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Ruth Sandvik

Ruth Sandvik: Interview Outline: Section 1

Introduction, history of Kiana as heard from old-timers

Tape Reference Number: H2002-09-11
Ruth Blankenship-Sandvik talks with Bill Schneider and Eileen Devinney in Kiana, Alaska on February 28, 2002.


Bill Schneider: Today is February 28th, 2002, and we have the pleasure today of talking with Ruth Blankenship Sandvik, here in Kiana. And I'm with Eileen Devinney. And I'm Bill Schneider. And we're --

Eileen Devinney: We really only had one. Okay.

Bill Schneider: Okay. So I guess we're off and rolling now. And everything is recording. So would you talk for a few minutes about the history of -- of this place, Kiana (map), as you've heard it from some of the old-timers.

Ruth Sandvik: Well, I wondered how the Eskimos established little houses on the bench on -- below the graveyard, in what we call the old village, and, Percy, earlier this month said a man named Aakauqsruaraq, who was my grandmother's older brother, when this area was haunted from Okok Point (map) all the way -- all the way up to the mouth of the Squirrel River, decided, he appeared to have some kind of power. So he challenged -- challenged the land, I guess, and spent a year on prominent knolls between Okok Point until he reached the bench over in the old village. And he built a house there. And that -- his camp, his camping at these various places seemed to get rid of whatever -- whatever they -- was making the people nervous, and they began moving in around him over on the bench in the old village. That was so -- that was always the Eskimos' preferred place.

Then when the miners came up in 1898 to '99, they had camps all over from the mouth of the river clear up to the Pah River (map) (phonetic). And they established a camp over on this side in our area down by the beach. And then later when they found gold --when gold was found in Klery Creek, it was the area where they -- where they established a -- a trading post, a place for -- to store their freight, to freight up to -- to the Klery Creek (map) area.

And it wasn't -- so I am told, and I never saw them, and I never saw too much evidence of it -- I was told and as others were told that there were -- there were established -- bar -- there were bars here, there were road houses. And perhaps a thousand Caucasians who lived in this little area. But if they did, I never saw -- I never saw evidence of that many houses when I came.