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Ruth Sandvik

Ruth Sandvik: Interview Outline: Section 2

Moving from Selawik to Kiana, school, and stores

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

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Ruth Sandvik: When we moved over here from Selawik (map) in 1935, a territorial -- there as a small log house, which is the -- which is the school. So they had a school here and Alex McIntosh was the teacher. And I don't know anything about him, other than he taught and he seemed to teach very well because the people -- the few people who attended religiously came out with good penmanship, they seemed to know math very well.

And then they built another school, I think, well, a bigger school as more Eskimos gathered here, and there became more -- more people.

Bill Schneider: I think we've seen a picture of the early school and with you in the picture.

Ruth Sandvik: No, I didn't go to that little log house.

Bill Schneider: You didn't go to that one?

Ruth Sandvik: And I've seen -- I've seen a picture of that log house. I don't know that it's here. But then the school that's there now, the white building, I -- I think that was built in 1936. But across from it was another building that came just before that, between the McIntosh era and -- and that one. I think one of the first teachers at that other school before the white -- before the white building down there was a University of Alaska graduate, Jim Pendleton was a teacher. And -- and he's mentioned in Bill Cashen's book.

Bill Schneider: Uh-hum. Uh-hum. So continuing on with the history, then, Traders established --

Ruth Sandvik: Yeah, then Traders. There was a store down at Okok Point (map) because at that time, the Eskimos trapped and hunted and so they needed -- they needed stores nearer -- near where they traveled. There was also -- there were a couple of other stores here when - even before I was -- before I was born.

Now, the store that was at Okok Point was moved up to -- up to where our building is now. And when we tore it down, it was quite interestingly built. The two-by-fours were sometimes 16 inches apart, sometimes 32 inches apart. And there was no insulation. I -- we came across some sawdust, but that was all they had.

And I'm told where the store is was where there was a dance hall, but again, I mean, I never have seen any evidence of that, so I don't know how much is myth or whether it was exaggerated.

There was a building that was pretty old, say, in 1938, '39, behind the Blankenship store building, and now Percy -- I think it was Percy who said that was a horse barn, but when I appeared and it looked -- it looked like there was some -- there was living quarters there because I found a little -- a little purse, a purse, a beaded purse that one would use to go to a fancy party. But I don't know what it was doing up here on the Kobuk.

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