Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Cora Demit

Cora Demit was interviewed on April 22, 2015 by Leslie McCartney and Barbara Cellarius at the headquarters of the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge near Tok, Alaska. In this interview, Cora talks about her family background, her childhood, living at fish camp at Charlieskin, and the strong influence of her mother and grandmother. She talks about employment and education, and she also talks about history of use of the Nabesna and Northway areas for travel and trade routes, her Native values and traditions, lessons learned, and the importance of culture.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2013-14-16

Project: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Date of Interview: Apr 22, 2015
Narrator(s): Cora Demit
Interviewer(s): Barbara Cellarius, Leslie McCartney
Transcriber: Joan O'Leary
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
Slideshow
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Sections

Family background

Childhood, attending school. grandparents

Life at fish camp at Charlieskin

Siblings

Learning subsistence skills from her mother

Her grandmother and mother as strong women role models

Trading and traveling to Dawson City, Canada with dogs

Getting groceries for Charlieskin camp, and eating traditional foods

Speaking the Native language, going to school, and getting sick from the school food

Her husband, Glenn's training

Marrying Glenn Demit

Lessons learned by being raised by her mother and grandmother

Becoming an alcohol counselor

Working for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Native values, being proud, getting through hard times, raising a family

Returning to fish camp in later years

Changes in Northway

Learning from mother and grandmother and living in isolated fish camp

Relatives on her father, Albert Jimmie's side, and growing up without a father

Being disciplined as a child

Helping others

Health

Learning from other people and cultures

Carving and beadwork

Success of her children

Earning money, and helping elders

Family connection with Katie John and people of Mentasta

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Transcript

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Thank you, Cora, for being with us. Today we're with Cora Demit and we're at the Tetlin Wildlife Refuge Headquarters just south of Tok, right?

CORA DEMIT: Correct.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And we're here with Barbara Cellarius. I'm Leslie McCartney. Today's April 22, 2015. And again, I want to thank you Cora for talking with us. We've been trying to talk with you for a long time.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: You're busy. LESLIE McCARTNEY: You’re busy. Maybe we can just start off, we're really interested in -- in your family background and who your parents were and your grandparents and Glenn’s parents and grandparents and where you were born.

So if you can tell us a little bit about that.

CORA DEMIT: Well, actually I'm a lineage descendant of Tetlin, a small village just east of here. My grandparents are Big John and Jessie John, my great-grandparents.

My parent -- grandparents are Bill and Eliza Northway. And my parents are Andrew and Sarah Jimmie.

And my husband name is Glenn Demit, and his parents are Laura and Joe Demit. And I don’t know who his great-grandparents are.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So where were his parents -- where -- you said --

CORA DEMIT: They came from -- What's that place by -- ?

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Nabesna? Batzulnetas?

CORA DEMIT: Batzulnetas. They’re from Batzulnetas.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And when did they kinda move up this way?

CORA DEMIT: When Glenn was a very young age they moved to Northway. And my father, Andrew Jimmie, came from Nabesna area. He's a first cousin to Katie John.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And then -- CORA DEMIT: Their parent -- my mother -- my dad’s mother or dad is a brother to Katie’s father and mom.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So then how did he move up this way?

CORA DEMIT: They came from Nabesna to Northway just traveling.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Do you know, was there something in particular that brought them here?

CORA DEMIT: They hunted mostly. And in Northway area we don’t have salmon so they stayed down in Nabesna area for salmon and hunting, fishing, and trapping.

And then my dad migrated over to Northway for a job. Because in 1940 -- ’40 ’41 era, somewhere around there, they built that Northway Airport airfield. So he took a job there, so that’s how he end up there. For a job.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And so your parents must have met in Northway?

CORA DEMIT: They met in Northway. My grand -- my mother was born and raised in Tetlin. And I remember as a young child going to school in Tetlin myself. Kindergarten, first grade.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So when -- what year were your parents married then? Do you remember, Cora?

CORA DEMIT: Oh, my gosh. I can’t even remember. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Well, when was -- CORA DEMIT: 'Cause my oldest brother's 75. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh.

CORA DEMIT: So it had to be in that era somewhere.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And what's your birthday? When were you born? CORA DEMIT: 1946. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. What day and month? CORA DEMIT: Halloween. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Halloween. October 31st.

CORA DEMIT: I’m a good goblin.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So you were born in Tetlin? CORA DEMIT: No, I was born in Northway. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Northway? CORA DEMIT: I was born in Northway.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: But how did you end up going to school then in Tetlin? Were you just --

CORA DEMIT: When I was a young child, my mother and them were -- my mother and my dad they lived in Tetlin for a while and raised their children there.

And then when my dad took that job in Northway, they just kind of more or less moved that direction. And so did my grandmother and -- because my grandparent Bill Northway is the oldest brother Walter Northway. And he's originally from Northway, so that's where my grandmother settled down with him.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Um. And do you have memories of your grandparents at all?

CORA DEMIT: I don’t -- I don’t remember my grandfather very well. I know my mom remembered my mother and my grandmother because they're two ladies are the ones that raised me.

I lost my dad when I was three, so my mother raised five kids hunting, fishing, and trapping.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So she did all that?

CORA DEMIT: She did all that. We live in a small fishing camp, Charlieskin. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Hm-mm.

CORA DEMIT: That land belongs to my mother. 160 acres of it. So we have -- we have tent frames and stuff that I was raised in. We had no house. It was a frame log -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: Like a wall tent?

CORA DEMIT: Like wall -- wall tent frame lumbers and the top was tent. Wood stove, two beds. One for mom, one for grandma, and the kids slept on the floor.

And every morning when we get up we just roll our beddings up. That's where I was raised.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: All year round, Cora, or is it mostly summer?

CORA DEMIT: No. In wintertime, she would take us to Northway where we had a log house. One room dwelling log house. There again slept on the floor.

I went to Bureau of Indian Affairs school there in Northway at a very young age. After I came from Tetlin back to Northway.

And in April every year, first of April, she would take us out of school and take us back to Charlieskin to hunt, fish and trap. 'Cause in that first of April the muskrats and beavers and those stuff start coming out. So that's what she took us back for. LESLIE McCARTNEY: And she --

CORA DEMIT: Every April just right on the dot.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And did she teach -- she taught you how to hunt and trap, fish?

CORA DEMIT: At a very young age. I remembered I was carrying rifle around when I was seven, eight years old.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Now you said there was five of you, so you had an older brother? CORA DEMIT: I had an older brother. LESLIE McCARTNEY: And his name is? CORA DEMIT: Brady. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CORA DEMIT: And then there's me, and then my next brother. He was killed in a car accident in 1970. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh, he was? CORA DEMIT: And then -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: What was his name? CORA DEMIT: Ernie. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Ernie.

CORA DEMIT: And then my sister, Twyla, who lives in Fort Yukon. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. CORA DEMIT: And then my youngest sister, Florence, who lives in Northway right now.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So you were the oldest girl? CORA DEMIT: I was the oldest daughter, yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right. CORA DEMIT: And then my brother -- I just lost my brother in November of -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh, which brother? CORA DEMIT: Brady, my oldest brother. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh. And where did he live? CORA DEMIT: He lived in Northway. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Northway, too. Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.

CORA DEMIT: So that remains three of us, 'cause we lost a brother in a car accident in 1970.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: But being the second oldest and the oldest girl, your mom must have taught your -- your brother how to hunt and trap and fish, too.

And then you, and then did she teach you any of the things to do in the house and sewing, too?

CORA DEMIT: He did -- She did. At a very young age, she -- she was really strict. She -- she taught us how to cook, sew, hunt, fish, trap.

Everything she did we always kind of like followed her around 'cause she -- she set a good example because we watched, we learn hands-on.

Like if she wants us to cut fish, she’ll do it the first time and she expect you to do it. And we live right by the creek so the fish was abundant.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Did you have a fishwheel then or just nets? CORA DEMIT: No, we had dipnets. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Dipnets. CORA DEMIT: Uh-huh. And remember I lived in this one room building. It's very ancient.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So you were fishing for whitefish?

CORA DEMIT: Whitefish and pikes and suckers. And I think that's about it we have.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Did you smoke the fish then, Cora, for the winter?

CORA DEMIT: We cut and we smoke the fish. And sometimes she has underground freezers where she would store some of her fish and her berries and dried meat, dry fish and stuff 'cause we had cache, but it's too hot in the summer for that.

It was always root cellar stuff.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So she was collecting food for all of her family and then did she also have to feed her mom and other people, too?

CORA DEMIT: My mother -- my grandmother worked right along her. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Um.

CORA DEMIT: Uh-huh. And my grandma lived to be over a hundred plus years.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Really. CORA DEMIT: Uh-huh. She grew up with Walter Northway. She said they're about the same age. They played together, she said.

I lost my mom when she was 85. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Wow.

CORA DEMIT: That was pretty devastating, especially when you've only known the two figures in your life, 'cause mom never remarried and neither did my grandmother.

So the only two figures I ever knew was those two ladies. I never had a father, never had a grandma, and my mother's the only child.

So technically I don’t have aunties or uncles on her side. And our culture everything falls on your mother’s side.

And my dad has two brothers. I just lost a brother -- uncle in March. Oh, excuse me, no, no, February. And now I only have one uncle. In reality, that’s it, 'cause like I said, mom's the only child.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: That's very unusual that she was the only child.

CORA DEMIT: She was treated with royalty. LESLIE McCARTNEY: I can imagine. Very strong, strong role models, Cora. CORA DEMIT: Uh-huh. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Very strong women.

CORA DEMIT: My mother was very strict. She -- if she tell you to do something, she better not tell you again.

That's the kind of background she came from 'cause my grandparents’ siblings -- my grandma’s brother and sisters were strong people.

They came from strong family background, and then it just fell all the way down on that lineage, you know. '

Cause my grandmother was and my mom are very humble people. They just minded their business, stayed home, took care of the visitors and all that stuff.

Fed people that they don’t even know, and that's what they do. They like to do that. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

CORA DEMIT: And that's the kind of background that I came from. And I remember all that because I'm the oldest of the sisters, too. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

CORA DEMIT: And I thoroughly enjoyed my background, because my mom and grandma were very humble.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. Maybe we should just say for the purposes of the recording the name of the clan that you're with or the people that you're with.

CORA DEMIT: My -- my tribe is Ts' ikaak Yuu. And my husband’s tribe is Naltsiin. So we're two different opposite of each other. LESLIE McCARTNEY: And that's okay to marry? CORA DEMIT: It's okay to marry. Uh-huh.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Was your mom in an arranged marriage or your grandmother at all, do you know? CORA DEMIT: I don’t think they were. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Okay.

CORA DEMIT: I don’t think they were at that time. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Hm-mm.

CORA DEMIT: When my grandmother passed away, we buried her in a suit that my grandfather packed from Dawson City, walking. I think it took him about a week to get home, he said.

So when she was buried, I had it dry cleaned. I mean, when she passed away, I had it dry cleaned and that's what she was buried in.

It's a wool suit, can you imagine? Grandma kept it that long.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. And he walked from Dawson City back, why? Would he have been over looking for gold or -- ?

CORA DEMIT: Well, they go over to Dawson to get the dry goods. Flour, tea, coffee, and all that stuff. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Trading. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

CORA DEMIT: And they trade. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Trade, yeah. CORA DEMIT: Uh-huh.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: What did they trade for those goods? CORA DEMIT: They trade furs and stuff for their goods. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

CORA DEMIT: And my grandfather was an arm wrestler. LESLIE McCARTNEY: No? CORA DEMIT: So he won money and bought stuff with it.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So was that something that they traditionally did in the village? Arm wrestle?

CORA DEMIT: They do, yeah. They -- they did some sports and one of them was that arm wrestling. And he was really good at that. That's why, you know, he -- he won a lot of stuff for that.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So when they go over to Dawson to trade, would they -- they use a dog team to pack everything back? CORA DEMIT: They used the pack dogs. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Ah.

CORA DEMIT: They had these little pack saddle bags sort of on the dogs. And that's what they -- they take the dogs with them. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

CORA DEMIT: And sometimes the terrain is really rough. So sometimes, very rarely, they take dog teams.

Take weeks for them to come back. That's got to be rough.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah. And did you take dogs when you would go out to Charlieskin in the summer?

CORA DEMIT: Yes, we did. We had these pack dogs also. I remember them.

I mean we -- we -- Charlieskin to fish camp is about, oh, I want to say 15 miles, maybe. And we walk from Charlieskin to fish camp where Ada Galan and her family lives.

And then we bring the dogs over, and then all us ourselves we have backpacks.

And mom would trade her furs with a store here in Tok when I was a child. And the store was Gillam -- Gillam Store.

And mom would give him a list in her best handwriting 'cause she doesn’t read or write. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

CORA DEMIT: She would give the bus driver that went back and forth once a week on the Alaska Highway, give him that list and we all follow her. Walk, walk from Charlieskin to the highway. And she would tell him what she wanted for her furs.

It's a little grocery list 'cause I didn’t know how to read or write by then. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Hm-mm. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

CORA DEMIT: And so -- and then next week he say, "Okay, I’ll be back on that day." So we all go -- trip across the lake. Walk, carry our little handmade sled or our dogs and all of us have backpacks 'cause mom get groceries all the time.

So we meet him and here comes our groceries, and bless his heart that guy that owned the Gillam Store he used to put little candy bar or orange or apple in there. And we don’t know how to eat that kind of stuff.

Mom had five kids. She split it five ways. I used to savor mine just 'til the last.

So we load up these groceries on the dog packs, on the sled, on each and every one of us have packs.

And I used to sit by the trail and just cry because my pack was too heavy. Even if it's one can of something in there, it's too heavy 'cause you gotta walk -- you gotta walk, you know.

And mom says, "It's not heavy. Get up." In our Native language, 'cause she spoke in our Native language.

And we used to do that. Take it all home. And we used to love opening all these backpacks, unloading all our stuff.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And you were walking with snowshoes, I take it? CORA DEMIT: Sometimes we do. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. CORA DEMIT: Hm-mm. Sometimes we do.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And how often did you have to do this ritual? CORA DEMIT: It's about once every two weeks, maybe. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Okay. CORA DEMIT: Uh-huh. 'Cause she has got five kids, you know. We like to eat. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yes.

CORA DEMIT: And a lot of our food were also traditional foods. We had a lot of moose meat, berries, and roots, and all that kind of stuff that we eat.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So the trapline was simply to -- for furs really for -- for -- for --

CORA DEMIT: Hm-mm. And then we ate all those meat and stuff, yeah. And I don’t ever remember going hungry.

And mom would never receive a hand-out. She -- she -- They offered it to her, but she refused it. And I’m glad she did.

And we ate moose meat and all kinds of those beavers and muskrats and caribou. All kinds of berries, all kinds of roots.

She stored it all and we -- Those are the best compared to what we eat today, you know, and that's what I grew up on.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right. You mentioned your mom only spoke your Native language, so you obviously -- CORA DEMIT: I'm bilingual. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Isn’t that wonderful.

CORA DEMIT: Because at very young age I -- when I came out of Charlieskin, mom thought, "Okay, you all need to go to school." Somebody embedded that in her.

And so my brother didn’t go to school, 'cause he refused to go to school. He more or less was a caretaker of the family 'cause he's the oldest boy, but mom thought I need to go to school.

And I said what is school? We don’t know what school is. And I spoke my Native language, which is the Upper Tanana Athabascan.

And when I was put in the school, I didn’t know what they were saying. It's a Bureau of Indian Affairs school. One class. One big building with one teacher with about twenty-five kids.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And where was that located? CORA DEMIT: In Northway. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Northway? CORA DEMIT: Right by my house. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

CORA DEMIT: And guess what? I was put in the back of the class 'cause I couldn’t speak English. And I was reprimanded many times for that.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: How old were you, Cora, when you started?

CORA DEMIT: I was about six, seven. I should've been in kindergarten or first grade, you know, but here they just threw me into school and I didn’t know what grade I was in.

And we had these meals that were prepared for us by one of the cooks there. And I remember cornmeal mush, oatmeal. You wouldn’t catch me eating cornmeal mush today. I’ll eat the oatmeal.

Those are just the basics. And you were expected to eat everything. And we’re not used to the -- our little stomachs are not used to that kind of food and, boy, did I get sick a lot of times.

And there goes my mom walking up to school angry, because we had to eat everything and just these are non-traditional foods and I got -- I got sick many times. And it wasn’t only me, there was other kids that did that, too.

And then along came a teacher from -- I believe he's from Virginia or somewhere in that area. John Pettit. Took us under our wing -- his wing. Loved us for who we were. Little Native children.

Taught us how to read and write. Just at a very young age.

And when I got -- after I married Glenn and had my own kids, we sent for him. We brought him back to Northway. So he was about in his 75’s or something around there. And we honored him. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh, isn’t that lovely.

CORA DEMIT: Dinner, gifts. Because he took time for us and, you know, taught us how to read and write. And I remember --

His daughter and I, Patty, are dear friends. We still keep in contact. She was just a little girl. I’m older than she was.

I remember her little blonde pigtails, and we used to pull it 'cause we didn’t know what blonde looks like. What does it feel like, you know? Isn’t that amazing?

And then I got through that I went to -- they sent me to boarding school in Wrangell Institute in the '60.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And that was like high school type of school for boarding school?

CORA DEMIT: It was grade school. And then after that, there again culture shock. Food put on your plate and you're expected to eat it.

Got sick again. And then after that, I got -- went over to Mt. Edgecumbe for my high school years. Graduated there in ’65.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And did Glenn have the same kind of schooling then, Cora?

CORA DEMIT: No, he didn’t. He kind of went his direction. He went to -- I think, it was 19 he said that he went to California 'cause they had this program where you have exchange something -- some kind of exchange program for young Native men to go elsewhere and try do some trading -- trade work where they can learn job skills and stuff.

And he got selected to do that so he -- he -- they went to California. And there was about five of them that went there.

He learned some trades there, and lived on his own and worked for whatever he was making. So that's what he was taught to do.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: It must've been a culture shock for him, too?

CORA DEMIT: It was. It was. And he was raised without a mother. He lost his mother when he was seven. So his father raised all these kids, too.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And he spoke the same Athabascan language as you?

CORA DEMIT: Yes, he does. He's not fluent, but he understands everything I say. LESLIE McCARTNEY: As a good husband should.

CORA DEMIT: Everything. All my -- yeah, he understand everything. He just -- there're some word where he can say really well and there're some he can’t, so --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. And then did you try to teach your children your language?

CORA DEMIT: Oh, yeah. I speak to my grandkids my language now so that they know and they -- they catch on. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah?

CORA DEMIT: Because, gosh, when I was -- when I was just a little kid that’s all I heard and I thought that was just our language. I thought everybody spoke that, you know.

You don’t know that kind of stuff when you’re little. So when I went to school, you know, I thought, oops, you know.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: How long was Glenn in California?

CORA DEMIT: I think he was there over five years. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Geez, long time.

CORA DEMIT: We were -- we were raised up together. We went to school together, so I knew him.

We got married in 1966. We were both very young. Against my mother’s wishes. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh, really? CORA DEMIT: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Why didn’t your mom want you to marry him?

CORA DEMIT: Well, she thought I was too young. That, back in my era, it's -- it's very young. I was almost 21, but still it was still too young. And he was 24. He's four years older than I am. But guess what, next month we'll be married 49 years.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Congratulations. And then your mom came around and she was happy for you?

CORA DEMIT: Oh, she took his side against me many times after that. I still miss my mom and grandma.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: What -- so when -- when did your mom pass away? And you said your grandma -- CORA DEMIT: Ten years ago.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Ten years ago. And that’s -- yeah, and your grandma lived you said to over 100? CORA DEMIT: One year of each other they passed. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Did they really?

CORA DEMIT: One year apart. And that was really devastating for me. I just -- I could not imagine a world without them. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

CORA DEMIT: I thought they'd be live forever, you know. Yeah, it took me a long time to get over the fact that they're actually gone.

And it was two years ago I did a memorial potlatch for both of them, so that kind of eased the pain. Because it's a way to just let go when we do that. When you do a potlatch. So I did that.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: But your children were lucky that they knew your mom and your grandmother. CORA DEMIT: They knew them, yes. Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Well, that's a wonderful -- wonderful gift to give to your children and your grandchildren.

CORA DEMIT: Just loving they were my grandma and mom. They don’t say a harsh word to any of my kids or any of their grandchildren.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: But they were strict with you?

CORA DEMIT: They were strict with me. I think because I was the oldest of the daughters. And like if when they go away check their traps sometime we don’t go. We don’t go all the time. We stay home sometime.

And being the eldest, my brother would be out doing his thing and then I would have to end up watching the kids.

So I learned to cook and clean at a very young age. And I was held responsible. And they kind of embedded that in my -- in my mind that, you know, when we leave you with these kids, you’re responsible for them and stuff like that.

And it was told to me in our Native language and speaking in our Native language it has more meaning to it when they speak to you like that.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Well, you had said earlier before we were recording that you had been an alcohol counselor and that you had always felt responsible for helping people, so maybe is that where that came from?

CORA DEMIT: Well, I became a -- I started drinking when I was 22, I think. I drank for five years, oh, actually 10 years. And that didn’t go very well, you know.

Glenn drank and I thought, well, he's having fun why can’t I have fun? And I started drinking, and then the next thing you know it's not okay. It almost cost me my marriage many times.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And how was your mom about this?

CORA DEMIT: My mom did not like it at all. She had to -- I had two kids. They were two oldest girls and it seems like mom always took them, 'cause we weren’t fit to be parents.

But ten years of that, we -- I -- we quit. Both together at the same day, same time. It's been 42 years.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Well, good for both of you. Yeah. CORA DEMIT: That's a long time. LESLIE McCARTNEY: That's a long time.

CORA DEMIT: And after that a job came open through Tanana Chiefs (Conference) in Fairbanks and I thought well, let me apply because I've been there, done that.

So I applied and got the job and I've been a counselor for eight years. And a lot of what I did -- a lot of helping people, but I thought everybody needs to get well. Okay, you do this, you do this, you get better. It doesn’t work like that.

So I got burnt out even though I love what I did. And then after that I took that aside and then I went to work in the school as Special Ed aide in the -- stuck -- Stuck out there that area for 10 years.

And then when this job came open, I thought, "Okay, since I know my language, my culture, and stuff," I thought, "I should apply."

LESLIE McCARTNEY: At the Fish & Wildlife?

CORA DEMIT: Fish & Wildlife that I'm -- I work with now. And I took the schooling away -- I mean -- I mean, I got that out of the way and I thought okay let me apply for this. So I got this job in 1991 and I've been here since. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Wow.

CORA DEMIT: So I have a long history of jobs, but they're different jobs and --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: But they're all people oriented.

CORA DEMIT: They're all people oriented. I work with people all the time.

And I always feel that my mom always said that just be who you are. Don’t pretend. Don’t pretend to be someone that you're not.

And I'm not ashamed to talk about my background and stuff. And one thing we were taught is not to boast, brag about the things we do.

And she always say you don’t have to do that. They can just see who you are. That should speak for itself she said. Of course, it's in our language, but --

And so I always remember that even when things get tough and rough. 'Cause there's a lot of hard bumps along the way as we grow older and we have families, we have grandkids and kids and stuff.

And -- but we get through it. And each time we get through it, you get stronger and stronger.

'Cause I have four daughters and a son. I adopted a son when he was three and he's in the military right now. And he's in Anchorage, lives in Wasilla, but based out of Fort Richardson. This is his 16th year.

I have an oldest daughter that's paraplegic. And between my two youngest daughters, I lost a daughter to a drowning accident when she was 12.

And life has not been easy for me, but like I said, you know, I always remember my mom and grandma’s words that you will come out of it. At that time you don’t think you will, but you do.

So I learn just to kind of just be -- try to be quiet and listen even if it's from you -- from Barbara or from you, because we learn from each other.

We may come from two different cultures, but we learn from each other. You pick up something. You go home with it and you run with it.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And you had two very strong women as role models to -- CORA DEMIT: Yes, I did. LESLIE McCARTNEY: -- to have that strength. CORA DEMIT: Yes, I did. LESLIE McCARTNEY: That inner strength. Yeah.

CORA DEMIT: My grandma was very humble.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And I'm sure your mom and your grandma’s life wasn’t easy either and they -- CORA DEMIT: Oh, no. LESLIE McCARTNEY: -- had lots of bumps, so, they're -- you know.

CORA DEMIT: They lost husbands, you know, the backbone of the family. And they have to end up carrying the load of taking five kids -- taking care of five of us.

And that had to be rough. I mean we weren’t all good kids, you know. We misbehave.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: You were kids.

CORA DEMIT: We were just kids. And like I said, I don’t ever remember mom hollering at us. And I try not to holler at my children.

You know, when you grow up, she said, "Just don’t holler. Just talk to them in a normal tone of voice and they hear you." They don’t -- you might think -- you may think that they don’t hear you, but they do.

'Cause that's what I tell my kids. Talk to your children in a kind voice. You never know what you leave -- plant a seed in them. They hear you.

And that's -- that's -- that's the foundation that I'm on right now. When I want to go get upset and want to go hang someone, you know, I remember that. It don’t work like that.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: But going back to the land, Cora. You spent the summers on land in the tent, so throughout your life did you ever go back and do fish camp with Glenn or did your family --

CORA DEMIT: We did years ago, but right now that -- our land there is all flooded. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Is it?

CORA DEMIT: And I’m to blame State of Alaska for it. Forgive me. They bombed -- they dynamite the channel.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: This is in Northway, right?

CORA DEMIT: Right. In our -- in the area that the 160-acre where the land is. And the channel switched on them, so it went the opposite direction and -- and flooded our land. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh, dear.

CORA DEMIT: And so it's -- it's not a pleasant thing to talk about 'cause there's things are legally are being done about it. And that -- And we never went back, because it's just full of water now. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

CORA DEMIT: Where are camps and our fish frames and our caches and stuff were. And that’s sad.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah, you can’t take your children there or your grandchildren there. CORA DEMIT: No. LESLIE McCARTNEY: And tell them the stories of your grandparents. CORA DEMIT: No. LESLIE McCARTNEY: And their --

CORA DEMIT: They just have to remember when they went there and remember it as it is. 'Cause we -- Glenn and I built the little house there. That's where we took our kids. Actually, a house, not a frame.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So when did it flood so that you couldn’t go back? CORA DEMIT: It's about ten years now. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh, dear.

CORA DEMIT: Yeah. And the legal proceedings takes a little while, you know, for it to actually take place.

And when it first flooded, it just broke my heart because it brought too many memories back for me because that's where I was born and raised and that's where we hunted, fished, trapped.

And the memories kinda just slid away there.

And when you go through from fish camp where Ada lives to that little bridge, it says Fish Creek. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CORA DEMIT: If you look over -- if you're coming from Northway or if you're coming from the highway on your left, if you look over, you'll -- you'll see a little black spec. And that's the remaining of the fish frame. Way across the bay. That's where I was -- that's where we lived.

And with -- we only had one family next to us. Mark’s family. And that's the only family that we knew. Mom and grandma give them permission to live next door to us.

And that's the only family we ever knew. And all that family passed away, except one son left.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And still in Northway? The son's still there? CORA DEMIT: The son's still in Northway, yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And Northway has really changed over the years, hasn’t it?

CORA DEMIT: It has, yeah. It has. Just -- things are not the same as when I grew up.

When I was a young child, I remember just the peace -- the people being humble and humility and just everybody getting along. Everybody and people sharing their food and their meat and their whatever traditional food they have they share.

Nowadays, you just don’t see that anymore as often. And it's sad that it's happening like that.

What happens if all this groceries and stuff go away? What you gonna do, you know?

LESLIE McCARTNEY: When did it start to change then, Cora, and what do you think changed?

CORA DEMIT: Well, I think I was -- probably after the 70’s. Because in 70’s, I think we were still doing good. We were still sharing and stuff.

Then all this village politics and stuff gets in the way. And I, myself, being on the council and many boards for a long, long time. And just things just are different, very different.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Not such a sense of community anymore?

CORA DEMIT: Yeah. And just -- like you can’t tell anybody anything anymore. You keep your secrets because by the time it gets down to the fifth person it's distorted. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

CORA DEMIT: We never used to do that. I don’t ever remember someone say, 'Did you hear that? Did you hear that so and so did that?"

Growing up, I never heard that. And we just enjoyed just living off the land.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And also the amount of people that live in Northway has decreased over the last --

CORA DEMIT: It has decreased. A lot of people have moved on, moved away for jobs or they married someone from another village and they gotta move.

We used to have a lot of people over there.

Any more questions? I just touched base I was skipping around, jumping around. LESLIE McCARTNEY: That's okay. BARBARA CELLARIUS: No, it's been really -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: It's just fine.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: It's been really interesting. You know, one thing I was wondering about, so you grew up with your mom and your grandma, were there any uncles who were involved in teaching your brothers things about hunting? Or did they -- your mom teach all of the kids?

CORA DEMIT: My mom and grandma taught all the kids, because we're in this little fish camp. And we don’t see hardly anyone. BARBARA CELLARIUS: You were pretty isolated?

CORA DEMIT: We were isolated. And once in a while we'll have visitors from fish camp or from Northway. People who went to fish camp and they have to go to Charlieskin, 'cause you either got to walk or you got to go by boat.

Old rickety old boat that we own that didn’t even have paddle. We used black spruce for our paddles.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Did you pole? CORA DEMIT: We pole, yeah. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

CORA DEMIT: And then wintertime we had dog team from fish -- Charlieskin to fish camp. Or dog packs or we walk on snowshoes.

And in summertime, there's a summer trail that goes from fish camp to Charlieskin and that's about fifteen miles I said. I mean we walk. We love that walk. BARBARA CELLARIUS: You've done a lot of walking.

CORA DEMIT: We don't think it's fifteen miles, yeah. We did a lot of walking.

So we were isolated. And if we came out, it would only be to fish camp. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay.

CORA DEMIT: Because we don’t have no transportation to get to Northway. And that's quite a distance there, too. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay.

CORA DEMIT: So -- And a lot of fish camp people like Oscar Albert’s family and all his children I’m very close to that family because that's the only people we ever see.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: There were just a few people? CORA DEMIT: Just a handful was in fish camp.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And because, like you say, your mom was an only child and -- and there wasn’t any uncles on that side.

CORA DEMIT: No uncles on that side or aunties.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So your mom’s the only -- the only child, so yeah, you're right. No -- no uncles, no aunties, so it wasn’t like extended family. CORA DEMIT: Uh-huh. LESLIE McCARTNEY: To come in and help, yeah.

CORA DEMIT: And my -- my dad has one brother left in Northway and that's Ben Albert.

And he has first cousins who I adopted as my uncles, and there's three of them. They're all from Nabesna. Steve Frank, Louie Frank.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Is Oscar Jimmie? CORA DEMIT: Oscar Jimmie is my real uncle. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Is your real uncle? Okay.

CORA DEMIT: My dad’s brother. And the three brothers, Steve, Louie and Harry, they grew up in Nabesna and they're my dad’s first cousin. Their mother’s are sisters.

My dad’s mother and their mother are sisters. So I adopted them as my uncle, and they love it.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: How did your dad pass away at such a -- Well, it must've been an early age? CORA DEMIT: It's a tragic death. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh, I’m sorry. CORA DEMIT: Yeah, yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: I’m sorry. That must've been very hard on your mom and grandmother?

CORA DEMIT: It was, yeah. And I, for many years, I envied my friends who had fathers. I couldn’t understand how come I didn’t have a father, you know.

It -- it took me a while to really understand that I don’t have a father. I know who he is and I know the name, but what would life been with -- if I had a father? Those are the questions that always --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Or a grandfather. CORA DEMIT: Or a grandfather. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yes.

CORA DEMIT: What -- Where would I be, or what do I do, or what would I become? And things like that. It always --

I don’t dwell on it as much now because I'm a little older, but when I was a young teenager I thought oh, if I just had a father, you know.

Or if I had a grandpa, 'cause I don’t even know the meaning of those two. I don’t say it. I don’t know how to use it. That's all I ever know is my mom.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: But you had a wonderful mom and grandmother by the sound of it. CORA DEMIT: Uh-huh.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Sounds like she took really good care of you. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah, wonderful care.

CORA DEMIT: Yeah. And yes, we were disciplined. You know, we -- we misbehave. We’re kids. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. And with five --

CORA DEMIT: But don’t let her go get your switch for you, you know. She used to say-- when I misbehave, she said, "Go out there and go get your switch." In our language.

I get the skinniest one, but guess what? BARBARA CELLARIUS: Ths skinny ones hurt.

CORA DEMIT: The skinniest one really hurts. I learned my lesson, as well.

And then, when she would spank me, I would say. "It don’t hurt."

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Then you'd get a little more. CORA DEMIT: Tickles. It hurt.

And my brother would just get mad at me. "Cry at the first hit. Get it over with. Why get hit some more?" He used to just go like that to me with his hand.

But I was stubborn. I grew up too fast. I didn’t have time to be a little kid.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: But then those family circumstances, that -- CORA DEMIT: I couldn’t help it. LESLIE McCARTNEY: No, no.

CORA DEMIT: I didn’t even play with dolls.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. 'Cause you were saying that that probably led you to feel so responsible for other people as you grew up and became older and want to help people.

CORA DEMIT: You know, there was guy in Wal-Mart. He was ahead of me. This is not part of the story, but it -- it kind of leads into that.

I was right behind him and he -- he -- I looked at him and you felt -- he looked like he's kinda a little down and out. He couldn’t find his money. He just had a few little items there. And I'm in line behind him.

He fiddled around in his pocket, all over. He couldn’t find any money and I -- I didn’t want to embarrass him and I whispered to him. I said, "Let me pay for it," you know.

He looked at me and he said, "Thank you, but I know I have my money here somewhere," he whispered back to me.

So he eventually he found it. It was a twenty dollar bill, all wrapped. That's why he couldn’t find it. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Rolled up in a little -- CORA DEMIT: Right. BARBARA CELLARIUS: -- ball.

CORA DEMIT: He paid for his purchase and he went on that direction. And I put mine on the thing and then I paid for mine, and I was just wheeling my basket out and I almost ran into him.

He was standing there waiting for me. And he said, "I just want to thank you for what you tried to do back there."

I said, "You know, sir," I said, "There was a time in my life when I'm down and out like you were. I just wanted to help." And he said, "Thank you." And I said, "You're welcome."

And then I went to my right and he went to his left. Not even two seconds, I stopped and I said I need to get him a Subway sandwich or something. There's a Subway right down here.

I turn around, I look for him, two seconds into my walk I couldn’t find him. I tiptoe on my foot. I’m trying to see which direction he went. He can’t go very far.

Chills went down my spine. I said that had to be an angel in disguise. I just floated out of the Wal-Mart.

Things like that. When we do stuff like that, we are being taken care of. There're many, many instances when I took that step to do that. That was just one of the example.

And I've always been taken care of. I don’t run short of anything.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: It may be difficult along the way, but you always come through. CORA DEMIT: If I have to make it and sew it with my hands, I’ll do so. And give it.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And your mom taught you those skills.

CORA DEMIT: That's the way my mother and grandma were. And it makes me who I am today.

Like I said there're a lot of bumps. A lot of chips that had to fall, but you learn from that.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: What are you the most grateful for then, Cora?

CORA DEMIT: I'm grateful for my health. BARBARA CELLARIUS: That's important.

CORA DEMIT: I'm grateful for my health because that's very important to keep you going.

I’m a survivor of cancer of six years. And when I was diagnosed with cancer, the doctor called and said, "You have cancer." I said, "Me? You must -- must have someone -- "

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Have the wrong number?

CORA DEMIT: You have the wrong person. He said no -- "Cora Demit?" I said, "Yes." He said, "You need to come in for surgery." I had two surgeries in Anchorage.

Even through that, I learned how important it is to be nice and kind to other people. I treated my nurses and my doctors with utmost respect because they take care of me.

One of my nurse's name was Faith. Can you imagine? I said, "Are you still named Faith?" And she said, "Yeah." And she said, "That's the kind of stuff you need to have. Faith," she said. I said, "Oh, okay, thank you."

And Glenn was reading scriptures to me and it talked about faith. It just hit together.

I mean, I knew I was going to be okay after that. I just knew and I knew and I knew.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And you are.

CORA DEMIT: And I went through treatment. Regardless of the treatment, I was still nice to people. Nobody even knew in Fairbanks that I was going through treatment.

I have family and relatives in Fairbanks, and finally one of them said, "What are you doing in Fairbanks? You working around here or something?" I said, "No, I'm here for treatment." "You are?" She said, "Boy, you don’t look any different." I said, "How am I supposed to look?"

I didn’t want nobody to feel sorry for me. But those are the things that makes who you are, you know.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And you got better and you're -- CORA DEMIT: I got better. LESLIE McCARTNEY: -- cancer free.

CORA DEMIT: I'm cancer free for six years. And every time I get a checkup and they tell me you're in good health. Yes, yes, yes.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And you were saying -- we were just talking a little while ago, you're 69, you said? CORA DEMIT: I'll be 69 this year.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And you have no intentions of retiring? CORA DEMIT: Not until they bring me a walker and a cane.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: What do you love about your -- about your job with Fish & Wildlife? CORA DEMIT: I just love the interaction with the people, because you learn from all different cultures.

Where I work at Visitor's Center? LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CORA DEMIT: You meet people from all over the world.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: This is at the Tetlin Refuge? CORA DEMIT: Correct. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

CORA DEMIT: And we all have a lot of things in common. I mean, you would never believe that people from European and all over the place have -- we have things in common.

I was telling this one person, you know, we have the same blood flowing through our veins. It's red. And they just fall over and cried. They just cried. They said oh, you know.

Stuff like that. And when they walk through the door, they see this Native lady and I better be setting good example for my people.

If it's not for me or my children, my grandkids, because if I'm going to walk that walk, I have little ducklings behind me. My kids and my grandkids watching grandma and grandpa.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: They must be very proud of you, Cora? CORA DEMIT: 'Cause Glenn makes -- Glenn is an artist. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh.

CORA DEMIT: He makes everything out of diamond willow. And he's well respected for that, also. And me, on the other hand, I do beading projects. I make things.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yes, that's one of the -- I’m sorry we couldn’t meet you in Northway, but we'll have to come another time.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: To see your beadwork. Yes, I've heard --

CORA DEMIT: I have a lot of -- I make a lot of things. I learn on my own, watching my mom.

I mean, you should see my first mukluks. The bottom. I can do everything else but the bottom. It looked like it hit the wall and just stayed there.

She look at it and she'd turn it upside down and look around and she said, "You got to take it out and do it again." I said, "What? That’s good job."

She said, "No, it's not. I’m sorry." "Do I have to?" "You have to take it out and redo it. It doesn’t look like moccasin," she said. I said, "Oh, great."

So reluctantly I took it all apart. She didn’t take it apart for me. I did it.

And she said, "Now, watch me." So she did it one side. And she said, "Now, you do this side. Very carefully."

Because when you do projects you do not rush. And that's what I did with that first one. I rushed. I wanted to get it out of the way. Didn’t work.

I had to end up doing it again. So the second one I did, it turned out okay.

And then when my ma -- my mom passed away -- 'cause mom made us everything. She made everything even -- 'cause we had no toys when we were kids.

She made our moccasins, our mukluks, our clothing, mittens, hat, just that you would pay zillion of dollars for now.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: I wonder when she ever got to sleep when she hunted and trapped, fished, looked after the kids, cooked, so --

CORA DEMIT: That's what I always wondered. We never know what our colors on our moccasins will be. When does she do that?

We talk about it years later. I said when did mom ever do that? While we sleep or what?

'Cause we don’t know what kind of colors our beads are going to be. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So she was doing it when you weren’t around?

CORA DEMIT: She was doing it when we're not -- we're not looking or when? We never figured that out.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: That's an interesting question. CORA DEMIT: Yeah, we never figured that out.

I asked my older brother 'cause every Christmas we got new moccasins. Every Christmas. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: All five of you?

CORA DEMIT: All five of us. And I asked my brother, I said, do you ever remember mom -- We -- we see her sew, but we don’t know -- we don’t pay attention to it. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Right.

CORA DEMIT: We're too little. So we never knew what the color of our moccasins going to be.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: She must've worked day and night.

CORA DEMIT: She had to. Bless her heart, you know. So I pick up that trait. And my daughters, too.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh, they're good sewers? CORA DEMIT: They're beaders. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Beaders.

CORA DEMIT: Wonderful beaders. My daughter just produced a 5 x 7 trooper patch. Alaska State Troopers. That little patch that you see on their -- she enlarged the picture and did it. BARBARA CELLARIUS: In beads. CORA DEMIT: In beads. Intricate.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So it passed through lots of generations, then? The skills.

CORA DEMIT: And then she did this, too. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. CORA DEMIT: It's in Anchorage office right now.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Oh, that's nice. LESLIE McCARTNEY: That's lovely. CORA DEMIT: Beads are -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: The US Fish & Wildlife Service -- CORA DEMIT: Yes. LESLIE McCARTNEY: -- badge. Beautiful.

CORA DEMIT: It's at Anchorage. BARBARA CELLARIUS: At the headquarters? CORA DEMIT: At the headquarters.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Well, you must be very proud, Cora. CORA DEMIT: Just intricate. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

CORA DEMIT: So she's -- her name's Sherry. She does wonderful beadwork. And my daughter who's paraplegic does necklaces and earrings and bracelet and stuff.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And where does she live, Cora? CORA DEMIT: She lives in my house right now. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh, does she?

CORA DEMIT: But she's moving to Fairbanks next week. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh. CORA DEMIT: In a couple weeks. She's going back to school. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Good for her. Is she going to the university or -- ? CORA DEMIT: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And what is she going to be taking? CORA DEMIT: I don’t know.

And then my youngest daughter in Mentasta is -- almost got her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Development. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Wonderful.

CORA DEMIT: And then my other daughter's in Michigan running a factory. And Sherry in Northway School. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh. So they've all done very well.

CORA DEMIT: And my son in Army. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Army, yeah. That's wonderful. CORA DEMIT: Yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: You must be very proud of them all?

CORA DEMIT: I am. And I don’t say very much to them, but they know I am.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Hm-mm. Yeah. So it looks like your mom’s teachings have come through you have gone to them hopefully --

CORA DEMIT: Boy, with a lot of hard in it -- hard lessons to learn along the way 'cause sometime I get stubborn. One time I ask her for ten dollars. I was a teenager.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Hm-mm. This is your mom. Uh-huh.

CORA DEMIT: Could I have ten dollars? And I don’t even remember what was the ten dollars for. Back then, it was a lot of money. "Get a job," she said. I go, "What? You're my mother, you're supposed to give me ten dollar."

I never forgot that. I shared that with Sylvia just the other day. That kids get away so much right now. They just want to sleep and eat and stay home and -- I mean these are grown mens who still live with their parents. She told me, "Get a job!"

So at 14, I had -- I worked for a YCC Group for a dollar an hour.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: What were you doing?

CORA DEMIT: Cutting grass. Picking up garbage for a dollar an hour. That was a lot of money back then. You had ten cents and you had ten -- ten little candies. Those were the days.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: That's right.

CORA DEMIT: We used to work for elders, so they could give us candy or something. Piling all their wood and bring all their water and wash their dishes, clean their house.

Sometime we didn’t get nothing, but that was okay. If they had a candy, fine. If not, that's okay.

We just did it because -- 'cause what mom and them tell us to do. They say when you do that, they bless you with long life.

She said, "You never know what they think toward you while you're doing -- sitting there -- They're sitting there. They can’t do their chores. And you come in and you go zip around and do all their chores for them and they watch you and they bless you," she said.

My grandma told me that. So I do that.

I have an uncle that's -- can’t get around very well. Every other week I do his laundry. Volunteer. I like doing it. It makes him happy.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: The lessons you learned from your mom.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. You're helping him and you'll be blessed.

CORA DEMIT: Yeah. Isn’t that wonderful? LESLIE McCARTNEY: That is wonderful.

CORA DEMIT: Of course, if I tell more stories we'll be here for four days.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah, I was going to say, we should --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: I know you only have an hour. BARBARA CELLARIUS: We should think about wrapping up. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah, I really appreciate --

CORA DEMIT: And I appreciate you guys finally cornering me.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yes. Thank you very much for --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Thank you, Cora. We really appreciate it. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Taking the time.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. Thank you so much.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: I didn’t know about your connections to the Park.

CORA DEMIT: Yeah. My dad. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah. CORA DEMIT: That was my connection. BARBARA CELLARIUS: That was great.

CORA DEMIT: And I'm very close to Katie John and her family because of that. They know who my dad is.

And I appreciate that, you know, 'cause when Katie was alive -- 'cause my daughter lives in Mentasta we go there all the time.

After we visit Sara and her children, we walk down to Katie and there she is, just so happy to see me 'cause she know I'm Andrew Jimmie’s daughter. She pulls out her dried meat or dry salmon strips --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Which she has to share.

CORA DEMIT: Or whatever she has, here it comes. And a cup of tea. Isn’t that wonderful? Oh, when she pass, I did miss her bad.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah. Did I see you at the funeral? CORA DEMIT: Yes. BARBARA CELLARIUS: I thought so.

CORA DEMIT: I went there. I was honored also there.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. So I’m supposed to tell you hello from Sue. That's our next stop. Sue and Frank.

CORA DEMIT: I know them very well, too, so -- Well, thank you, ladies.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Thank you. Thank you so much, Cora.