Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

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 BethelFairbanksHomerJuneau, Kenai-Soldotna, KotzebueNomeUnalaska, and Wasilla.

boots_uniform displayThe 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.

tpkotz3_crop.jpgThe 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 Allen, Sr. 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 Chester Ballot

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

Levi Mills, Sr. 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

Tommy Ongtooguk 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

Walter Sampson Walter Sampson

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

Alfred Wells, Sr. 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

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