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Daisy Northway

Daisy Northway was interviewed on August 7, 2014 by Leslie McCartney and Barbara Cellarius at her home in Tok, Alaska. In this interview, Daisy talks about her mother, Ellen Felix Demit, her childhood and growing up in a subsistence lifestyle at Healy Lake, Big Gerstle, and Dot Lake. She also talks about changes in the landscape and climate, her work as tribal administrator for the Northway Tribal Council, and her beading activities.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2013-14-12

Project: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Date of Interview: Aug 7, 2014
Narrator(s): Daisy Northway
Interviewer(s): Leslie McCartney, Barbara Cellarius
Transcriber: Sue Beck
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

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Growing up

Living a subsistence lifestyle

Parent's background and changes at Healy Lake

Dot Lake and going to school

Work at the Fortymile Roadhouse

Moving to Northway and getting married

Fishing and hunting to feed family

Children and grandchildren

Beading and sewing

Learning subsistence skills and values

Changes in the landscape

Changes in the climate

Changes in the community of Northway

Her mother, Ellen Felix Demit

Working for the tribal council

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LESLIE McCARTNEY: So today is August 7th, 2014, and we’re in Daisy and Harold Northway’s home just outside of Tok. Thanks, Daisy, for having us. And Barbara Cellarius is here; and I’m Leslie McCartney.

So, Daisy we were just going to start off if you could tell us a little bit about yourself -- where you were born, who your parents were.

DAISY NORTHWAY: I was born in the village of Healy Lake and my parents are Frank and Ellen Felix.

And I -- in the late ‘40s my mother and dad moved us out of Healy Lake and relocated us to -- first of all the Big Gerstle, where they had temporary shelters for us to live in.

The people that came out of Healy Lake at that time, I believe there was, like, maybe ten people. I’m not entirely sure, but at least ten people.

And those were the survivors of the epidemic that had hit Healy Lake during those early years of -- of the ‘40s.

I think we stayed there -- and I was very, very young when it happened, so I’m not sure of the details, but we must have been there for under a couple of years, and then from there -- from there on we -- we moved down to the Little Gerstle.

And I believe we stayed there 'til I was at least four or five. And then by that time, there were people that were around during those years that worked for the Alaska Road Commission that told my mother that us children or that, you know, at least myself -- my sister is twelve years older than me, so she was still school age. And they -- my mother was told that we had to attend school.

So at the age of six, I started school in Dot Lake. So I figure we moved there, probably prior to that time. Maybe four and a half, five, because that’s where my father died as well, in Dot Lake after he became ill.

So from the time I started first grade through the eighth grade, I remained in Dot Lake. And attended school here in Tok for a short time.

Then my mother, you know, on the death of my father became a single parent, so she had to look around -- lookin’ for work and stuff to support us children.

So while we remained in Dot Lake during the winter months for our school, our summer months were spent up at the Fortymile Roadhouse from the time I was eight years old until I was about twenty-one when I left there. So that’s my childhood.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And did your mum, because she was a single mum, did she have, like, maybe a rabbit snare line or something like that to help feed people?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yes. My father became ill while we were livin’ in Little Gerstle. And, yes, we lived a pure subsistence lifestyle. My mother went out and hunted and fished and did whatever she could to support -- to support us.

My -- like I said, there was an older sister who is -- who is still alive today. She’s, like, twelve years -- I would say eleven and a half years older than I am, and then I had a younger brother who has since then passed.

Uh-huh, but he was, I would say, maybe a year or so younger than I am. So I don’t know what she did, you know, back in the day for, like, you know, milk and stuff.

I’m sure there was places where they could get those things. But we lived purely a subsistence lifestyle.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Mm-hm. Must have been a lot of work for her. DAISY NORTHWAY: Uh-huh. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Did you have any aunts or uncles around you, or was it pretty much your mom and the kids?

DAISY NORTHWAY: There were, I believe, another family there in Little Gerstle.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: The epidemic that came through Healy Lake that you had to leave, was that the flu?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I -- you know, I can’t remember at the moment. I know what it is. It’s not diphtheria or anything like that, but there was something, and I forget --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Scarlet fever? DAISY NORTHWAY: It’s a -- Uh-huh. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah? Scarlet fever.

DAISY NORTHWAY: It killed a number of people. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right. DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And then you -- you said your dad had been sick. What was he -- what was --?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I -- you know, I’m not really sure of, you know, my dad. What, you know, he may have had a heart attack or something that caused him to become paralyzed from waist down.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh, dear. Right. Gosh. So did -- I guess because you were goin’ to school, you guys didn’t get out on the -- did you get out on the land a lot to go -- did your mom have a trapline too or anything, or was it mostly subsistence that she did?

DAISY NORTHWAY: No, not while -- while we were growing up in Dot Lake, I don’t recall my mother ever having a trapline, because by then, you know, she worked over at the -- the lodge and other places and was able to bring in a little bit of money, so that we were able to have, you know, store-bought food.

But the little village that I came from, you know, everybody helped each other out. And, you know, there was a family there, Peter Charles and his family, and they always took Mom with them when they went hunting and -- and then, of course, if some of us kids as we got older went down on the Copper with them to get salmon and things.

So, you know, we still ate wild game. Beaver and any -- anything that was caught in the village it was always shared.


BARBARA CELLARIUS: So did you go to the Charles fishcamp? Was that -- do you remember where that was on the Copper?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I don’t think they actually had a fish camp. They just went down there. It wasn’t -- I don’t think it was Copper actually. It was Chistochina. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay.

DAISY NORTHWAY: And it was close to Jerry Charlie’s dad’s camp.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay, Walter Charlie. DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. Not Walter Charlie.


DAISY NORTHWAY: That wasn’t his name.


DAISY NORTHWAY: Frank Charlie, mm-hm. But we were -- I don’t think we were teenagers then, you know. I remember we -- we went down there with them, and when they got fish, got back to the village, and he shared with everyone.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And so you learned to cut fish and everything? DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Do you dry fish and -- ? DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. Yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. DAISY NORTHWAY: Yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Just like being there.

DAISY NORTHWAY: Everybody had to learn that back in the day. Life wasn’t easy, you know. We knew how to -- we were out in the woods carrying guns when we were, like, eight years old shootin’ rabbits and stuff and, you know, uh-huh. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

DAISY NORTHWAY: Had to learn how to skin it.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Mm-hm. And how to cook it? DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. So did you ever go down further towards Wrangell-St Elias Park that way or were you mostly --?

DAISY NORTHWAY: No, I personally never did.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. How many people lived in Healy Lake then, just -- do you know before the epidemic came? And did that -- what moved the entire town out?

DAISY NORTHWAY: You know, I -- I would have to look at some information I have. I don’t, you know -- I don’t remember -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

DAISY NORTHWAY: -- you know, how many. All I know is that, you know, Healy -- Healy Lake was a big village. It had a lot of families, and when my moth -- my parents left, they did -- they had a mass burial, five people at one time, you know, and that was the last act that they did before they left the village.


DAISY NORTHWAY: And I don’t really, you know, remember, you know. Maybe Joanne Polson, who is, you know, Chief Healy’s granddaughter would -- would have a little bit more information on that. I -- I don’t know, you know.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Were both your mum and your dad from that area, too?

DAISY NORTHWAY: No, actually my dad came from Kechemstuk area. Mansfield? My grandparents are buried up -- up by Dihthaad but I don’t know where, you know.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And your mum’s --

DAISY NORTHWAY: My dad died when I was very young, and I don’t have any memories of him at all, so --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And you don’t remember his parents were gone by then? DAISY NORTHWAY: No, uh-uh, no.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And what about your mum’s parents?

DAISY NORTHWAY: My mother actually came from the old village of Chena. She was adopted, uh-huh, into Healy Lake as a baby. And so she has -- you know, she never had any knowledge of her -- her relations. Her relations were the people who adopted her. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

DAISY NORTHWAY: And so that’s who I know. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. DAISY NORTHWAY: Uh-huh.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah, definitely. And Dot Lake how many -- was Dot Lake a fairly large community when you were growing up there?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I think there was -- let me see if I can remember. There’s the Charles’s -- Sorry. LESLIE McCARTNEY: That’s okay.

DAISY NORTHWAY: I th -- I’m not sure, but I know that the primary family was the Charles’s and there were the Lukes, then my mother, Felix, then Chief Andrew Isaac and his wife, and then Grandma Bessie Walter and her son.

So I would say, and -- and, you know, I stand to be corrected here, six to seven families.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh. And they had a school obviously, 'cause you went there.

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yes, they had a school.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right. And where -- where did your teachers come from? Were they local teachers or they brought in --?


BARBARA CELLARIUS: And then you talked about your mom going up to the Fortymile Roadhouse. Until you were twenty-one?

DAISY NORTHWAY: She worked there for a lot longer. That’s when I left there.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: That’s when you left. Did you ever work there, or was it just your mom?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yes, I did. I did. Mm-hm. Until I was twenty-one.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And knew that it was time for you to move on!

DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. Then later on, I think I went back and worked for a few more years.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So what kinds of things did you do when you worked there?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I did everything. I cooked. I ironed. I cleaned. I --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Whatever needed to be done? DAISY NORTHWAY: Uh-huh. Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: I imagine that was a pretty busy place at the time.

DAISY NORTHWAY: Uh-huh. I fueled trucks, cars, checked oil.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: A lot of business passed through there.

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yeah. Uh-huh. Yeah, it was interesting. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Hm mm. DAISY NORTHWAY: Hm mm.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And then where did you go next?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I moved to Fairbanks, and then around and about, you know, us wild and wooly teenagers, you know how we get.

And I did other things and, you know, eventually I think -- I don’t remember. I moved back into this area, I think for a short time.

And then my mother and my stepfather at that time were living in the village of Northway, so I went up there. And shortly after that is when I met Harold, you know. Couple of years later we got married and --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And you lived in this area ever since you’ve been married then, Daisy?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. We lived in Northway for a while and then in -- in the ‘70s, I think it was 1973 when we moved back.


LESLIE McCARTNEY: And what was Northway like when you lived there?

DAISY NORTHWAY: What was like -- you know, I think it was a -- a good place to live. It was, you know, quiet and people, you know, warm -- truly did care for each other and to help each other.

You know, there were other things that went along with, you know, my life there, but I don’t care -- care to discuss that part of it.

But, you know, they -- you know, at that time I -- I remember going down to the old fish camp there at -- at fish camp and fishin’ and that kind of stuff and, you know --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Did you go out hunting there around Northway or did Harold?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Oh, I personally never did. I’m not much of a hunter. You know, outside of when we were kids and it was fun to go out and shoot rabbits and get fish and stuff, but, you know, I don’t know,

I -- I just married and I figure that’s what husbands are for, you know. And I have sons, you know, and so I think they meet my needs so I don’t have to go out carryin’ a gun anywhere or have to shoot anything -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

DAISY NORTHWAY: -- to get myself food.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. Is Harold originally from Northway?


LESLIE McCARTNEY: That’s why his name is Northway. DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: But do you still fish and put up fish?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yes, I do. That’s necessary. We get fish from the Copper River. We have friends that, you know, give us fish. And so we do this every year. We can jars and jars of fish.

And we share those with some of the children that, you know, like one that lives out in Wisconsin that doesn’t get salmon.

So we, you know, send couple cases or someone goes out and we send. Dried meat and, you know, the things that they like.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So Harold must still hunt then or do you get --? DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. Yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah?


LESLIE McCARTNEY: So you get moose meat that way and caribou? DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. Yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

DAISY NORTHWAY: We don’t eat much caribou. I don’t like caribou and neither do my children. And so --


DAISY NORTHWAY: Moose and fish.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right. Any of them trap beaver or muskrat or anything like that?

DAISY NORTHWAY: No. I -- I think throughout the years, you know, because of where and how I grew up as a child; I think, you know, we had to eat what was put in front of us.

It was between, I think, starvation and whatnot. And so throughout the years I think, you know, because my mother started working and stuff, I -- I felt like I had a choice in what I could eat and so, while I eat fish and moose meat and moose stomach, fish stomach, and all that stuff, still there’s some stuff that I -- I just absolutely cannot.

You know, I eat duck maybe once a year. That’s spring duck. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. But I’m, you know, I don’t -- it’s not consistent on my menu here at home.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So muskrat is not on the menu.

DAISY NORTHWAY: No. Yeah, you know, we ate all that stuff, you know, when we were kids growing up but somewhere in between then and here, here and now, I think, you know, the taste buds must change or maybe it’s psychological thinkin’ is that, you know, now we have a choice.

And if I don’t have to eat it, I don’t want it.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So are your boys still all local then, Daisy?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I have one in Wisconsin and the three that live here. Not here. One’s in Fairbanks and two here.


LESLIE McCARTNEY: So they’re still close by. DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. And they all went to school in the local area then?

DAISY NORTHWAY: They went to school here in Tok. Uh-huh.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. What’s the son in Wis -- Wisconsin do?

DAISY NORTHWAY: He’s a carpenter. Mm-hm. Yes. Yep.

He put himself through school and became a journeyman carpenter and has been one for the last twenty -- maybe fifteen, twenty years.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And you got lots of grandchildren by -- nearby?

DAISY NORTHWAY: No, not really. I have a total of eight grandchildren, and I have, I think, four of them here. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Okay.


LESLIE McCARTNEY: When we came in you were showing us your sewing, so where -- when did you learn your beading and your sewing?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I think I was trying to put that together as I was thinking about the time when we left Little Gerstle and when we went to Dot Lake.

I’m not sure exactly whether -- whether I was five or -- must have been five because -- no, I must have been six because, you know, we started school in Dot Lake that fall.

My -- my birthday is in December. So I must have been either five and a half or so when I started school. So, I remember very distinctly, I think, that I -- my mother was teaching me how to sew prior to the time that we moved to Dot Lake.

I remember, I think when -- and I don’t know why I remember this, but it was a heart made with all her mixed up beads, you know, because back in the day it was so hard to even get those kind of beads that we have today that we learned to use the scrap beads to sew.

So I -- I figure I must have been four or five when I did that. I only remember that because nowadays when you teach children how to sew and, you know, at that age you'd think they’d be very, very young.

And it’s such tedious work that I don’t think children nowadays have the patience, you know, to -- and back then we didn’t have what they have today: radios and games and stuff to distract us.

This is what we had to do. It was a matter of survival and teachin’ us life skills.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And they -- also you learned to sew fur then, too?

DAISY NORTHWAY: No, I -- I really don’t get into fur sewing so much. I -- I -- I do moccasins and I do gloves, but I can only do so many at a time because my allergies.


DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. But you know, I -- I think the focus here is on the use of --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Well, we’re also interested in -- in life. DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Sort of your life growing up more generally.

DAISY NORTHWAY: Uh-huh. Yeah, I remember my mother telling me stories about how her and Dad used to go from Healy Lake when everything was well. You know, how they used to go up into the Robertson River up into the mountains to go sheep hunting.

They did that by sled in the wintertime. And I don’t remember her ever saying anything about if they went any further beyond that point.

So, just a little extra information, but her and my dad did do a lot of traveling to fish and hunt -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

DAISY NORTHWAY: -- and that kind of stuff.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And then did they -- they bring the kids with them or did the kids stay back with other people?

DAISY NORTHWAY: There were, I think, many times when they took us, you know.

You know, back in the day, everybody took their kids everywhere, you know, you just taught them to be quiet out in the woods and, like, in the summertime when you go berry picking you teach your children to be quiet because, you know, noisy children will attract a bear.


DAISY NORTHWAY: Uh-huh. Because of the cubs and similar sounds. And we’re taught to be aware of our surroundings. To get up -- when you’re in the middle of the berry patch, you get up every now and then and look around you.

Hm mm. And to, you know, tell your children to be quiet. I take mine.


BARBARA CELLARIUS: You talked about going down to Chistochina to get to a fish camp. Did you ever go out the Nabesna Road? Or mostly down to Chistochina?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Mostly to Chistochina. Hm mm. I don’t recall going beyond that for, you know, in my lifetime.


LESLIE McCARTNEY: From the times that you were at -- at Dot Lake and Little Gerstle and everything, you’ve seen the landscape. Have things changed on the land or with the animals at all since you were young? Do you think of anything?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I don’t think the landscape changed so much. You know, maybe there’s more growth.

Like at the Big Gerstle, my mother pointed out to me, you know, as they left Healy Lake. You know, I guess if -- if you were coming east, it’d be on your right.

Somewhere back in there is where she said they -- they set up temporary shelters because one of the men who they brought out from Healy Lake was sick, but not from, you know, what killed the rest of the people in Healy Lake.

He was sick, so he died there, back there in this little camp. But there’s a lot of growth now, new growth over the years.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Like trees coming up?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yeah, and I -- a few years ago -- and I’ve been back to Healy Lake since then and I don’t think it’s changed so much. The old village itself -- now no one lives there in the old village.

It’s all grown up, you know, the -- some of the cabins are still there. My mother and dad’s cabin was still standing although the roof had fallen in, you know, but there was the old woodstove still in there that I seen and few pots and pans.

And, you know, I think somewhere I have the old washboard that my mother used, you know, that I brought back.


DAISY NORTHWAY: Hm mm. But Little Gerstle, I think, I’ve never been back there. I’ve been wanting to and I told my nephews that one of these days I’d like to go back in there, just to look at the little cabin that, you know, my dad built for us before he became ill.

My dad was also a carpenter, so during those years, you know, he worked. You know, he worked on the boat and, you know, by that time I think Delta was getting settled so he helped to build some of the older homes there in Delta.

So he was a carpenter and a sled builder. And that’s where a lot of the people learned how to build sled sto -- racing sleds. He was a good sled maker.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Wow. And it was racing sleds, not sleds for cargo?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yeah. And so Little Gerstle, I think, also is grown up. I don’t know, you know, I think you might have to have four-wheelers. I don’t think that it’s drivable all the way down in there.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And what about changes in the climate?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I was tryin’ to think of that one day. I remember -- I don’t know if -- and, you know, there again I could be wrong, but as we were kids growing up in Dot Lake, I don’t -- I didn’t recall it being as windy as it is today.

Because sometimes in the winter months you drive and it’s so windy, you know, and I -- I couldn’t for the life of me remember whether it was that way or not. I know that it was in the earlier years of my life.

There was extreme cold. You know, but it was up in this area, as well. I think that the weather pattern sorta changed.

I would say late ‘70s, ‘80s, where I think I remember -- sounds like I’m rattling, but --


DAISY NORTHWAY: Anyway, I remember the very last cold that we had when we were living in Northway. It -- it hung in there for a long time, and I remember this because, you know, it was coming up on Christmas and we didn’t even have a Christmas tree yet.

We hadn’t bought any gifts for the children. And my husband and his cousin were sent out to cut wood for some of the elderly people in the village, because the airport lodge had one vehicle that could run. It was in their garage and it could go out to the woodyard.

And so the owner made sure that the elders had wood to keep warm.

But I think I remember it hung in there for a long time because we didn’t even go to Anchorage until, like, a couple days before Christmas and were able -- and then I bought an artificial tree and we’ve had one since then.

And so I think, you know, although we’ve had some cold weather, I don’t think that it’s lasted more than three weeks at a time since then. And back then I think it was so cold. I think what they say was probably hitting seventy wind chill factor.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah, that’s cold. DAISY NORTHWAY: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah. How long did the trip to Anchorage take back then?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Probably not as long, because, you know, I mean I think it’s the same kind of. We had a nice car and the roads -- the roads weren’t terribly bad, so I would say from Northway to Anchorage -- well, it takes us six hours from Tok to Anchorage now. So I would say a good eight hours maybe.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: But something you could do maybe in a day?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm, yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Did you go to Anchorage very often?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I think, you know, when we lived in Northway, this -- for some reason it was easier to go to Anchorage than it was to go to Fairbanks. I don’t -- I don’t know why that is.

But we went more to Anchorage than we did Fairbanks.


LESLIE McCARTNEY: Hm. So when you were down in Northway, it must have -- was it a fairly large community then?


DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. There was. Yes, there was. Mm-hm.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And fairly close-knit? People helped each other, like you were saying? DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And it’s got quite small now.

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. I think there, you know, there was still drinkin’ and stuff. But I -- I don’t think that it was as bad as it is nowadays, you know. And I’m not just saying Northway specifically.


DAISY NORTHWAY: It’s all villages.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. And when -- when did you notice a change in that, Dor -- Daisy, or has it just been a slow and gradual thing?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I think it’s been a slow and gradual thing, you know. You know other things came in, too, you know, drugs and, you know, the combination of both, you know, has -- is what destroyed a lot of our people.


That’s all my questions there. Did you teach your girls the beading?

DAISY NORTHWAY: No. She always thought it was too tedious. I tried.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Tried. Maybe the grandchildren will come and they’ll want to learn?

DAISY NORTHWAY: My -- my one granddaughter had the privilege of living with my mother, so she’s a very good beader. She can sew just like her grandmother when she sets her mind to doing it.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: How long did your mom live to then?


LESLIE McCARTNEY: How old was your mum when she passed away then?

DAISY NORTHWAY: She was ninety-five.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Really. And you said she remarried?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yes. She remained, I believe, single until I was, like, fifteen years old, then she remarried.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right. And then did she live back around the Tok area again?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. Yeah, she lived, you know, from Dot Lake to Fortymile.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah, right.

DAISY NORTHWAY: She worked there in Dot Lake for a long time. And I remember as a child we used to go to Fairbanks, I think, you know, (phone rings) somewhere along the line.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: You were saying your mom worked in Dot Lake.

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yeah. She worked in Dot Lake and, I don’t know -- I know that we went to Fairbanks. But, you know, I -- earlier I told you that she was adopted?


DAISY NORTHWAY: Uh-huh, so I think sometime in the prior years, I think she must have been either in her late twenties, early thirties, when her and her cousin-sister -- you know, in Indian our first cousins are our sisters --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Sisters, yeah.

DAISY NORTHWAY: Uh-huh. They found each other. Uh-huh. And her sister filled her in on information about the family that she came from and where my mother originally was born.

And so I think that’s kinda what started some of the trips into Fairbanks.

And she also told us that we stayed somewhere there in Delta. I think it’s past Delta out there on the flats where, you know, her aunt who had married a miner, you know, they had a house there. But I don’t recall any of those things.

All I know is that I remember some of the things in Fairbanks. Like we went -- we went back down to the old village of Chena, and I remember going across the river to check the fishwheel with her uncle, you know.

I remember those -- that story, but nothing -- nothing else.


LESLIE McCARTNEY: So she went back to Fairbanks because she had met more of her family there? DAISY NORTHWAY: Uh-huh.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And there was a reason to go?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yeah. Her biological family.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: -- family, right. That’s interesting. Yeah. DAISY NORTHWAY: Hm mm.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And then I met you when you were working with the tribal council in Northway. DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So how long did you work for the tribal council?

DAISY NORTHWAY: About ten years. I think it was just shy of ten years.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: When did you start working for them, Daisy?

DAISY NORTHWAY: In -- I wanna say 2002.


DAISY NORTHWAY: I’ve not worked now for, I think five years, about five years.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So what were -- what was your job or your duties when you were working for tribal council?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I was the tribal administrator.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So what issues of the day did you have to deal with in those ten years?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Everything. I said if I had any brains at that time, I would have not taken the job.


DAISY NORTHWAY: I mean it was an interesting job and it eventually -- I think, you know, towards the end of my time there I -- I think it became better. Better, you know. But, you know, village politics is what it is.

And sometimes it can be very, very trying. And, I think, a lot of tears on my part.

And finally, I think I decided that I was not there to please everybody and anybody. That I only could do the best that I could do. And after I decided that, then my thinking became a little bit better and I was able to cope better with the people -- some of the people who were so very negative about everything and anything that we did.

You know, I didn’t, you know, accomplish a whole lot of things, but what I did accomplish in my time there was that the whole place had been cleaned up. That they were grant-ready when I left.

They were able to -- you know, I reopened the doors to agencies that had closed their doors to Northway and I established -- what do you call, PR.


DAISY NORTHWAY: I was able to go back and talk to many of the agencies and just kinda reopen the doors to those agencies that worked with Northway previously.

We cleaned up old grant reports and, you know, one of the best moves that I made, I think, was to hire an outside bookkeeper who helped me in the final years of my time there. To help me clean up. She still works for them.

You know, I tell them every now and then that they should hang onto her for as long as they can, because, you know, she’s a -- she’s a good bookkeeper and she’s helped them out tremendously.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So when you went into the job, Daisy, did you have certain things that you wanted to accomplish in your time there?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yes. I -- I think, you know, like I said, Indian politics being what it is there was a lot of dissension.

I wanted to see the commun -- community come back together and to be able to work together and to hold each other up in all areas, you know, because I, you know, to me I have not -- haven’t lived there.

Like I said, we moved outta there in 1973. Personal reasons.

And at that time, I wasn’t really payin’ attention to village politics. I was focused on my work and trying to raise my children and keep a home.

So I was not focused or neither did I allow it to enter my life, you know, so it would not be a distraction to me. And my husband was involved. He was, you know, the chief of the village there for a time and was active in the beginnings of ANCSA as we know it today.

You know -- a lot of meetings that he had to travel to and stuff like that. But I just wanted -- I don’t know, maybe continuity of the good things as we understand it, maybe, or as we seen it previously.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: What happened then if it was there previously? What happened that that kind of all went away?

DAISY NORTHWAY: I’m not entirely sure. I’m not entirely sure, and I -- I guess I don’t want to open a can of worms.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Mm-hm. Okay. But you wanted to -- DAISY NORTHWAY: It's kinda hard a question, but -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: But -- but you wanted bring it back to -- DAISY NORTHWAY: To bring it LESLIE McCARTNEY: -- to back to what --

DAISY NORTHWAY: You know, I tried different things. You know, at Christmas time, you know, we had parties at the home where we had snacks and stuff and tried to encourage people to come in and make handmade ornaments for the community Christmas tree and that kind of stuff, you know. We tried to promote those kind of things.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And you feel that you’ve accomplished some of that?


LESLIE McCARTNEY: It’s very hard to -- to try and build that back up again.

DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. Yeah. You know, we worked -- some of the constitution had to be revisited, bylaws had to be updated, and all those things I think were accomplished.


DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. Maybe, you know, not the con--continuity of things but, you know, the important things were completed.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And the -- set -- set on the right track for that to maybe continue with someone else?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Hm mm. Like I said, they were grant-ready when I left.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right. And now you’re glad you’re retired from there?

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yes. Less stress. I am still very much involved in a lot of things. I haven’t given up, you know, going to meetings and keepin’ myself updated on the current events, you know.

And because I have a lot of people who call me still, you know, and ask for help, you know, because of my experience, you know.

Prior to working for Northway, before the United Crow Band closed down, I was there for ten years, as well. And I did a lot of social service work, so I -- I -- I knew, you know, and met a lot of people who meant anything to anybody.

I was a free agent, so I knew regulations and -- well, I guess I was jack of all trades, you know, master at none, but I knew enough to help people.


DAISY NORTHWAY: Open the doors and, you know, whatnot.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So you’re still down for meetings. You say you still go down and keep involved in the meetings?


LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. You on any boards or anything like that?

DAISY NORTHWAY: At the moment, I sit on the Interior Regional Housing Authority board and then I do some voluntary work for Interior Aleutians committee. I sit on their board as an elder representative. Hm mm.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: That's interesting.

DAISY NORTHWAY: And try to help out here and there. Wherever.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Sounds like you’re keepin’ busy.

DAISY NORTHWAY: Yeah, I like to keep busy. I -- I really don’t have a whole lot to do. I sew a lot, you know, because it’s what I do. You know, I enjoy doing it, so.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And you go to various craft sales to sell? DAISY NORTHWAY: Mm-hm. LESLIE McCARTNEY: And mar -- Yeah, bazaars? Yeah.

DAISY NORTHWAY: Hm mm. Me and my niece, my husband’s niece. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

DAISY NORTHWAY: We -- we go to bazaars together. Hm mm. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Hm.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: That’s all I had.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: That’s all I had. Is there anything else, Daisy, that you think we missed, that’s important for the stories of the communities?

DAISY NORTHWAY: No, I don’t think so. Sorry, I couldn’t be more helpful.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Oh! This was great. No, no! This was great. It’s great to -- to hear about your life growing up and some of the connections.


LESLIE McCARTNEY: So thank you very much, Daisy. We appreciate it. Thank you.