Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

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Montage of images from Nome history

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.

This Jukebox, also funded by the Alaska Humanities Forum, highlights some of the storytelling from Nome, Alaska in February 1996, where people talked about the history of life and activities in Nome.

Eight stories were selected from the Nome sessions for inclusion based upon their importance to the overall telling of Nome's history. Selection was made by: representatives of the original Nome Communities of Memory organizing committee (Nancy Mendenhall, Bonnie Hahn, Caroline Reader, and Bernadette Stimpfle); Rose Atok Fosdick, a cultural and humanistic advisor on the Jukebox project; and Dr. William Schneider, Curator of Oral History at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Dr. Pat Partnow was the project's independent evaluator. The booklet "Communities of Memory: The Lives and Adventures of Nomeites Old and New Through the Seasons...And Through the Years" written and published by George Sabo (Nome, 1997) contains transcripts and photographs from the Nome session. George Sabo also produced a video based on the Nome event.

Click on a picture below to access a person's interview.

People

Jacob Ahwinona Jacob Ahwinona

Jacob Ahwinona was an Inupiaq elder from Nome, Alaska. He was born near White Mountain, Alaska in 1923 to Joshua and Nora (Apok) Ahwinona. He was raised in White Mountain and attended school there through the eighth grade. He moved to Nome to work for the U.S. Mining Company on their gold dredges and as a mechanic. He then was an equipment operator for the Nome public schools. In 1950, he married Hannah Anagick from Unalakleet. Jacob was an active member of the Nome community being involved... Read More

Howard Farley Howard Farley Howard Farley is a dog musher and fisherman from Nome, Alaska. He is one of the founders of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and helped organize the finish of the first race in Nome in 1973.
Bonnie Hahn Bonnie Hahn Bonnie Hahn was born in 1931 and raised in Nome, Alaska. Her father was superintendent of schools in Nome, was deputy Marshall, and worked for the Alaska Road Commission. As a teenager, Bonnie was a telephone operator for the community. She became a school teacher in Nome for many years, including being the physical education teacher at Nome High School. In 1960. she and her husband, Pete, bought the old Cape Nome Roadhouse and helped repair and preserve it. In 1996, she helped organize the... Read More
Daniel Karmun Daniel Karmun Growing up on the Seward Peninsula in northwestern Alaska, Daniel Karmun comes from a family with a heritage of reindeer herding. His father was a reindeer agent in Wales and also worked with reindeer at Deering. In addition to being a reindeer herder, Dan also worked in reindeer management as a Reindeer Agent with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, with Kawerak Native Corporation helping develop reindeer programs, and as Program Director for the Reindeer Herders... Read More
Mamie Maloney Mamie Maloney Mamie Maloney was born in Nome, Alaska in 1923. Her father, Charlie Dahlquist, came to Alaska from Sweden in 1901 for the Gold Rush, finally settling in the Nome area in 1910. He operated the roadhouse at Port Safety, Alaska and the ferry across Safety Lagoon, and drove the mail from Council to Nome by horse team. Mamie's Inupiaq mother died when Mamie was three months old, so she was raised by her father. She helped run the roadhouse and operate the ferry. There was no school in Safety. Mamie... Read More
Nancy Mendenhall Nancy Mendenhall

Nancy Mendenhall came to Alaska in 1961 from Washington, working as a teacher and commercial fisherman in southeastern Alaska. She moved to western Alaska in 1971, continuing her work as an educator and administrator. She settled in Nome, Alaska in 1973. Now retired, she pursues her interest in writing and fishes for subsistence. She has written Beachlines: A Pocket History of Nome, Alaska (1997). In 1996, she coordinated the original Communities of Memory project storytelling events... Read More

Lela Oman Lela Oman

Lela Kiana Oman is an Inupiaq elder who was born in 1915 in Noorvik, Alaska. She moved to Nome, Alaska as a young girl and has remained there ever since. She grew up learning Inupiaq traditional stories from her father, Jim Kiana, despite the pressures against this from nearby missionaries; Eskimo dancing also was not allowed in the village. She has spent her life focused on preserving these stories and passing on her Inupiaq traditions. She has published a number of books of Native stories... Read More

Caroline Reader Caroline Reader Caroline McLain Reader was raised in Nome, Alaska. Her father was a beach miner so the family lived a frugal lifestyle. She graduated from Nome High School in 1946. She helped organize the original Communities of Memory project storytelling events in Nome in 1996.
Jim Stimpfle Jim Stimpfle Jim Stimpfle is real estate agent and long-time resident of Nome, Alaska. He married to Bernadette Alvanna, originally from King Island. Jim helped organize the outreach effort that resulted in the "Friendship Flight" of 1988 between Nome, Alaska and Provideniya, Siberia, which was meant to help melt the ice curtain between Alaska and its neighbor the Soviet Union. A New York Times article detailing the historic flight can be found... Read More

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