The Alaska Communities of Memory Project was a statewide effort from 1994-1996 funded by the Alaska Humanities Forum to provide an opportunity for people in communities around Alaska to share memories of their community and to reflect on what made their community special. These gatherings were held in Bethel, Fairbanks, Homer, Juneau, Kenai-Soldotna, Kotzebue, Nome, Unalaska, and Wasilla.
The Kotzebue Communities of Memory Project Jukebox highlights the gathering that took place at the NANA Museum in Kotzebue from February 29 to March 2, 1996. People came together during these sessions to share stories and talk about their experiences with war, whether it was World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam Conflict. People described what it was like being in the military and then returning home, while others told stories about what it was like at home in Kotzebue during these wars. Walter Sampson of Kotzebue facilitated the event.
The Kotzebue Communities of Memory program began with an introduction by Walter Sampson, followed by a reading of names of people from the surrounding communities who served in the military. This was followed by individuals coming on stage and sharing their stories and memories.
Click on a picture below to access a person's interview. Thanks to participants and their families for allowing us to share these stories. Photos related to Kotzebue can be found in the Alaska Digital Archives.
|Clarence "Talliq" Allen, Sr.||
Clarence "Talliq" Allen, Sr. was born in 1925 in Noatak, Alaska. After growing up in a small village and living a traditional Iñupiaq hunting and fishing lifestyle, in 1943, Clarence joined the Alaska Territorial Guard and served in the military until 1945, when he then went to work for the U.S. Department of Defense at Fort Richardson in Anchorage. He returned to northwestern Alaska and in 1950 joined the National Guard, serving a total of 36 years before he retired. Clarence learned to be... Read More
Chester Ballot is an Iñupiaq elder who was born in 1944 near Selawik, Alaska. Chester grew up in Kotzebue living a traditional Iñupiaq hunting and fishing lifestyle, and graduated from Mount Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, Alaska. After graduating in 1962, Chester received electronics training at the RCA Institutes in Los Angelese, California. Chester was drafted and at age 21 began his service in the U.S. Army. With his electronics background, he was first sent to West Germany with the 97th... Read More
Raymond Coppock is from Kotzebue, Alaska. He served twenty-five years in the Alaska National Guard starting in 1967, and ended up commanding a guard unit. From February 29 to March 2, 1996, Raymond participated in the Communities of Memory public storytelling event held in Kotzebue where local residents spoke about their memories of and experiences related to the military. He currently works as a counselor/therapist in Kotzebue.
Rachel Craig was born in 1930 in Kotzebue, Alaska. She grew up speaking her native Iñupiaq language and living a traditional lifestyle, where they relied upon hunting seals and caribou, fishing, and berry picking for their food and used dogteams to travel between town and seasonal camps. She was well known as an Iñupiaq language linguist and educator who documented, preserved, and passed on knowledge about Iñupiaq history and language in the Kotzebue region. She was... Read More
Carl "Ivivik" Geffe was born in 1933 in Kiana, Alaska. Carl grew up in Kiana and at age sixteen joined the Alaska National Guard. He went to Nome, Alaska for training as a non-commisioned officer in charge (NCOIC), and then he and Roger Atoruk organized the first National Guard unit in Kiana. From February 29 to March 2, 1996, Carl participated in the Communities of Memory public storytelling event held in Kotzebue where local residents spoke about their memories of and experiences related... Read More
|Levi "Alusuk" Mills, Sr.||
Levi "Alusuk" Mills, Sr. was born in 1903 and grew up living a traditional Iñupiaq hunting, trapping, and fishing lifestyle around Kotzebue, Alaska. Levi joined the army around 1941 when he was 38 years old in order to help his country during World War II. He was stationed in the Aleutian Islands. From February 29 to March 2, 1996, Levi participated in the Communities of Memory public storytelling event held in Kotzebue where local residents spoke about their memories of and experiences... Read More
Esther Norton was born in 1913 in Noatak, Alaska. She grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle relying on hunting, fishing, and berry picking and traveling by dog team to seasonal camps. Her husband worked in the mining camps, so she spent some time at Candle, Alaska, and later moved to Kotzebue. She remembers life in the village during World War II, and the local men signing up for and training with the Alaska Territorial Guard (ATG).... Read More
|Tommy "Muquluk" Ongtooguk||
Tommy "Muquluk" Ongtooguk was born in 1922 in Teller, Alaska. His ancestry on his father's side is from Diomede Island and Siberia, and from Wales on his mother's side. He grew up living a traditional Iñupiaq hunting and fishing lifestyle. In November 1946, Tommy enlisted in the Alaska Territorial Guard in Nome, Alaska. He attended basic training at Fort Richardson near Anchorage. His abilities as a subsistence hunter and being able to sustain tough conditions and have stamina, helped him... Read More
Jonas Ramoth is an Iñupiaq elder originally from Selawik, Alaska. At age fifteen, he left Selawik to attend school in White Mountain and then went on to Mt. Edgecumbe in Sitka, Alaska. After schooling, he returned to Selawik where he hunted, trapped and fished in addition to raising a family and being the postmaster for many years. He moved to Kotzebue in 1983 after his wife died in order to live with his extended family. For many years, Jonas worked as an Interpretive Naturalist for the... Read More
|Ruthie (Ramoth) Sampson||
Ruthie Tatqavin Ramoth Sampson was an award-winning and devoted Iñupiaq linguist and educator in northwestern Alaska. Born in Selawik to Emma and Ralph Ramoth, Ruthie grew up in a large family living a traditional subsistence lifestyle and learning to speak her Native Iñupiaq language. At age fourteen, Ruthie left Selawik to attend high school in Anchorage, and went on to attend college at University of Alaska Fairbanks, Central Washington State College, and Chukchi College, Kotzebue's... Read More
Walter Sampson is an Iñupiaq elder who was born in 1948 in Noorvik, Alaska. Walter was educated at the high school in Noorvik, Kotzebue Friends High School, and Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Oregon. After graduating from Chemawa in 1968, Walter was drafted and served in the army for two years, including training at Fort Lewis in Washington and serving in Vietnam with the Americal Division combat infantry unit. He was awarded two bronze star medals, one Army commendation medal, a Vietnam... Read More
Daisy Walton was born in 1924 in Noatak, Alaska. Her husband, Delbert, was originally from Kivalina and served in the military during World War II. They met and married after he returned home. He continued to serve in the Alaska National Guard, leaving Daisy at home alone for periods of time to care for the... Read More
Helen Wells was an Iñupiaq elder originally from Noorvik, Alaska. From February 29 to March 2, 1996, Helen participated in the Communities of Memory public storytelling event held in Kotzebue where local residents spoke about their memories of and experiences related to the military.
|Alfred Wells, Sr.||
Alfred Wells, Sr. was born in 1922 in Noorvik, Alaska. After growing up in a small village and living a traditional Iñupiaq hunting and fishing lifestyle, in 1942, at age twenty, Alfred was drafted into the army, went to Nome for training, and served in the Alaska Territorial Guard. He served on the board of the Putoo Village Corporation of Noorvik, raised a family, and continued to hunt and fish according to his Iñupiaq traditions. Alfred also was known for being a champion sled dog racer.... Read More