Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Cecil Martin

Cecil Martin was interviewed on December 11, 2013 by Barbara Cellarius and Leslie McCartney at the tribal council office in Dot Lake, Alaska. In this interview, Cecil talks about his grandfather, Gene Henry, and his hunting, fishing and trapping activities at Batzulnetas, in the upper Copper River area, and around Dot Lake. Cecil shares his memories of his grandfather and his stories, as well as sharing his own fishing experience in the Batzulnetas area. Cecil also talks about his work as a wildlands firefighter and changes that have occurred in the community of Dot Lake.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2013-14-03

Project: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Date of Interview: Dec 11, 2013
Narrator(s): Cecil Martin
Interviewer(s): Leslie McCartney, Barbara Cellarius
Videographer: Leslie McCartney
Transcriber: Joan O'Leary
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
Slideshow
There is no slideshow for this person.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.

Sections

Grandfather's hunting and trapping in the upper Copper River area

Personal hunting and fishing experience in the upper Copper River area

Types of fish harvested and camp at Batzulnetas

Hunting with his grandfather, and his grandfather running a dogteam

Impact of establishment of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and hunting regulations

Trapping, and Dot Lake subsistence

Grandfather's family, and hunting and trapping by walking or dogteam

Working as a firefighter in the summer

Effect of a fire on a community

Social and economic change in Dot Lake

Grandfather's stories of hunting and traveling

Starvation times

Grandfather working for the Alaska Road Commission, and community changes from road construction

Group home near Dot Lake and role of sports in the community

Gardens and gardening

Fish camp

Environmental and animal population changes

Hunting caribou at Mansfield and Tanacross

Berry picking and wood carving

Use of pack dogs

Grandfather's subsistence use area and selling furs

Other people's connections to Wrangell-St;. Elias National Park

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.

Transcript

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Okay, today is December the 11th, 2013. We're in Dot Lake with Cecil Martin. Thank you very much. And Barbara Cellarius from the Park Service and I'm Leslie McCartney.

And Cecil, you wanted to participate in and talk to this it wasn’t so much you -- You have been down in the Wrangell-St. Elias area, but it was more your grandfather.

But maybe before we get started, you can tell us a little about you and your family and where you grew up, and then maybe about your grandfather, too.

CECIL MARTIN: I grew up here in Dot Lake. Lived here most of my life. We lived in Tanacross for a few years, but mainly here.

My mom was born and raised in Tanacross. Her mom is from there and my grandfather was from Batzulnetas.

He was born there in 1911. He was the oldest of 11 children and --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Maybe you could just say their names. The names of your mom and your grandfather.

CECIL MARTIN: Oh, my mom was Marie Dennis. She lives here in Dot Lake.

And my grandfather was Gene Henry, and he married in Tanacross in the late 1930’s, I believe.

And after his wife passed away he moved here to Dot Lake.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And so your grandfather -- this is your mom’s father or --

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Or your dad’s father?

CECIL MARTIN: My mom’s father.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Your mom’s father. So he -- tell me where he used to trap and hunt.

CECIL MARTIN: Pretty much all over the upper Copper River area. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: And up in the -- by Copper Lakes up in these mountains here above Tanada Lake. These used to go up there and hunt sheep with his dad.

Being the oldest of 11 children he had to fend for his younger siblings at a young age so they pretty much all in this area both sides of the Nabesna Road.

And they used all them old trails -- Trail Creek Trail. They used to travel to Tetlin and through Trail Creek Trail, and he’d go from there --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: There's a trail through here. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Why don't you put a marker on that.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So why don’t I give you a pen.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So where were they based then, Cecil, weren’t they kind of -- they were kind of based --

So that's where they hunted and trapped. Where were they --

CECIL MARTIN: Pretty much right in Batzulnetas there.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Batzulnetas, okay.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. And he hunted all over in these mountains around Copper Lake and Tanada Lake.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So do you want a --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Let you draw on the maps some of the places, the areas that he was using?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And then up -- sheep up in those mountains there above Copper and Tanada?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And then you were saying -- you were talking about Trail Creek?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, he used to use -- go on Trail Creek.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So here's Trail Creek. It comes up from the road.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. They probably went through some pass or something and down to the Tetlin River on into Old Tetlin.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay.

CECIL MARTIN: And then from there they -- he traveled to Northway or Tanacross.

Sometimes they'd go over to Suslota Lake there and Old Suslota Village and they’d use that trail and travel up into Mentasta through Indian Pass sometimes.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So sometimes through Indian Pass? CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Sometimes up through Suslota.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, through either pass depend on which way they're -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: But he's hunted all through these mountains, too. Mentasta Mountains. Up in the Tetlin River area.

They're pretty -- they moved around a lot.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Do you know how he ended up in Dot Lake?

CECIL MARTIN: His oldest sister lived here, so --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay.

CECIL MARTIN: After his wife passed away, I believe he wanted to be here close to her.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: You said he went -- he still went down there quite a bit?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, we went down there a lot.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And so tell me about your experiences going down there with him.

CECIL MARTIN: It was pretty good. I remember back in the mid-70’s, I was just a little boy, I wasn’t even old enough to walk all the way down there on my own.

We'd go down there with him and Ruth Hicks, the late Ruth Hicks from Mentasta.

And we'd camp out down there in their canvas tent. And me and my brother would be out playing and there'd be horses running around that were like wild from the ranch there in Slana, I believe, or somewhere up Nabesna Road.

And then in the early 90’s when they won their fishing rights is when we really start utilizing the place a lot more. Up until the present day.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So do you go down to do fishing?

CECIL MARTIN: Me -- I go down there a lot pretty often, yeah, as much as I can.

It's my getaway spot. When I want to get away from everything I usually go down there.

I haven’t spent much time this year though. I went down one time. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: I haven’t got no fish this year. I was too busy.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So when you grew -- you grew up in Dot Lake you said. CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So you had to go to school here and everything? CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So when did you mostly go down -- mostly like during holidays in the summer?

CECIL MARTIN: During the summer -- during the summer -- I haven’t been down there during the winter.

I’d like to start going down there during the winter though. Spend much as -- time as I can down there.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So where was your fishing areas? Where do you like --

CECIL MARTIN: Just right there in Batzulnetas.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: See from Tanada Creek there that's -- we're a little ways down from there right about where that sandbar starts --

just up from that and at the mouth of the creek there. See where this trail comes in?

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Right at that second trail that goes down.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: We could put a little dot there or an X.

CECIL MARTIN: Right here. Pretty much right there.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. CECIL MARTIN: Right in this area here.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So on the Copper (River), but right near the mouth of the Tanada (Creek)?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, just down -- down river from Tanada Creek a ways.

They used to have a fish camp across the Copper there -- right across from Batzulnetas.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: On the other side of the river?

CECIL MARTIN: Other side of the river we got -- we're supposed to have five acres over there, too, so I don’t know about that now.

It changes every year. Our property keeps shrinking. It started out at, I think, 96 acres and some years we'll go down there and survey it and it would be down to -- I think it got down to 86 acres.

And then it'd go back up because of the river. BARBARA CELLARIUS: The river moving. Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Because it goes to the high water mark in the river?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So as your property line goes, so as the river moves.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, so every few years the BLM goes down there and finds out the monuments of our property and they go off of that. Whether sometimes it's --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So is it mostly whitefish down there, Cecil?

CECIL MARTIN: Salmon. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Salmon. CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh.

CECIL MARTIN: Copper River reds, silvers.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And how they've been in the last few years?

CECIL MARTIN: They've been all right. Last year was pretty good.

I got a few from down there. I gave most of them away though. I kept some of them.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So, did you learn anything from your grandpa about the different fish?

You know, sometimes people talk about being able to identify the Batzulnetas fish.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, I know the difference between them. He could -- he was able to name every fish out of every tributary.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: All the streams they came from?

CECIL MARTIN: He could tell if it was in the Gakona River, Gulkana River, Chistochina River and which river it was from Mentasta, Slana fish.

But up there, there's only a couple -- a couple of fish that go that far so you pretty much know which ones they are.

And he used to -- when they were kids he said they used to go over here to the -- behind -- behind the village there -- see where that Rufus Creek there?

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: They used to go over there and they'd fish for Dolly Varden.

And catch a whole bunch of them there.

I still see them in there when I go back there.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: I was just going to ask you in all the years and that you've been fishing down there have you noticed a change in the fish or the amount or anything?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, some years are a lot better than the others. I'm not sure about this year, but I know last year was great.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: I mean they bit -- they got a lot of fish down there.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: We had a record number of fish. CECIL MARTIN: Yeah --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Going past Tanada Creek weir this year.

CECIL MARTIN: Uh-huh. This year?

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah. CECIL MARTIN: Wow! See I haven’t been down there. I haven’t even talked to Lanie, maybe once --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: You didn't make it down this year, yeah.

CECIL MARTIN: I see Lanie one time last summer at Mentasta Lodge and --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah, he mentioned that to me.

CECIL MARTIN: That was when he was -- he told me about that monument they burnt down -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah. CECIL MARTIN: -- there. Yeah.

And that sign they put up for my grandfather someone busted that over, too, so --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: What was the sign that they put up?

CECIL MARTIN: It was in memory of him.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yes. CECIL MARTIN: For pretty much all the dedication he did for the camp.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And where was that camp?

CECIL MARTIN: Right in the --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: It's -- it's at Batzulnetas.

CECIL MARTIN: Right at the creek there. On the Culture Camp there.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: See the camp -- main camp is up by the creek there on Tanada Creek and the fishwheel is down farther on the river there.

It's like two different villages almost. Katie John’s family was on Tanada Creek and my grandpa’s dad’s family was on the river.

They used to have fishtraps in the creek a long time ago, too, I know. We searched high and low for them. We couldn’t find them. I think they all got burnt up when they burnt the houses down.

Back in the 60’s, I think some guys went through there and burnt all them houses down. They'd probably still be, you know, still up right now.

His mom and dad’s cache is probably 200 years old. It finally fell over a couple years ago.

So, yeah, I'm pretty sure those houses would still be up right now, probably even be livable.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: If they didn’t get burnt down.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So were you ever old enough while your grandfather was young enough to take you hunting?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, I've gone hunting with him a few times. Mostly in this area there and we hardly -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Hunted with him down there. Just road hunt.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: He used to run a telegram by dog team down to Gakona on the river, he said.

Or mail or something like that. He used to go all the way down to Gakona, Copper Center. By dog team.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So you think he was delivering the mail when he was --

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. Or a telegram or something. The mail I think, probably from up at the mines somewheres.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. Did he ever talk about the mine?

CECIL MARTIN: Not really. His -- his -- his dad had a lead mine somewhere. He couldn’t remember though.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: His dad did? Oh.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Really.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And what was his dad’s name?

CECIL MARTIN: Batzulnetas Billy.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So when they established the park back in 1980’s, do you remember any talk about how that changed things for people using that land at all or did it make any difference?

CECIL MARTIN: I'm sure it made a difference. It put a lot different restrictions on their --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: On what they were allowed to do and take and -- I’m not really sure.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And what about today? Is there any -- like today with Dot Lake community does that have an impact at all on the people living here now?

CECIL MARTIN: Not really. If you hunt here, you get 15 days. If you hunt there, you get 30 days.

And if there's any bull there's no antler restrictions or nothing like that, you know, if you see horns you can shoot it.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Here or -- CECIL MARTIN: No, down there, yeah.

Here they got antler restrictions. You got to, you know, two weeks is all you get.

Down there you get from August 20 to September 20 for residents of Dot Lake. I think Healy Lake, Tanacross.

So that helps a lot, you know, you don’t have to sit there and measure their horns through your binoculars before you shoot.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So do you go down that way --

CECIL MARTIN: I’ve -- I've gone down there. I got a little bull down there two years ago I think it was or three. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah.

CECIL MARTIN: Something like that. Three years ago.

I haven’t got to go down there this year though.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: What about any sheep hunting, Cecil? Is anybody do any sheep -- ?

CECIL MARTIN: I don’t think so. I've wanted to, but if I did I was going to do it up in Indian Pass probably.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Or somewhere's on this side of Mentasta Pass because on the north side of Mentasta Pass everything's closed for sheep.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: But you talked about your grandfather had been hunting up above.

CECIL MARTIN: Oh, yeah, they used to hunt all the way up to around the Copper Lakes area and these mountains.

Both sides of the Nabesna Road, I think, pretty sure.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Have you heard if there's any big differences between, you know, how many animals there were then or the type that there were to what there is now?

CECIL MARTIN: I'm sure there was a lot more than because there was pretty much just limited to the people that lived there.

You know, even they use it to survive off of it' still I'm sure there was a pretty abundant number of animals compared to now because you got people -- people living in Wasilla and all them places and they're getting mailboxes in Gakona.

And that allows them to hunt in the park (Wrangell-St. Elias National Park) which is wrong, you know. There's --

Just 'cause they got a mailbox in Gakona they're living in Wasilla, Anchorage and Soldotna and all them places, but they still getting mailboxes in like Copper Center and Gakona and that allows them to hunt up there.

So I am pretty sure there is a lot fewer animals nowadays because of all the people that come in there.

It's open to rural residents, but once they show proof of their mailbox in Gakona they get a permit.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: What about trapping? Anybody still do any trapping at all, Cecil, either around here or down that way?

CECIL MARTIN: I know there's a couple guys from Chistochina they go up Boulder Creek and up in that area, Charlie River or Sanford River.

And they trap wolves and stuff up in that area. I don’t see it on this.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah, it's the next map over.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, they -- they do a lot of trapping up there. There's a couple of guys from Chistochina that do.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. Do you trap at all then, Cecil?

CECIL MARTIN: Once -- sometimes yeah. I was going to go do that here in the next few days around here.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. What do you trap for?

CECIL MARTIN: Marten, some lynx and just whatever else that might come through.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: This is that next section of map over, so we'll talk about that area there.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, they go up Sanford River here. I know that. And then they go up Boulder Creek over here, which is just down river from -- or up river from Chistochina.

I know they trap up in here at the foot of Mount Sanford and both Sanford River and Boulder Creek.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Are there still many people in Dot Lake that go out hunting and trapping?

CECIL MARTIN: Not anyone that really traps.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: No.

CECIL MARTIN: But most of them go hunting. I don’t think any of them go down there.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So mostly around the village.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. They go out on the Tanana River out here. Sam Lake, Billy Creek and them places.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And do they fish in there, too?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

CECIL MARTIN: There's no -- they don’t really get no salmon out of this far up.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Do people get salmon from other places?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, they usually go down near the Copper. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: A lot of them go to Valdez and places like that, too. Homer.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So how large is Dot Lake?

CECIL MARTIN: Right now? BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: I don’t know, maybe 25 people.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: That’s all? CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Wow! CECIL MARTIN: If you’re lucky.

In the past year, actually, there's quite a few people moved away.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Do most people who live here then are doing their hunting and fishing and trapping, except for salmon, pretty close?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, pretty much right around this area.

He told me he's gone all around these areas, too. Around Ewan Lake and them areas.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Your grandpa?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. Up the Chistochina River, up to Mankomen Lake, up the Slana River, pretty much --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: A lot of traveling around?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Did they have any children, Cecil?

CECIL MARTIN: Who? LESLIE McCARTNEY: Your grandfather and his wife have many children?

CECIL MARTIN: Oh, yeah, my mom and her older brother, Brady.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. Oh, so Brady's your uncle?

CECIL MARTIN: Brady's my uncle, yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Okay.

CECIL MARTIN: He had a -- he's got an older daughter that lives in Chistochina, too.

Or she's living in Tazlina now. She's from Chistochina.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. CECIL MARTIN: That was before he moved down to Tanacross.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right. And did the kids all go out with him hunting and on the trapline?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. Brady's gone all over with him. Man, he packed that guy everywhere.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: I’ve heard stories of little kids going out on the trapline in the dog sled.

CECIL MARTIN: Uh-huh.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Is that how he -- did he start --

CECIL MARTIN: I'm not sure if he had many -- much -- he probably had a dog team when he was in Tanacross, but --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: When he was trapping, was he just walking on --

CECIL MARTIN: Oh, yeah, here in Dot Lake he used to walk, yeah, but in Tanacross and over there in Batzulnetas he used to do it by dog team.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: But once he got to Dot Lake I don’t think he had a dog team any more. He might have. I'm not for sure.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: But you don’t remember?

CECIL MARTIN: Uh-uh. I wasn’t born then.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And of course now today it's mostly snowmobiles, is it?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

CECIL MARTIN: Pretty much or walk.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Cecil, you mentioned that sometimes in the summertime you take jobs fire jumping.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. That's what I did all last summer.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah, we were -- Barbara and I were just talking about that. Can you tell us about that?

CECIL MARTIN: About firefighting? LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

CECIL MARTIN: It's alright.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And how important it is today?

BARBARA CELLARIUS: It seems like it's really important to some of these communities around here.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, it's pretty much basically for a lot of people that's their only source of income, and it's only seasonal so you don’t get unemployment or nothing out of it so it's --

Yeah, it comes in pretty handy.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So who do you actually end up working for?

CECIL MARTIN: For Tok Forestry, yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And what's the season then, Cecil, like when's the start and stop dates. Kinda -- CECIL MARTIN: Usually -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: -- depends on fires, but --

CECIL MARTIN: Lately, it's been starting pretty early like in May.

And they've been running pretty late up until September sometimes.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Hm.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Is it mostly when you get called up for a job or is there --

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Other stuff that you do?

CECIL MARTIN: Mostly when we get called for a job unless you're on a contract crew like Tanana Chiefs or a hotshot crew you work like tree thinning in villages --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Oh right -- CECIL MARTIN: And there is other stuff.

And then when there's a fire call, you'll go on a fire if you're on a contract crew.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So if you're just doing the fire jumping, are you on call at 24 hour -- hours seven days a week type of thing or do you work shifts or --

CECIL MARTIN: Shifts. We work shifts like two weeks on -- like 14 days and then you got to take two days off.

But if you're on the station there like in Tok, like doing initial attack, you can go up to 21 days.

Or well, 20 days and the 21st day has to be your day off.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So I imagine last summer was busy?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, it was. It was -- I -- we were on the same fire forever.

We stay -- spent over a month in Mansfield Village there just doing structure protection and as soon as they --

everything cooled down and they had this guy pull all the hoses, sprinklers, everything off and then the fire blew back up so they sent us back over there to set it all back up again.

And so we were there doing that twice. We spent like six weeks out there.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: But it was worth it, the fire didn’t get it.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: How many years you've been doing that?

CECIL MARTIN: Since I was 18 -- since 1991.

I took last year off. I was working in this office here, so --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And is there training that you do for fighting fires?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, they have training in Tok.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: And like just during the day and the mornings they'd have us do like a compass training or radio and stuff like that for people that need it.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: How many people are usually working on that, Cecil?

CECIL MARTIN: It depends. It could be multiple crews at a time.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: How big's a crew? (Phone ringing in background continuously)

CECIL MARTIN: Up to -- here in Alaska they do 16.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay.

CECIL MARTIN: But if you travel to the Lower 48, you're up to 20.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Do you ever get shipped down there?

CECIL MARTIN: Oh, yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Do ya?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. we've done -- I've done a few fires out there, too.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Whereabouts -- just wherever they need you for a particular year or is it always a particular state?

CECIL MARTIN: Um -- it varies. We've gone to Utah, Montana, California, Oregon. And what else? That's about it, I think.

But they've been called to all multiple different states -- Washington, Idaho.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So it's mostly or it's sort of what -- the work that you do gets organized out of Tok?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, there's -- they have a resource order -- resource number and they pretty much have it set up to where you're going.

But a lot of times it has changed, too.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: What’s changed?

CECIL MARTIN: The resource order. They might say you’re going to Fairbanks and you end up down in Homer or something.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Something new comes up?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Where they need people.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: But this is an important -- this is an important employment opportunity -- CECIL MARTIN: Uh-huh.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: -- for people in the villages.

CECIL MARTIN: Yep. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Every summer.

So same people usually every summer volunteering?

CECIL MARTIN: Pretty much, yeah. Pretty much the same people. It's -- it varies. Some people get seasonal jobs.

The next year they don’t have a seasonal job they come back. And a lot of it's been the same lately.

A lot of younger guys coming up, you know, and joining up. Like my nephew just finally got his red card like just towards the end of the season and he got on with us there in Tok for a couple of days.

But next year he'll probably be ready if he's not working.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So as we were driving up here there's obviously a big fire went through at one time along the highway, when was that?

CECIL MARTIN: Last year. Moon Lake. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Was that when?

CECIL MARTIN: Was that across the river?

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah, Moon River.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, that was Moon Lake fire, last year.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Wow, that was just last year.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: But the fire -- the fire that was right along -- that got really close to Tanacross --

CECIL MARTIN: That was Eagle Trail fire.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah, that was a couple years ago, right?

CECIL MARTIN: In 2010.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So how does a fire like that effect your community I mean for trapping and hunting or whatever? What will that do?

CECIL MARTIN: Um -- well, the way it affected Tanacross there was no block from the wind. That’s why all the trees got massacred when that big wind storm hit.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. CECIL MARTIN: You know, if it didn’t burn like that, it probably wouldn’t have been so bad, but everything burnt. That's why the wind just took everything out.

As far as hunting and trapping it might have helped some. In the years to come cause, you know, all that re-growth there'll be a lot of moose out there eating the willows. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: And it brought a lot of firewood for them. Well, supposedly, but --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: What happens when there's a fire down in the park (Wrangell-St. Elias National Park)?

CECIL MARTIN: They let it burn. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Just let it go? CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Well do -- you know, he was talking about structure protection -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yes.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: -- at Mansfield and so we’ll do that kind of thing.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: But because of the, you know, it's part of the natural ecosystem.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: If it’s a natural fire. So, if it's a lightening strike or something like that. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: We had -- it's along the Chisana River. We had a fire in here this year.

CECIL MARTIN: Oh, yeah, we --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Did you hear about that one? CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Probably people from Tok got -- CECIL MARTIN: Uh-huh.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: -- sent over there.

Are there any other seasonal jobs that young people in the community -- Dot Lake --

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, they -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: -- neighboring communities typically get?

CECIL MARTIN: Like the -- I got -- I got program they opened up seasonal jobs to work at the landfill. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Do solid waste and whatever else might come up around here.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: You were saying people have been moving away. Why?

CECIL MARTIN: Um -- it's just no jobs. I mean with the new council, you know, a lot of people aren’t really for that. None of them live here.

You know, that’s why I quit my job, you know, I was like I can’t work with you guys anymore. I tried.

I did the best I could, you know, and all these deadlines coming up for the program I was working for reports and this and that and none of them would return my phone calls or e-mails or nothing and finally I just said I’m done.

Otherwise, I'd have still been here in this office probably.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: It looked like the school was open?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, barely. They had -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. CECIL MARTIN: To get a couple kids come down from Tok to keep it open.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Really. (Phone ringing)

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Got probably just one teacher then?

CECIL MARTIN: I think there's a couple here. I’m not sure. I mean (inaudible). LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

CECIL MARTIN: He’s a new guy, so I don’t know who he is.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Was that the school you went to?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. I went to Tok school, too, part of the time. Mentasta -- I did a year in Mentasta.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So what kind of stories do you remember from your grandfather telling you about being out on the land?

Or what stories have you got about being out on the land with him?

CECIL MARTIN: Well, just pretty much basically how when they were kids mainly. How he'd go fishing at Rufus Creek and get Dolly Varden and then sometimes they’d --

they’d make snares out of sinew and they put them in the brush and it was like a game for them that they’d all start line up and they’d chase --

they’d run through the willow brush and scare the ptarmigan up and when they land in the trees they'd get caught in the sinew snares, and that's how they caught their ptarmigan.

And just how he’d run, you know, travel by dog team. And him and his dad would hunt up in the mountains for sheep mainly. Like in November month they’d go up there and hunt sheep.

And how he’d run the mail and stuff, too, by dog team. Caribou -- they used to --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Where did they hunt caribou?

CECIL MARTIN: Just right there --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Right there near Batzulnetas?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, right near there they’d come through all the time. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Two years ago we went down there and pulled a fishwheel out on the first of October and there were hundreds of them off there on the sandbar -- all over the place.

So, yeah, they came right through there, you know. They’d make clothing out of it pretty much. There's pictures of him in that book when he was a little boy he was just from head to toe was all just made out of caribou skin.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Mentasta Remembers?

CECIL MARTIN: No, the other one that --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Which book?

CECIL MARTIN: The Batzulnetas book. Headwaters People.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Oh, okay, that one. Jim Kari's.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

He’d tell me stories how they’d used to travel to Mentasta and he'd go up there and help -- help them hunt sheep, too.

They’d be so tired of fish, you know, and cause a lot of time that’s all they had and he’d go help there and help them hunt for meat up in --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Up in those mountains above Mentasta?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, up in Bone Creek and up Station Creek.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Remember any starvation times at all, Cecil, that you remember him talking about like some winters where it was really hard?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, he's talked about that. How they’d -- they’d sell their fish -- dry fish.

They’d call it -- like for three or four bucks a bushel and there'd be 40 of them in a gunnysack, you know, and --

Then before he passed he was down in Copper Center they're trying to charge him like eight bucks for one, you know, and he’d like what?

I used to sell that for three dollars for 40 of them he said.

But they’d go up to Ahtell Creek and there was an old miner up there. They called him Laughing Willy or something and they’d trade fish for rice and dry goods and stuff what they needed and things like that.

And then people started dying off in the late -- mid-30’s, I think maybe early 30’s, mid-30’s, and they were having a pretty hard time then.

A lot of times no food and a lot of disease come through there. It killed a lot of people off.

A lot of his family. Are still -- they’re buried over there. And the last of his family moved to Tanacross. His mom and dad and a couple brothers I think, and a sister.

One moved to Tetlin or Northway. Northway.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And do you know why they moved?

CECIL MARTIN: Because of the disease -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: Because of the disease.

CECIL MARTIN: And this hard time of food and stuff and weak -- kind of like too weak to go and hunt and things like that.

And they had that mission in -- missionary or whatever in Tanacross so they had a lot more help there.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And did your grandfather ever work for like -- like the Road Commission (Alaska Road Commission)?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, he’s -- there is a picture of him, too, on the Road Commission when he was like 19 years old they did the road to Chitina.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. CECIL MARTIN: And they did this Slana Road there, Nabesna Road.

And the Tok Cutoff, he worked on that. And all through here he surveyed I think all the way up to Delta I’m not sure -- I’m pretty sure -- something like that.

By then he was in this area, I guess, so he did the surveying and worked on this highway, too.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Did he ever talk about how the road had changed things?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, he did. How it brought a lot of disease through here and alcoholism and things like that.

It did change a lot cause of them reasons I’m pretty sure.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: What changes have you seen since you've lived here, Cecil? Everything changes.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. It's just not like it was. There's no one here. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Um.

CECIL MARTIN: You know, a lot of people moved out to Fairbanks and Anchorage, Wasilla.

Most of the people I grew up with aren’t even here -- no one, you know, and the last one is Clyde and Wayne.

They’re 10 years older than me, but, you know, I was one of the youngest ones out of all of them -- youngest boy anyways.

And all of them were older than me. I’m the only one in my age group besides one girl that grew up here.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Um.

CECIL MARTIN: Everyone’s gone. Everyone moved away.

But yeah, it's changed a lot. There ain’t as much unity as there used to be back -- back in the 70’s and 80’s, you know.

They don’t even have a Thanksgiving dinner or anything anymore here.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Do anything for Christmas?

CECIL MARTIN: I’m not sure. We usually go to Tanacross. I’ve -- I’ve been going down to Mentasta a lot for the holidays lately.

When my brother was living down there, we’d always go down there cause lately they haven’t been doing much here, you know.

I don’t even think they open the gym anymore.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: What did people do in the gym when they did open it?

CECIL MARTIN: Play basketball.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So, basketball. We were talking about basketball on the way here.

CECIL MARTIN: With the group home gone, too, that's been a big difference. There used to be a group home up here, and they’d have kids from all over the state come in.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Do you remember when that closed?

CECIL MARTIN: In the early 90’s, maybe.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay. So when you were -- when you were in school -- CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: There'd be all these other kids. BARBARA CELLARIUS: -- the school was bigger.

CECIL MARTIN: I think -- No, it might have been the mid-90’s something like that.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: It was right here in Dot Lake?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, just right up here. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Past Miller Avenue. That big building there in the open field.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

CECIL MARTIN: Right there. There'd be kids from all over the state used to come through here.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So basketball was the unifying play --

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, it used to be hockey. All these villages, every one of these villages had ice and hockey rinks.

I can remember lights being on in Mentasta until three or four in the morning back in the 70’s and kids would be skating all over up there and then they come through and built all these mid-size gyms, you know.

And after they built all of the mid-size gyms they don’t even have ice anymore, you know. No hockey rinks, nothing. It's all basketball now.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: It's interesting. That change.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: We were talking about it and how basketball is so big and, you know, when did it sort of change from hockey in -- I mean --

CECIL MARTIN: Probably around the 80’s. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

CECIL MARTIN: Mid-80’s when they built them small gyms. Cause every -- all these villages now got a gym, you know, so --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: You don’t have to play hockey at minus 20.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So who were in the group home then?

CECIL MARTIN: Huh? LESLIE McCARTNEY: Who'd be in the group home?

CECIL MARTIN: It started off as one done -- Fred Vogler that used to be down by the Dot Lake Lodge. It was years ago before my time. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: And then Carl Charles, Clyde’s parents, and his wife ran it for a while up there.

And there's an old couple named -- I think their last name were Borne. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: I don’t even remember their first names. And then it went to -- I forget.

I know that the Deiters -- Gary and -- Jeff’s parents used to run it and there's a guy named Bud I remember used to run it.

Oh, Paul Ford and his wife Tanya used to run it. I think they take two week shifts and switch off.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Was it associated with any kind of organization or was it more like private --

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, it’s through the Tri Church, I think. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Ah.

CECIL MARTIN: And I think there's a Tri Church from North Pole and a couple other communities that own the place.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Another thing we've been talking about in Tetlin and Tanacross was that people used to have gardens.

CECIL MARTIN: Oh, yeah. I don’t see any of that around here anymore. Cindy and Ivan did. I haven’t seen them do it lately though.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: When you were a kid, did people have gardens?

CECIL MARTIN: Oh, yeah. Down here Maggie Isaac used to right across the street from her place and Doris Charles and Cindy Charles used to have a garden down there.

The group home had one. I think Jeff and them still do.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So it wasn’t like a big community garden?

CECIL MARTIN: Uh-uh. It was just a -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: Separate gardens. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Individuals?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right. But yeah, gardening seemed to be pretty big at one time.

CECIL MARTIN: Yep.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. Huh. So any other stories about your grandfather cause you were --

CECIL MARTIN: Not really. He used to just talk about how they used to dry fish, cut fish to make it through the winter.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: They taught you all that?

CECIL MARTIN: Uh-huh.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Mostly whitefish or both --

CECIL MARTIN: Salmon. BARBARA CELLARIUS: -- or salmon?

CECIL MARTIN: I think they mostly got their whitefish from different villages. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Like Mentasta and places like that.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So what was your job at fish camp?

CECIL MARTIN: Huh? LESLIE McCARTNEY: What was --

CECIL MARTIN: To empty the fishwheel and make sure it was enough water for it and stuff like that -- hang fish for him.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Firewood?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, firewood, drinking water, steam bath, things like that. Guard, bear watch.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Were there much -- did you have much problems with bears at the fishwheel?

CECIL MARTIN: Na -- they never bothered us cause they’re, you know, they pretty much got all their fish they ever needed so they never really bothered us.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: There's plenty for everyone.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. The past couple years I've gone down there and I store my stuff in a barrel, you know, and just MRE’s and odds and ends.

It's gotten into that, but that’s before the fish even got there so. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Um.

CECIL MARTIN: He doesn’t bother me when we're there though. They don’t even come around.

Pretty much stay out on the creek I think where all the fish go in there.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So do you make fish camp down there do all this? CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Still? CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Who helps you? Because you need a lot of help at fish camp.

CECIL MARTIN: I’ve been going down there by myself.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Really. CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. A couple times I took my nephew and I took this guy Jake Luke with me, but

usually I just haul all the fish back here and take care of it. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Um.

CECIL MARTIN: Give it away. But one day I’m going to be down there and jar fish and build an enclosed smoker and do all that right there.

Hopefully, put up a cabin.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Just a little fish shack -- our fish camp shack, you know.

Somewhere I can go in 40 below and build a fire and just hang out.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: I know you said there's not many people left in town, but do other people still go out and do fish camp?

CECIL MARTIN: Nope, not that I know of -- not from here.

They all go to Valdez and other places.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Easier. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Not so many ties to Batzulnetas?

CECIL MARTIN: No, which is a shame cause their grandmother fought for fishing rights for years with --

right alongside of Katy John and now that they got 'em they don’t even utilize it.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: They can’t drive their motor homes down there, I guess, something like that. I don’t know.

You have to ask them, but it's probably better that way cause more peaceful. The less people the better.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Now your mom grew up down that way, too, so --

CECIL MARTIN: No, my mom grew up in Tanacross.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: In Tanacross, right.

CECIL MARTIN: Yep, she was born and raised there. Then they moved here.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. A big area.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So when you go down that way now, do you notice like differences in the weather or the landscape or anything like that, Cecil?

CECIL MARTIN: Not really. It can get pretty miserable down there on the side of the river believe me, man.

There's a lot more growth, you know. It used to be all flat and clear, but, you know, you could see for miles down the side of that river back when there was a village there, but now it's all grown up.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: All the willows?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, the trees, everything. You can’t see like they used to.

My grandpa said that Old Nicoli would walk from Chistochina and he’d be coming to Batzulnetas and they could see him walking across the Slana River that’s how far down the river they could see. And he was like close to seven foot so --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Wow!

CECIL MARTIN: That -- that Slana River would barely come up to his waist, you know.

But yeah, you used to be able to see for miles they said around there, but not no more.

I notice they do a lot of fly-in hunting over here in this Boomerang Lake area. (Phone ringing) I notice airplanes landing out there.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Is it big game hunting then impacting -- CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: How has that impacted -- ?

CECIL MARTIN: It's hard to say 'cause there's still a lot of moose in this area I notice, you know.

Every year I could sure pretty much guaranteed down there. Because of the -- right behind there there's that swamp area.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: And they like that place there so as long as there's cows in there you walk down that trail you see cow moose tracks every time, you know, back and forth, so

it's pretty much guaranteed to be a bull around then.

I've seen moose sign all -- every time I go down there I see moose sign.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Do you see evidence of other animals?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, wolves, bears, porcupine.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Lynx, too? You were talking about trapping lynx earlier, so lynx?

CECIL MARTIN: That’s mainly in this area. Hav -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: That’s it.

CECIL MARTIN: I haven’t really seen any lynx track. A lot of birds, willow grouse and ptarmigan . And bears.

See a lot of bear sign, wolf signs, probably -- mainly -- probably the wolves are all over over there.

When the caribou come through they follow the caribou.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Did I hear you right earlier, did -- you said the caribou came one time and there was thousands and thousands of them. For a while they didn’t come through there?

CECIL MARTIN: I’m sure they always have. It's just -- There's no open season for them over there in the park.

There are no federal open season, I don’t think.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah, there's no season.

CECIL MARTIN: There is over here in the Wildlife Refuge.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. CECIL MARTIN: It's the same caribou, I’m sure. They come through and cross over into there.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Do people here go caribou hunting then?

CECIL MARTIN: Huh? Yeah, they go up on the Taylor (Highway). LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Not very much so I don’t think.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Not as much as it used to be or just --

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, it's not as much as it used to be.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Is it more moose? What people are getting these days?

CECIL MARTIN: Yep, more moose. Pretty much.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And you can get those closer to Dot Lake?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, this is -- this flat back here is a -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Pretty much prime moose country and going down this way here to -- towards Sand Creek there that boat landing. They cross all over in there.

Then this flat goes all the way up towards Jan Lake. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: You know, it’s just -- they come off the mountain back and forth.

I seen a lot of sign up that way, too, this year -- both ways actually.

I was wishing I would have went down there though.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And are there fish in Dot Lake?

CECIL MARTIN: Um -- yeah, there's fish out there. There is grayling, burbot, I think, and pike.

There might even be Dollies (Dolly Varden), too, or trout. I’m not sure. I haven’t fished in that lake for years.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Does anybody go fishing out there?

CECIL MARTIN: I don’t think so. I used to go back this creek here back behind on that flat. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Behind the tree line and catch grayling back there.

It's all beaver dammed up so they have a hard time getting all the way up here.

He's got a lot of stories of this area though -- hunting and trapping in this area.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Who, Brady?

CECIL MARTIN: My grandfather. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh, your grandfather.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Gene.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right. What were some of his stories in this area?

CECIL MARTIN: They used to caribou hunt a lot.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Up there above Tanacross and Mansfield Village.

They’d shot 30 or 40 at a time. And they’d sit up there on a big hill and they’d built a smoke, you know, and as soon as the people of the village those older -- Titus Isaac and Walter Isaac and them,

their wives, soon as they see that smoke they’d pack up their dogs, kids, everything. It was like the whole village would go up there.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Smoke signals.

CECIL MARTIN: And they'd just stay there and dry it all and make their cache right there for the winter.

In wintertime they’d get low on food, they’d run up there and grab it.

He said back in the day of the big kills Sixtymile Butte, but you can’t see it on these maps, but it's Sixtymile Butte, but they called it big hill.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: That’s when we heard --

CECIL MARTIN: He said back in the day --Yeah, right here.

He said back in the day when caribou came over that hill, it was just like you pulled a hide over it. There would be so many of them, just thousands of them.

He's gone all the way up in here to the Mosquito Fork and then come back out on Billy Creek. They’d hunt wolves cause there was a bounty on wolves back then. That’s --

He’d -- he'd go all the way up there packing Brady three-fourths of the time probably when he was a little boy.

But they had a bounty on wolves so they’d always go up there and that’s how they controlled the wolf population, and I think they got fifty bucks a pup and so much for the bigger ones.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So it was a way he made money, too?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, plus they put money in their pocket.

But, yeah, he's gone all through over in here all up to Mount Fairplay. He's hunted over in Mount Fairplay behind it all up in the Mosquito Fork, Kechumstuk.

Probably all the way to the Healy Lake area. too, I’m sure. Sand Creek, he used to trap up here.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And did he talk at all about how they hunted caribou? How they got so many caribou all at once?

CECIL MARTIN: They’d shoot them.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: There'd be more than just him, you know. There'd be a --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So they just had a big group of people.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. BARBARA CELLARIUS: And that herd came through they’d just shoot a bunch of 'em?

CECIL MARTIN: That’s back when -- they had firearms by then.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. Because I've also heard about fences.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, they used to use -- that’s before they had guns though.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay, that was before -- before his time.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. He didn’t move up in here until -- Tanacross until probably the mid-1930’s, a little later.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. Because he started -- CECIL MARTIN: Late 1930’s, yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: He started out at Batzulnetas?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. They used to walk all the way to Tanacross from Batzulnetas.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Gosh. Those trails still usable, Cecil?

CECIL MARTIN: I doubt it. It's so grown over, you know.

He's hunted sheep all up in these mountains here above Tanacross, up Sheep Creek, up Your Creek, up Cathedral Rapids. They used to go up there and hunt sheep all the time.

He’d take Andrew Isaac and Moses Thomas, he said, and Abraham Luke and hunt sheep.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Did he hunt until he was quite a good age then, Cecil.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, he was. He used to road hunt. He used to go down to Gulkana and him and his -- he’d take one of his relatives out towards Paxson and hunt caribou.

He's a crack shot. Never miss. Very rarely. Well, you couldn’t back then.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So you were talking about the cache up on the hill, that would basically be the whole town then I suppose?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, they probably made more than one, you know.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

CECIL MARTIN: They probably buried it, you know, along with berries and whatever else they collected.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, while they were there.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Did your grandmother do a lot of berry picking then before she died?

CECIL MARTIN: I’m not sure. She’s --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: It was so long ago.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, she's -- she was the baby of the family and she died at -- she was only 31 years old when she died.

My mom was only six months old, so --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Do you remember your mom doing a lot of berry picking in the summertime?

CECIL MARTIN: Mostly my grandfather.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Really.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, he always picked berries.

He did a lot of carvings, too. He carved spoons and diamond willow and --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: I have a picture of him carving a bowl.

CECIL MARTIN: Bowls and plates and stuff like that. Just a hobby to pass time mainly, I think.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Too much alone time around here, you know. It kept him busy.

Put a couple extra bucks in his pocket.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Sounds like he was a wonderful man.

CECIL MARTIN: I think he had still had dogs when he moved to Tanacross. I’m pretty sure cause even here -- even when he moved here I’m not sure what year it was, but I think he still had dogs -- dog team when he was living here.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Did he ever talk about using pack dogs or just with a sled?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, they used pack dogs all the time.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Brady was telling me he was a little boy when he went up this here hunting wolves they ended up at Mitchell's Ranch.

And he said he was just a little boy 10 years old and they were taking a break and they shot a moose and dried it.

And they put it in their pack dogs and he got to Mitchell's Ranch and he said man that place was spic and span.

Every dish was clean and everything, and he went out to that stable or barn or whatever it was he's monkeying around and he seen all these old bridles and leather harnesses and stuff and they had to time to kill so

he went and showed his dad and he went and looked and they seen a lot them they could seen were unusable and stuff so they took it and they --

they used it to make harnesses and fix up their dog packs and stuff.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So do you know what Mitchell's Ranch was? Was it --

CECIL MARTIN: It was an old -- probably a mining ranch I’m thinking, because of the gold that was all found in the Mosquito Fork area.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: None of your family worked in any of the mines or anything like that, Cecil?

CECIL MARTIN: I don’t think so. No, he just -- he did a lot of work for BLM like firefighting. That’s before it became forestry.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. CECIL MARTIN: That and with the Road Commission -- the highway -- working on the highway.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: And after all the highways were built, I think was when he went to BLM.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And what year did he pass away?

CECIL MARTIN: In ’07, I believe, yeah -- 2007.

They used to go up here to Fish Lake, too, and hunt caribou up there and moose up in the base of the mountain here. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Huh.

CECIL MARTIN: McComb Plateau area.

He trapped up all around Jan Lake. He trapped the flat here on that ridge. He had a line on the base of this pipeline hill here. He had a trapline up there, too.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: It’s amazing how mountainous it gets when you get over there.

Here’s Dot Lake here.

CECIL MARTIN: Right here’s McComb Plateau.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Berry Creek -- so right here is Fish Lake.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay. CECIL MARTIN: They'd go all the way up in there and hunt caribou on the Knob Ridge here.

And they’d hunt moose up there, too.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So is that sort of after he moved to Dot Lake?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: When he was living here, Cecil, was it a lot of people that lived here? You said there's only 25 so --

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah, there's a lot more than there is now. There's a lot of more elders. They all passed on though.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Pretty much all of them.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And what made this place a special place to -- to settle in?

CECIL MARTIN: Probably because of the abundance of animals, you know, and this big flat here. There's probably a lot of good hunting. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Probably a lot of good trapping. There was good trapping. I remember when I was a little boy he was always bringing something back.

He brought back a lot of lynx, I know that. Some wolves, wolverine, marten, fox.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: What did you do with the furs?

CECIL MARTIN: He sold them. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: He’d sell them.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Do you know where -- where he sold them?

CECIL MARTIN: Pretty much I think his main fur buyer was Dave James out of Northway.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay.

CECIL MARTIN: I can remember him always coming by when I was a little boy. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: And buying -- buying -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: So James would come here?

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Ah.

CECIL MARTIN: He'd come here and buy his fur. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Did he just sell furs basically -- ?

CECIL MARTIN: As an income, you know, to help out.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So did anybody else who lived here in Dot Lake have any connections with the Wrangell St. Elias area that you know of them, Cecil?

CECIL MARTIN: Um -- his sister Dora -- Doris Charles.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Oh, Doris is his sister.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. His cousin really, but they’re like sisters.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay. But I had -- had never known --

CECIL MARTIN: Same family. They were raised by their grandmother -- raised them up.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: I had never made that connection. I knew it was Doris and Jane.

CECIL MARTIN: Yeah. They were just like brother and sister, you know, it was like same family.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So she had lots of connections there, too. CECIL MARTIN: Uh-huh.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Because they grew up together. CECIL MARTIN: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah, yeah.

CECIL MARTIN: Their grandmother raised them up until their grandmother passed away, you know, and once after their grandmother passed away they went back to their parents when they were probably 10, 12 years old, something like that.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. CECIL MARTIN: She was older than him.

I’m not sure how much older.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And was she from -- CECIL MARTIN: Like 10 years. Yeah, she was from -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: She was from --

CECIL MARTIN: Batzulnetas, yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: There? Uh-huh.

CECIL MARTIN: Right now I don’t think any of 'em utilize the place.

They give them pretty much people that go down there a right to use her land as a fish camp to, you know, keep it going.

Cause that’s her land right there where the fishwheel is at. Ours is farther down the river than that.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So your fishwheel is on Doris’ --

CECIL MARTIN: That’s not mine. It belongs to the -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: The figure that -- the fishwheel that --

CECIL MARTIN: The one we use, yeah, it's right on her land there.

That was right where my grandfather’s mom and dad and them had a house and his brothers and stuff.

And my grandfather’s land is just a hundred yards down river from that.

One day I'm going to put a fishwheel down there though. Out on the sandbar, I think.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. CECIL MARTIN: If I can get something. Stake it down good enough.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: We have a minute left. I can change the tape or we can wrap up if -- Whatever you like to do.

CECIL MARTIN: That’s fine.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Okay. Well, thank you, Cecil.

CECIL MARTIN: Uh-huh.