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This Project Jukebox highlights stories related to the history of dog mushing in Alaska. We wanted to showcase some of our historic oral history interviews and this project gave us the opportunity to incorporate new recordings into our collection, as well. While there are many well-known figures in Alaskan dog mushing, we selected stories from some who are less well-known and who might otherwise go unheard, and according to how their experiences reflected the themes we wanted to be sure were represented in the project. The recordings included in this project represent various aspects of dog mushing, including: traditional use, freighting, mail carrying, recreational use, tourism, sled building, trail systems, dog care, and racing.
People who visit this website can access visual and oral resources that reconstruct the stories of how dog teams have been used in Alaska. The site includes recordings from the Oral History Collection at Elmer E. Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, as well as historic photographs and film clips from our collections, from other Alaska institutions, and from personal family collections.
Click here for a list of all the material relating to dog mushing available in the University of Alaska Fairbanks Rasmuson Library's on-line catalog .
George Attla grew up in Huslia, Alaska when dog teams were used as basic transportation. After suffering tuberculosis as a child, George was limited in his physical abilities but his father gave him puppies to raise. This started a life-long love of dogs, mushing, and eventually dog racing. George, nick-named "The Huslia Hustler," became well known for his sprint racing success in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. For more about George Attla, see: Spirit of the Wind: The Story of... Read More
Pete Bowers grew up in Pennsylvania and came to Alaska in 1974 to perform archeological fieldwork in the Alaska Range. He is an archeologist and is president of Northern Land Use Research, Inc., the largest cultural resource consulting firm in Alaska. Pete got involved in sled dog racing in the late 1970's, participating in both sprint races as well as longer distance races. He wrote an article for the Alaska Dog... Read More
Moses Cruikshank is an Athabaskan Indian from Beaver, Alaska. Moses spent part of his childhood at St. Mark's Mission in Nenana, Alaska where he became the "dog boy" who helped prepare the dogs to travel on the missionaries' winter circuits. He spent much of his life around dogs and dog teams.
Bill Demoski is an Athabascan who grew up in Koyukuk, and lived in the Galena area on the Yukon River in interior Alaska, living a traditional hunting, trapping and fishing-based lifestyle. His father, Aloysius Demoski, was a dog team mail carrier in the 1920s and 1930s who depended on good lead dogs to help him determine where the ice was unsafe. Bill moved to Fairbanks around 2006 where he has applied his general knowledge of river ice to the Tanana River.
Bill shared his knowledge... Read More
Wayne Eben was born December 24, 1910 in Unalakleet, Alaska. He lived in Unalakleet for 43 years, and also lived in White Mountain, Nome, and Anchorage. Wayne was raised at a roadhouse his dad operated near Unalakleet, Alaska and started driving dogs when he was ten years old. He became a saw mill owner, carpenter, and electrician. He also taught Native studies at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Wayne passed away on January 9, 2003. For more information about Wayne Eben, see his... Read More
|Richard Frank||Richard Frank was a respected Athabascan Elder from Minto, Alaska. He was born in 1927 to Justin and Lucy Frank, during a time when a nomadic subsistence lifestyle was paramount for survival. His family moved across the lands of Rampart, Stevens Village and Minto. He grew up learning the skills and traditions of his ancestors. This early training set the path and philosophy that Richard followed throughout his life: a strong work ethic, a sense of place, service to his community, fierce... Read More|
|Carol Kleckner||Carol Kleckner is a skijorer and dog musher who lives in Fairbanks, Alaska. She is the director and vice president of the Second Chance League, a sled dog rescue organization which finds homes for huskies and sled dogs that are left at the Fairbanks Animal Shelter.|
|Effie Kokrine||Effie Kokrine was a respected Athabascan Elder and long-time resident of Fairbanks, Alaska. She was born in a camp on the Tanana River on March 23, 1919, and moved to Fairbanks with her husband, Andy Kokrine, in 1949. She was an avid dog-musher who won the Women's North American Sled Dog Championships in 1946 and 1947. She was a dedicated educator, teaching Athabascan culture to Fairbanks school children. To them, she was known as "Grandma Effie." After living in Fairbanks for many years,... Read More|
Wilfred "Tod" Kozevnikoff was born in Tanana, Alaska on January 7, 1937. He grew up in Tanana where his father ran one of the last mail routes by dog team, stopping around 1942. Tod worked at the Tanana Hospital, on the North Slope, and for the Tanana Chiefs Conference before finally retiring in 2008. He passed away on May 23, 2009. To read more about Tod, see his ... Read More
Kathy Lenniger was born in New York City and grew up in Connecticut. After living in New Jersey and Washington, Kathy moved to Alaska in 1975. She started her sled dog business in 1984. Kathy owns Sled Dog Adventures, where she leads guided sled dog trips into Alaska's wilderness.
|Dr. Roland Lombard||Dr. Lombard was a veterinarian who was also a famous dog racer in Alaska, even though he lived in Wayland, Massachusetts. He won the Fur Rendezvous World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage eight times in the 1960s and 1970s and was known for bringing innovative ideas about dog care to Alaska.|
|Dr. Mark May||
Dr. Mark May grew up in Wisconsin and came to Alaska in 1974, following his father, Joe May, who was trapping and running dogs in Trapper Creek, Alaska. Joe May later ran the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, winning it in 1980. Mark May attended the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, earned his veterinary degree at the University of Colorado in 1989, and returned to Alaska to set up a private practice and continue his dog mushing career.
Allen Moore was born in Arkansas and graduated from Arkansas State with a degree in wildlife management. He moved to Alaska over 20 years ago with his two daughters and began sled dog racing. Allen won the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race in 2013 and 2014. Allen and his wife, Aliy Zirkle, operate Skunk Place Kennel where they raise and train their sled dogs.
Herbert (Herbie) Nayokpuk was born in Shishmaref, Alaska on June 12, 1929. He was a veteran middle and long-distance dog racer known as the "Shishmaref Cannonball." Herbie was one of the original mushers to run the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 1973. He also represented Alaska at the presidential inauguration of Ronald Regan in 1981. For more about Herbie Nayokpuk, see his obituary in the Ruralite Magazine... Read More
Warren Harding Neakok was born to Frederick Thomas Neakok (known as Tommy Neakok or Tommy Knox) and Eva Neakok at Akuliaqattaq near Icy Cape, Alaska, while his family was camped there hunting bearded seals. At age four, Warren was adopted by his grandparents, Neakok and Kimmik Knox and grew up in the area around Icy Cape, Point Lay, and Wainwright, Alaska. He grew up living off the land following a traditional subsistence lifestyle of traveling by dog team and hunting caribou, seals, and... Read More
George O'Leary's father, Maurice O'Leary, hauled mail and freight by dog team in the winter and with horses in the summer over the Circle-Fairbanks trail.
Grant Pearson began work at Mount McKinley National Park as a park ranger in February 1926 and retired as superintendent in November 1956. During his tenure, dog teams were used to patrol the Park's vast backcountry. For more about Grant Pearson and dog teams at Mount McKinley National Park, see: My Life of High Adventure by Grant Pearson with Philip Newill (New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 1962); and Crown Jewel of the North: An Administrative History of Denali National Park and... Read More
|Jennifer "Jen" Raffaeli||
Jennifer "Jen" Raffaeli manages the sled dog kennels at Alaska's Denali National Park. She was born in Minnesota in 1975, and as a child loved animals and the outdoors, and as a teenager competed in horse jumper competitions. In 1998, she came to Alaska for a summer job at a ecotourism lodge in Cooper Landing. She became interested in dog mushing when taking tourists to visit Jeff King's Husky Homestead near Denali National Park. In the winter of 1999, she worked for Arleigh Jorgenson in... Read More
|Joe Redington, Jr.||
Joe Redington, Jr. (Joee) is the son of Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race founder, Joe Redington, Sr. He grew up on the family homestead in Knik, Alaska and got involved with dog mushing at an early age. Joee has been a successful sprint dog racer, winning the Junior Fur Rendevous and Junior Open North American, as well as the World Championship Fur Rendezvous sled dog race in 1966. He competed in races all across Alaska, Canada, New York and New Hampshire, and the Mid-West circuit. He retired... Read More
|Joe Redington, Sr.||
Joe Redington. Sr. was a homesteader and dog musher in Knik, Alaska. He is one of the founders of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 1972, and is known as "the father of the Iditarod." For more about Joe Redington, Sr. see: Father of the Iditarod, The Joe Redington Story by Lew Freedman (Fairbanks, AK: Epicenter Press, 1999).
Emily Schwing was born in 1983 and grew up in Colorado and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attended Carleton College in Minnesota. She got her start as a radio journalist at the age of 19 at KUER public radio station in Salt Lake City, Utah. She came to Alaska in April 2006 to work as an intern at KFSK public radio station in Petersburg, Alaska. She came to Fairbanks to pursue a master's degree in Natural Resources Management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where she became a volunteer... Read More
Mary Shields first came to Alaska in 1965 as a college student working for Campfire Girls. Eventually, she found herself involved with dogs and dog teams, which led to long distance travel, racing, and tourism. Mary was the first woman to complete the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and currently provides tours of her dogs and kennel in Fairbanks called Alaskan Tails of the Trail. For more about Mary Shields and her dog... Read More
Cody Strathe owns Dog Paddle Designs, where he builds custom dog sleds, kayaks, and accessories. With a degree in Natural Resources, Cody first came to Alaska as a backcountry guide and later studied archeology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He and his wife eventually became interested in dog mushing and going on camping trips by dog team. In 2006, Cody built his first dog sled for his wife based on information from the Internet.
|Dr. R.W. Van Pelt||Dr. Rollo "R.W." Van Pelt was an official veterinarian for the Iditarod Race and a certified pathologist. He established his veterinary practice in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1973 and also practiced in Oregon. He was a researcher and professor at Michigan State University and at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.|
Frank Warren was born June 4, 1928 in Batavia, New York. He came to Alaska in December of 1946. He married his wife, Mary, in 1953 and moved to Circle City in 1956 after purchasing the Yukon Trading Post. He moved to Central, Alaska in 1977 and finally to Fairbanks, Alaska after that. Frank and Mary had four children. Frank passed away on March 14, 2012. For more about Frank Warren, visit his... Read More
Harold Woods was born in Rampart, Alaska in 1912 to Alfred Lyman and Annie Pitka Woods. Harold grew up living a subsistence lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping along the Yukon River. Dog teams were the main mode of transportation. He also worked as a dog team mail carrier betweeen Rampart and Manley Hot Springs. In 1935, he got into sled dog racing and participated in races around interior Alaska for a number of years. Although he stopped racing, he continued to breed and train dogs.... Read More
Gareth Wright grew up in Nenana, Alaska, where he learned to drive a dog team from his father and well-known dog breeder, Arthur Wright. Gareth went on to become a successful dog breeder and sprint dog racer.
Aliy Zirkle is the first woman to win the 1000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. She was born in New Hampshire and spent her childhood in Puerto Rico and St. Louis, Missouri. Aliy graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with dual degrees in biology and anthropology. At age 20, she moved to Alaska and began dog mushing in Bettles, Alaska. She regularly competes in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and the Yukon Quest. Aliy and her husband Allen... Read More