Mrs. Ford/ 16th street/ cats/ Tanana Chief Conference|
11) People Howard knew.
African American gentleman/ Nenana/ dog/ Chatanika/ dog racing/ Peerless restaurant/ Kelly/ Chena Hot Springs road/ Monte Carlo/ bunkhouse/ meals -- 75 cents|
12) People Howard knew continued.
African American gentleman/ Monte Carlo/ Ming, Charlie/ sinews/ bootleg/ Skincrist, Martin/ Flips, Charlie -- owned the Tamale place/ 5th street/ Kitty taxi/ Young, Frank/ Sholls, Ira|
13) Mail trails and dog racing.
dogteams/ Nenana/ Gold King/ Shake, Charlie/ Cooney, Mike/ dogs/ skiis/ Fagen, Kerry/ dogs -- trying them out/ riding/ leader/ racing/ Peterson, Tom/ North American -- won in 1947/ Kokrine, Andy/ competition|
14) Dog Mushers.
Carroll, Tom/ Fort Yukon/ Butler, Jake/ Kokrine, Andy/ Titus, Charlie/ Paul, Herman -- the Ironman/ racing -- all four days/ Howard -- sick/ doctor/ dog handler/ Fur Rondevous -- 1952|
15) Dog racing and being ill at a race.
running/ Curry, Toll/ Dimitiv, Nick/ Pfieffer, Dave/ pneumonia/ tuberculosis/ hospital|
16) Names of places and the ragdoll story.
Novy -- behind Ruby, across the Tanana/ Johnson, Terry/ trapping/ fox/ Otis -- stepdad's dad/ Chief Thomas/ story -- ragdoll/ medicine man -- strong|
17) Learning from mom, interaction between man and animals.
dad -- never built/ mom -- teacher to Howard/ sled -- building/ moose -- skinning/ hunting/ oldtimers -- listening to them/ Albert, Dick/ Thomas, Henry/ moving around|
18) Gold Miners and the Church.
parents -- traded with the goldminers/ snowshoes/ mother -- sewed/ moose -- tanned/ church/ respect/ preachers/ nurses/ Cruishank, Moses/ Titus, Robert/ Titus, Matthew/ Nenana Mission|
19) Preachers and Commercial fishing.
Cruishank, Moses/ Bishop Rowe/ Bishop Bentley/ dogs -- Siberian Husky/ commercial fishing/ license -- losing/ leasing -- prohibited/ commercial license -- selling it/ money -- profit/ under selling|
20) Boat racing.
Yukon 800 -- won in 1965/ Anderson, Johnny/ race -- Ruby and back/ racing -- getting started/ river -- knowledge/ races -- short/ Nenana|
21) Boat racing continued.
Yukon/ Galena/ gas up/ race -- non-stop/ fire/ Manley Hot Springs/ trees -- used as markers/ Yukon River/ markers|