Frank and Sue Entsminger were interviewed on April 22, 2015 by Barbara Cellarius and Leslie McCartney at their home on the Tok Cutoff Road near Tok, Alaska. In this first part of a two part interview, Frank and Sue talk about their personal backgrounds, interest in the outdoors and hunting, and coming to Alaska. They also talk about their hunting, guiding, and trapping, as well as changes in wildlife populations they have observed. Individually, Frank talks about his taxidermy business and becoming a bronze sculptor. Sue talks about earning extra income by selling hand-made fur hats and Native style dresses.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Date of Interview: Apr 22, 2015
Narrator(s): Frank Entsminger, Sue Entsminger
Interviewer(s): Leslie McCartney, Barbara Cellarius
Transcriber: Joan O'Leary
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
Sue's personal background and coming to Alaska
Frank's personal background and coming to Alaska
Frank starting a taxidermy business in Fairbanks, Alaska
Frank and Sue meeting, and moving to the Tok Cutoff area
Franks introduction to and developing interest in the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains
Obtaining their property on the Tok Cutoff and fixing it up
Continuing the taxidermy business
Trapping, and Sue sewing and selling fur hats
Sue sewing Indian style dresses, and Frank becoming a bronze artist
Learning to trap, and making a living from it
Hunting for themselves
Slowing down and retirement
Changes in the wildlife population and hunting seasons and regulations
Subsistence laws and regulations
Service on state and federal fish and game advisory committees
Establishing resident zone communities for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and use area boundaries
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: So today's April 22, 2015. I'm Leslie McCARTNEY running the video camera. This is Barbara Cellarius and we have Frank and Sue.
Would you like to introduce yourself? And I want to thank you very much for allowing us to come to talk to you today.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Ladies, first.
SUE ENTSMINGER: You're welcome. Sue Entsminger. And we live near Mentasta. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Frank.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Frank Entsminger. And we live here at 91 Mile on the Tok Cutoff, which quite close to Mentasta.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And the park. LESLIE McCARTNEY: And the park.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: So I was wondering if we could start with you talking a little bit about where you were born and what brought you to Alaska?
SUE ENTSMINGER: I was born in -- on a farm. Actually, my mother had -- gave birth to all five of us at the house in Newport, Pennsylvania.
A rural place -- I mean, they call it rural there, but after being here it's not so rural.
Any rate, and then I grew up working -- milking cows and learned how to work hard.
And actually utilizing -- every mother would like can the bones after we butchered, and I learned a lot of things that I still do today from my farming upbringing.
And in high school, I wanted to live where there was the least amount of people per square mile. And I had Wyoming in my sights at the time.
And as I was working at a bank when I was 19 and this lady said, "Did you ever think of Alaska? I've got friends that live in Fairbanks."
And I ended up thinking now that sounds like the place I want to go. So I moved to Fairbanks for the outdoors.
I liked hunting as a kid and I came to Fairbanks and met Frank in his taxidermy shop.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: And what -- what year did you come to Fairbanks, Sue? SUE ENTSMINGER: ’73.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: ’73, all right. Yeah.
Frank, do you want to tell us a little bit about your background?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Sure. Yeah, I was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana. Always liked the outdoors. Actually, I lived on the edge of Great Falls to where if you went one way you went into the town or city. If you went the other way, you went out into the wheat fields and the badlands where the rattlesnakes, gophers and Great Horned Owls lived.
So, but anyway, as a young kid I developed a real keen interest in the outdoors and wildlife.
And, actually, during high school I met a couple of my former classmates and during our senior year we decided, hey, why don’t we just pool our resources, buy a car, and after graduation drive up the Alaska Highway and check out Alaska.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: And what year was that, Frank?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: And that's what we did in the spring of 1962. We graduated on the second of June, and the third we were headed north to Alaska.
Been here ever since.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: What was the drive like up?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Well, it was interesting. Actually, we went through all the parks. We went to Glacier National Park, which is in Montana.
And then we went into Waterton Lakes in Alberta and Jasper, Kootenay.
And checked, you know, actually it was only the second time I'd ever been in Glacier Park 'cause we never really traveled that much back in those days.
But it was -- seeing all the wildlife and whatnot in the parks was a -- was a real plus. Then we hit the Alaska Highway at Beaver Creek, and it was like 1,200 miles of gravel road.
We had spare tires and all that sort of thing. We had our rifles. Actually, when we went into Canada we actually had to check our pistols 'cause even back then, they didn’t allow pistols in Canada. So they put a seal on it.
SUE ENTSMINGER: But they let you bring 'em?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, they put a seal on it so we couldn’t fire it. And then -- and we had to show that we had enough money to make it through Canada to make it to Alaska.
So anyway, we headed on up. And it took us 11 days 'cause we kind of went tourist style and stopped at all the different places. And Liard Hot Springs and some of the, you know, sights along the way.
Went to Sam McGee’s cabin in -- in Whitehorse. And ended up in Fairbanks. One rainy night. Broke.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Just 'cause it was the end of the road?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, pretty much. You know, and then we all tried to get jobs. We all looked for jobs and -- and were successful in getting jobs.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Everyone stayed?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yes. Actually, Sandy, one of the other fellows, he ended up going back to the University of Missoula in Montana for one year, but then he went to the University of Fairbanks in Alaska for the rest of his college days.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: And the other person you came up with?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Actually, Marty and I started a taxidermy business.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Marty Rinio?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Marty Rinio, together. And I -- I had worked in my junior and senior year with a taxidermist in Great Falls on weekends and during the summer.
And, you know, developed a real keen interest in it. And I checked in with a fellow that had a taxidermy shop in the Fairbanks area and eventually got a job with him.
And -- but, within a short time he told me he was going into the ministry and he was selling his business to some other people.
And I worked for them for a little while, but things didn’t work out with them so Marty and I started our own taxidermy business.
We leased space and then -- and then just started the taxidermy shop.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Which was in 1965?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Uh-huh, about ’65 something in there.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right. And so you've taxidermied for any kind of animal?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Pretty much any, you know, most any kind of Alaskan animal. Actually, I learned how to mount small mammals and birds and also life-size animals.
I knew how to make bear rugs and things of that nature. The only thing I was rusty at was fish. I never did claim to be a fish taxidermist.
I got roped into doing a few fish at one time. Didn’t really enjoy it, but I got them mounted and nobody pushed the reject button, so I was spared.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And then I walked into his taxidermy shop in ’73 for a job, 'cause I wanted to be a taxidermist, too.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh, really?
SUE ENTSMINGER: That's how we met, actually. And there was a thousand miles of dirt 11 years later. You had 1,200. We had a thousand miles of dirt.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: So they paved 200? SUE ENTSMINGER: Uh-huh, yeah, yeah.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: You drove up by yourself, Sue?
SUE ENTSMINGER: Actually, my ex-husband and my little guy. He was three years old at the time. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Okay. SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah. Uh-huh.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: And came to Fairbanks.
SUE ENTSMINGER: He didn’t like Alaska and I did, so he left and I stayed.
And then we kind of hooked up together. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right. SUE ENTSMINGER: To working at the shop. Yeah.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: So how long were you in Fairbanks then at the shop?
SUE ENTSMINGER: Frank, you were there -- Frank lived in Fairbanks 15 years and then -- FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, about fifteen years.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And me four when we left and came down here.
But the year before we had a house that burned down. He had some property south of Delta near Pump 10.
It wasn’t Pump 10 when we got it, though. There wasn’t a Pump 10 there. The pipeline hadn’t been built yet.
But, we decided when we got together we needed to relocate from Fairbanks and we went to this five acres that he had a little cabin.
And we weren’t very smart, because we weren’t doing things right and we lost it to a fire. So we had to regroup.
And he said, to me, of all the places I've been in Alaska I want to go live on the Tok Cutoff.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Well, what brought that about was having the taxidermy shop in Fairbanks. We -- we met a lot of people.
We met just about all the local guides in the area and, of course, with the two military bases there, Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base, we met a lot of the military people.
And also we worked closely with the Fish & Game people, as well.
And one day a Fish & Gamer brought in this 40-inch Dall sheep that he said somebody hit on the Tok Cutoff with their car, with their automobile.
And I thought to myself, man, if they're hitting trophy sheep on the highway that's where I want to live. So --
But also it's interesting because the first summer that we spent up here Sandy, you know one of the other fellows that came up the highway with the three of us, got a job with the USGS.
And he actually was working with the survey and they went out into bush Alaska and really had a nice summer.
He, you know, they collected samples of this and that and the other, but he had a lot of time to go fishing and different things. And Marty and I were pretty jealous, because we ended up working as just grunts on a construction project shoveling gravel and doing this and that and the other.
But we, you know, we -- we made like two dollars an hour which we thought was big time wages back then.
But anyway, so the next summer we applied to the USGS, as well. And we actually got work with them and we ended up -- it was -- it was called stratigraphic reconnaissance with the government.
And they actually had this geologist hired and he went to different places in Alaska and checked out, you know, trying to find minerals, oil, whatever he could find. And it was all documented to where the government would know where all this stuff was.
And we were just grunts that worked with him packing samples and different things, but anyway we ended up working along the coast of Alaska all the way from Cordova to -- down towards the -- below -- south of Yakutat in Glacier Bay National Monument down there.
And so we -- and that was all summer long. We actually spent two weeks working with a little Bell helicopter out of St. Elias in, you know, Wrangell-St. Elias Mountain Range down there and the Malaspina Forelands and all through there.
We based out of Yakutat. And it was a super interesting summer, you know, seeing all the parts of Alaska and whatnot.
And, of course, you know, that was way before, you know, the Wrangell Park was established, but that was my first insight to the -- the Wrangell area down there.
And we had hunters that came in from all over Alaska. And there was one fellow that brought in this really big ram out of Chitina, so that sparked my interest to go down there and start poking around, as well.
So it was kind of a benefit, you know, being able to see all these, you know, different critters from all over Alaska and kind of gave you a clue as to, you know, where to go and look for stuff.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: And you guys were kind of the only taxidermists around?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Well, actually yes. We were actually the only ones in Fairbanks doing taxidermy.
There and -- we actually ended up being a receiving station for this Denver Jonas out of Denver, Colorado and as a receiving station we would -- we would take in trophies from guided hunters, you know, that the Alaska guides took out, but they lived in the Lower 48.
So we would prepare the hides. We'd flesh them out and prepare them. Salt them down to make sure there was no spoilage or slipping.
And then we would ship the hides, antlers and horns down to Colorado where they would mount the critters and then get 'em back to the -- to our customers.
And there was another receiving station in downtown Fairbanks, but it was out of Seattle -- it was -- they called it Seattle Jonas Brothers, but the Jonas people no longer owned it. It was sold to the Klineburger Brothers back then.
So we were a little bit of a competition, but, I mean, there was lots of critters and lots of hunters, so --
SUE ENTSMINGER: But you guys were the only ones mounting, right?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: But we were the only ones in Fairbanks back then that was -- SUE ENTSMINGER: Everything else was sent out.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: -- actually, you know, mounting the animals and getting them back to the -- the customers, yeah.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: And that was big business, then?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, well, it was -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: The hunting?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: It was our livelihood, you know.
And, actually, the receiving station worked out real well because we got a ten percent commission on all the animals that we sent in to Denver Jonas Brothers.
SUE ENTSMINGER: So then, we, after the house burned down, Frank and I decided to come here.
And we started out in a one room cabin and one room shop. We bought this little shop that first year. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Uh-huh.
SUE ENTSMINGER: To work out of. You know, when I look back at my records and what we made then, it's crazy what we survived on.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: And it was right here on this -- on this property here? SUE ENTSMINGER: Right. Uh-huh.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, well, both my partners -- well, Sand -- I should -- you know, Marty, my -- my business partner, and then Sandy Jamieson, the other fellow that came to Alaska, both got into flying. Turned into pilots.
Well, I was never mechanically inclined and I thought, man, if I -- if I tried to fly I’ll probably crash and kill myself.
And -- I -- we -- I liked Fairbanks. The people were just terrific in the area, but, you know, it just wasn’t a real -- geographically, you know, there was a lot nicer places in Alaska. I felt.
SUE ENTSMINGER: But you were closer to the things you wanted to do.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Well, I -- I liked to be in the mountains and closer to the wildlife and whatnot, so that's when we decided to start looking around for property in the -- in the mountain area.
And Susie -- I sent her out and she -- she found this spot right here.
SUE ENTSMINGER: That one spring I drove my little orange Datsun down here on the Tok Cutoff and I just knocking on doors looking for a place, and ended up meeting the people in Mentasta.
That's when I first met Ruth Hicks. And I even went all the way out the Nabesna Road looking for property.
And there -- it was tough 'cause there's hardly any land for available. And I met an old couple that had this -- it's an old homestead and they had a section. They had sold some of it off, but they had a pretty good section of it and she -- she wasn’t really willing to sell it.
So I came home and that's -- I think that's -- was that -- I’m trying to think 'cause we -- we were down in the pass and the house burned down.
And we came -- we got a letter from her in October. 'Cause that was that spring, I think, that I was down here and she says, "I'm ready to sell. I had my leg amputated and I'm ready to sell." FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And so it was really interesting because she had her leg amputated and we lost our house to fire and then it worked out that we could buy the place and move down here. Yeah.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: And what year was that then, Sue?
SUE ENTSMINGER: '77.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: '77. So was there anything on the property or was it just --
SUE ENTSMINGER: Just a one room cabin. It was a little old -- talk about short ceiling. That one might've only been six and a half ceiling, 'cause it was tiny.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: That's why you've built the cathedral ceiling.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Well, this was short, too. We were telling, I think, Barbara earlier. And we lifted it, but I --
FRANK ENTSMINGER: A fellow by the name of Harry Ivan Neilson had built this cabin and --
SUE ENTSMINGER: He had proved up on that place.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: He had proved up on the property. It was a 90-acre trade and manufacturing site that he proved up on.
And by the time we had bought the property, it had gone through -- SUE ENTSMINGER: It had changed hands. FRANK ENTSMINGER: -- a couple different owners.
SUE ENTSMINGER: But what's -- no. Uh-uh. He got drunk and he sold it to Adeline one night. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, right, exactly.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah, so Adeline was -- Adeline Dempsey bought it from him when he got drunk one night. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, and then we -- SUE ENTSMINGER: In Fairbanks.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Then we bought it from her. SUE ENTSMINGER: So then we bought it from that -- her. Yeah.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: But, I mean, by then the cabin had, you know, had been built for quite a while and it was starting to get a little run down.
SUE ENTSMINGER: It was supposed to have been built in the '50’s. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And the bottom three logs they built it right on the ground. They were rotted.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: It had little dinky windows and whatnot. So, I mean, I chopped out a big chunk of the south wall and installed a pretty good size -- SUE ENTSMINGER: Two of them.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: -- picture window that let some light in and --
SUE ENTSMINGER: You let -- you got two holes. You cut one in the -- by the stove and then one where we had our bed.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: And we lived in that while we worked on our new house here -- our new cabin.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And we didn’t start this 'til two years later.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Hm-mm. And did you set up a taxidermy business here then?
SUE ENTSMINGER: Well, what we built -- FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yes, yeah. SUE ENTSMINGER: -- went to start with was a one room shop so we could work.
And we weren’t -- we didn’t really produce work for a year, I think. Actually, we got down there 'cause my mom and dad came the shop only -- didn’t even have windows in it.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, well we had spent that summer building the shop. SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah. And -- but by, I think, around December I started -- I was starting -- SUE ENTSMINGER: Doing taxidermy.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Starting doing a little -- do a little taxidermy. And I'd known so many clients from Fairbanks and I told 'em what the deal was and they didn’t care just as long as they got their critters. They didn’t care where I was to mount them, you know, so --
LESLIE McCARTNEY: And like you said, Marty Rinio by that time had taken up flying. He wasn’t so much into taxidermy or --
SUE ENTSMINGER: He was still in his -- LESLIE McCARTNEY: Doing taxidermy, too? FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And he had his shop in town. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right. SUE ENTSMINGER: With another guy and then we had -- we were out here. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Here. Right, yeah.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, Yeah, Marty and I split the partnership and divided up all of the materials and everything which we had decided when we first went into business together we said if we ever, you know, decided to dissolve the partnership we’re not going to have no lawsuits or this and that and the other.
You get this, I get this, see you later. We're still friends today, so --
SUE ENTSMINGER: What was really interesting though is we would mount stuff up and then we'd had to deliver it.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, we had to -- SUE ENTSMINGER: We had to bo -- put it in the truck and drive to Fairbanks and knock on doors to get paid. And that got to be old over the years.
But the first year we were here, we started trapping. I think it was the first year.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Oh, yeah. Uh-huh. Yeah, 'cause we had grizzly bears and wolverine running right through our yard, so --
LESLIE McCARTNEY: So did you have a long trapline then or you just --
SUE ENTSMINGER: We started out small 'cause we were -- I don't -- didn’t we go on foot up -- FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah. Uh-huh. SUE ENTSMINGER: -- the Little Tok for awhile? FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah. Uh-huh.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And then we ended up trapping some beavers and -- but -- and then we were -- just because he's a taxidermist we weren’t selling our fur we kept it and had it tanned.
And about two or three years later, I said, "Frank," -- maybe it was only two years, I don’t know.
It wasn’t very long that I said we can’t afford the tanning bill.
We got to sell this stuff and that's how I got into making fur hats. I made fur hats until last year. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Really.
SUE ENTSMINGER: I’m done sewing.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: So did you learn to sew fur up here?
SUE ENTSMINGER: Uh-huh. Yeah, well, you know, as a kid I was in 4-H and I made clothing and I hated it with a passion.
Hated sewing and I thought -- my aunt wanted me to get into sewing for a living and I said, "Uh, that's the last thing I want to do."
And the next thing I know I'm making fur hats here in Alaska.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: Sewing for a living.
SUE ENTSMINGER: But, I -- it was more interesting than fabric because it's fur and you're using a fur knife and you don’t have -- I mean I had --
I got a pattern and then I started making my own patterns and making a lot of my own designs for like the women’s styles and not just the trapper hat.
So I -- and then I started -- I did 1983 was my first Anchorage Fur Rendezvous that we participated in. I think it was ’83 or ’84.
And they -- they have this Lord Trapper of the Year award and you'd have the face of the -- on the hat, and pretty soon, you know, people were asking me, "Do you have any face hats?"
And then I just started making like the dog mushers would have. Just take a fox face and stretch it flat and put it on the hat, you know, and some people just take it untanned with the ears all scrunched up and throw it on the hat. And I ended up --
I said, Frank, one day I said, "I want to go hunting with you." And we were going to go hunting deer on Kodiak. And I said, "But I can’t. I got three orders for head hats and if you help me -- " 'cause I was selling in Fairbanks at the time. I can go.
So he -- I come home and he had stretched a fox. I had a fox and a wolf and a wolverine or something. FRANK ENTSMINGER: I can't --
SUE ENTSMINGER: There was three of them that he stretched for me, but he stretched them over the form. And when I saw them I fell in love with them and I said, "Oh, that looks so cool."
So I ended up making 'em with the eyes closed, and then eventually making them with eyes, you know, because would see the eyes all sewed shut and they go, "Oh, look, where's the eyes?"
And so it developed into these pretty wild mountain man style hats with the head in them. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Great.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah. Including black bears and grizzly bears. People would bring me their hide to make it, yeah.
Yeah. And then he -- he would -- I'd say you got to help me. He says I’m not going to make you another head hat. You got to make your own.
So I had to learn to mount them myself.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: It was cutting into my taxidermy time. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Making all these head hats.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: But it ended up being a pretty good business I would say?
SUE ENTSMINGER: Well, you know, we had to go to Fairbanks or Anchorage to the shows to sell, you know. There wasn’t really much of a market here.
You know, occasionally you could sell a few hats here, but Anchorage Fur Rondy turned out to be the biggest thing and then the Christmas bazaars that I'd go to in Fairbanks and Anchorage.
And then -- then eventually, I started doing Arctic Man also so that was -- I thought nobody's going to buy a hat in April, but by golly they bought a few hats.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: But you've given it up now have you?
SUE ENTSMINGER: I've pretty much given it up, yeah. I probably make a hat for my Native friends in -- or any friends in -- 'cause the people in Mentasta are always bugging me for a hat here and now.
So I'll probably do that and make stuff for the family, but I'm not going to get into the business.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: But she's still making Native dresses for gradu -- SUE ENTSMINGER: I don’t say no to that.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: -- graduation and weddings and that sort of thing.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah. I made my first dress for -- what was it -- Ruth’s niece asked me to make a dress. No, I made one for me.
I wanted to make myself an Indian dress and I went to Ruth who's Katie’s oldest daughter (Katie John). She's been deceased since ’94.
And I said I want to make a Indian dress, but I want it Mentasta style.
So we asked Katie what was Mentasta style and I’m not sure she wanted to share anything with me at that time.
But I had all these drawings and all these ideas and I read all these books and got all this stuff from the university on, you know, Athabascan stuff in Alaska.
I was showing it all to her and she just points at one of my drawings. Just like that one she says.
And then I did notice that her dress that she wore had a scallop thing so she was pointing at something that was kind of Mentasta, yeah, so --
And then when I made my first one, then I got asked to make one for a wedding and then I -- it just kind of escalated.
And then I make -- every graduation somebody bothers me to make a dress or help them cut something out. Yeah.
And then in the meantime, when our house burned down, Frank’s hands were burned pretty severely. It was a --
'Cause he was reaching for an Aladdin lantern to throw out when it ignited and he said -- you know, he needed to exercise his hands and that's how he got into doing bronzes. He would just take clay and do a little sculpting because he couldn’t do his taxidermy for probably three months.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Really. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Quite a long time, yeah, 'cause two and three layers of skin had been burned off. And second and third degree burns.
So it took quite a while to -- for that skin to grow back and then when it had grown back, it was -- it was real tender. It didn’t take hardly anything to, you know, cause it to bleed again or whatever.
So, but a friend of mine in Montana was doing some art work and he -- he sent me up some clay and said why don’t you try working with this stuff. It'll probably help get your dexterity back and -- and it's soft and it's not going to hurt your hands or anything.
And yeah, it really worked out slick. I was able to, you know, sculpt it around, move it around. Just make little images of animals and whatnot.
I know one day a friend of ours from Tok his -- one of his relatives came up who was an art gallery owner and when he saw these little miniatures that I was making he says, "Gee, you ought to send some of those to the foundry and have them cast."
He says, "You could probably sell those." So that kind of -- kind of perked my interest up and that's -- that's what ended up happening.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: So you sent them off to a foundry? You didn’t have your own kiln or anything?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Right. And actually what I did -- not knowing anything about the foundry process or whatnot I actually flew down to the foundry.
I took my original and flew down to the foundry and hand-carried it there and just worked with them through the entire process to actually learn how it was done.
And -- and also to make sure that they got it, you know, put together to my specifications.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: So where's the foundry? Where's that located?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Well, the first foundry I used was in Colorado. In Loveland, Colorado, but not long after that I actually started working with a foundry in Kalispell, Montana.
And I worked -- I worked with that foundry for years and years and years until the owner decided he wanted to move to Arizona 'cause Montana was getting too busy for him. And he's -- SUE ENTSMINGER: Or New Mexico?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Or he's in New Mexico now. And so I'm still working with him out of New Mexico and also a foundry out of the Salt Lake City area in Utah. Yeah.
SUE ENTSMINGER: So we're talking mostly about our income.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: I was going to ask did -- how did you learn -- where did you learn to trap? Had either of you trapped before you moved to Alaska or is that something you picked up while you were here?
SUE ENTSMINGER: Picked up while we were here. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, we picked up while we were here.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Anybody kind of teach you or guide you or --
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Most of it -- well, in the beginning it was just pretty well self-taught. SUE ENTSMINGER: Trial and error.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: I remember -- actually I developed an interest in photography. Took quite a bit of movie pictures -- old 18-mm movie pictures --
SUE ENTSMINGER: Sixteen millimeter. FRANK ENTSMINGER: And things of that nature.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: And then graduated to 16-mm. SUE ENTSMINGER: Oh, you did 18 first -- FRANK ENTSMINGER: Or 8-mm.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Oh, I was going to say 18-mm. That’s a new one on me. Eight millimeter then you went to 16.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Right. But I had met quite a few different pilots in Fairbanks and occasionally I’d get one of them to fly me off into remote areas for picture taking.
And I remember ending up over in Jimmy Brown Lake and there was a whole bunch of muskrat pushups there so --
And I had a couple of old rickety traps that I had brought just to keep the squirrels and mice and stuff out of my food stash so I --
SUE ENTSMINGER: Because you planned on a month.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah. So I started catching muskrats and that sort of thing. And then eventually we learned how to catch fox and stuff.
But we never could really catch a wolf. But this Danny Grangaard in Tok who was an excellent trapper he give us a few instructions on how to trap for wolves.
And I can remember the -- the first wolf I ever caught. It was pretty neat, you know. Once he explained it and explained what to do and how to do it.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And what not to do.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: It made a lot of sense. And it wasn’t really that difficult to do if you followed instructions.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And your nose didn’t run. And you had clean gloves.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: So anyway, that's kind of how we got into trapping.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And another background that you didn't -- left out that really has an impact on your life is four months in the Brooks Range photographing with the 16-mm.
Did you trap then? Did you ever trap any animals?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: No, although there was a fellow up there that was trapping.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Oh, that's right. It wasn’t during trapping season.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: It was during the summer. We went up there in April and then spent the entire summer up in the Wind River Valley in the -- in the Brooks Range.
And I learned a lot about wildlife in general and the outdoors and a lot about Alaska and that sort of thing.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And he was 24. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah, but as far trapping wise we -- we just mostly learned. Marten was the biggest thing that you'd trap because there's volumes of marten, so -- FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah.
SUE ENTSMINGER: So catching a wolverine and wolf was a big deal to us, yeah.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: And marten was more the, you know, the bread earner in trapping. SUE ENTSMINGER: The mainstay.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: The mainstay. You could always sell a marten for, you know -- SUE ENTSMINGER: Fifty bucks, maybe.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: X number of dollars. There was always a market.
SUE ENTSMINGER: But I made them into hats. We’d tan most of that fur after that and then I'd make it into hats.
Until the marten price got so high, I said I ain’t there. I can’t make a $700 hat. That’s ridiculous.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Nobody'll buy it at that price. SUE ENTSMINGER: Ridiculous. People were making nearly $200 for musk -- or marten -- one marten. You gotta have it tanned. I mean that’s crazy. Three marten for a hat.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: And for a few years, we spent a couple weeks in April -- the first two weeks in April -- SUE ENTSMINGER: Oh, that’s right.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Went down to Scottie Creek by the border and trapped beaver down there.
David James and his family lived in that area, but they -- beaver at that time was not bringing enough money in for them to warrant trapping. But with Susie, you know, -- SUE ENTSMINGER: Making --
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Making 'em into hats and whatnot, it kind of worked out for us so I got his permission and we went down there and -- and trapped beaver for a couple springs running.
And got some really, really nice hides.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Uh-huh. There's a lot of work in a beaver. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah. SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah, not just chopping the hole, but skinning the thing. Yeah. But it was -- it was just kind of a lifestyle for us.
And then we started -- you -- you had some time in the Nabesna country and then you had some time in the Chitina country and -- FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah.
SUE ENTSMINGER: I mean, we -- we -- living here gave us the opportunity to have a little more time to hunt for ourselves.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: And that's what I was going to ask about.
SUE ENTSMINGER: In Fairbanks, he was limited. He’d have just a -- what a 10 day period?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Well, yeah, there was actually -- Marty and I and then we ended up hiring a third person, but, you know, hunting season was our busiest time of the year.
That's when all the trophies were coming in and the people had to be there to take care of them.
But we worked out a deal to where we -- one guy could go hunting for a week or 10 days. As soon as he got back, the next guy would go out, so at least we got a little time off to --
SUE ENTSMINGER: But living here, we were our own boss and we didn’t have to -- we didn’t have to be in the shop and he could get work without being in the shop.
So we just -- we just spent most of the time hunting. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And even Matt -- he was going to school in Tok and they buy -- the Tok school -- the principal was a hunter and they would have moose days.
And so I would make sure that -- a lot of times we kept Matt out of school and he says if you don’t enroll him, you -- you -- school won’t start until he starts for him and he won’t be absent.
So we would keep Matt out and go hunting. And then by the time he was in ninth or tenth grade he said, "Mom, they hold all the work for me. I am tired of that."
He had to make it all up so he wasn’t too happy about it any more. He just decided going to school would be easier.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: He wasn’t really getting out of school at all.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah, he didn’t like that. So we would just make sure that we, you know, I told Frank if we were out hunting, I’d come back out and I’d get my kid and take him out with us.
Made a point that he was out with us on those long weekends, yeah.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: You know that was kind of lucky for me, because I actually started kind of specializing in sheep head mounts.
And I also did a lot of bear -- bear mounts, bear rugs and that sort of thing, but my clientele would just -- they would cape out their sheep and stick the cape in the freezer until, you know, after hunting season.
And then I could go to town and just pick the hides up and deal with them then. So I actually was able to get in quite a lot more hunting than I probably would have if I had stayed in Fairbanks.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Oh, yeah, that was great, yeah.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Then did you guide people, too? Were you acting -- did you guide?
SUE ENTSMINGER: Not at first. Well, you did back when you were -- in the '60’s.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, in the -- yeah, in the mid-'60’s, I got an assistant guide license and helped a fellow out in the Brooks Range for a little bit. Just for a few years.
And then also after we moved down here some of my other friends from the southern part of the state asked me to guide for them. So I reinstated my license and started -- SUE ENTSMINGER: Your assistant license.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: -- started guiding -- guiding for him.
SUE ENTSMINGER: That was just off and on that -- to start with. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Right. SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah. Uh-huh.
SUE ENTSMINGER: But once Matt grew up we -- we met Paul and Donna Claus and we met somebody that works for them and he was saying, "This is a nice little income."
And so our son, Matt, was interested and he worked for Paul and Donna for four years after he got out of high school. From the time he was 20 until he was 24, he worked for them.
And then by 1994, he got his registered license which got me involved in assistant guiding.
I ended up getting my license for -- and help him out. So Frank and I started helping Matt out in his -- when he started. Then we got in the guiding business.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, I had worked for Howard Knutson. You know Howard was in that Chitina area down there.
He was a -- he had a air taxi service and then became later -- became a guide for quite a while and I assistant guided with Howard for a few years.
And then when Matt, you know, he needed to figure out a way to make a living out in the woods so he decided to do some guiding and commercial fishing.
But I didn’t really want to be a guide per se, so I -- I just kept my assistant guide license and helped the family business out. Helped Matt -- Matt out with his guide operation.
SUE ENTSMINGER: I ended up getting my registered license I think in 2001. But we made a pack to each other that we would still save time for ourselves to go hunting. And we did that for a great many years.
And we loved to get out in the Wrangell’s and hunt where we always have been and it would -- I think we haven’t gone as a family since what 2007, we figure.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: A while back, yeah.
SUE ENTSMINGER: It's been a while now ago, yeah.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: When did you start hunting down in the Wrangell’s?
SUE ENTSMINGER: He probably started in ’69, you said?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, late '60’s, early '70’s.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: When you were working with Howard or -- FRANK ENTSMINGER: No, just pretty -- SUE ENTSMINGER: He was living in Fairbanks.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, just pretty much on my own.
And then I -- after some guys had brought in some pretty nice sheep from down there, I got interested in it and kind of headed down there on my own and started poking around. But also -- SUE ENTSMINGER: He hunted --
FRANK ENTSMINGER: -- a good friend of mine who was a pilot he -- he flew me into a few places down there.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And when we lived here, we started hunting on that Nabesna country for -- and went out in the Black Mountain country for a good many years.
And then we decided to head down Chitina or to McCarthy and we went back in all the -- the Nizina country and the Chitistone country.
And we've also boated up to the -- up the Chitina several times into that country. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, I remember -- SUE ENTSMINGER: The hard way.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: -- after they built the -- the bridge crossing the Chitina River down there or the Copper --
SUE ENTSMINGER: Oh, and you used to -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: The Chitina McCarthy Bridge?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah. Danny and I went down there one year and I remember going across the -- what is it, Kotsina there?
SUE ENTSMINGER: Kuskulana? FRANK ENTSMINGER: Kuskulana. SUE ENTSMINGER: Or is it Kotsina?
BARBARA CELLARIUS: No, it's the -- the big bridge is the Kuskulana. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yes. SUE ENTSMINGER: Yes, that's the one, yeah. Uh-huh.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: And there -- I mean it was just the railroad track. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Just the two -- ?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: It was just the railroad tracks that went there.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Did you see it then?
BARBARA CELLARIUS: No, I’ve heard. SUE ENTSMINGER: Holy cow!
FRANK ENTSMINGER: No guardrail or anything. And driving across that and it was late in the evening and whoever went before us kicked out a couple rail ties that were crossways out in the --
Fortunately, they didn’t get kicked off the bridge, but we had to get out and rearrange them and tuck them into place, so we could keep driving across the bridge.
SUE ENTSMINGER: But you said that there was only --
FRANK ENTSMINGER: There was absolutely no guardrail or anything on either side.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Three feet? Three feet is all you had on the other side of the truck? FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, it was -- it was a narrow bridge.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah. So when you opened the door, it was already off to the edge, you know, and you had --
FRANK ENTSMINGER: It's a little spooky, but what sheep hunters won’t do.
SUE ENTSMINGER: They're in their bodies and their truck so --
LESLIE McCARTNEY: So does your son still have the -- has a business then?
SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah, he does. Uh-huh. Frank said he -- Frank warned Matt that he was retiring, probably when you were my age. Early 60’s. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, and then I --
SUE ENTSMINGER: And then you went on to -- when was the last time you guided a hunter?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Probably for you over there in Delta.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Three years ago? FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah. Uh-huh, something like that.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Three or four years ago. So you were like 68. And I don’t think I'm going to make 68.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Oh, you will. SUE ENTSMINGER: Not guiding.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: She had a sheep hunter and moose hunter out last fall. SUE ENTSMINGER: Last year, and my brain told me I don’t need to do this.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: And the guy wanting -- the guy wants to come back he had such a good trip and time. He wants to come back and hunt with her again.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah. Well, I remember you saying -- telling Matt I'll only take the 70 year olds. Okay, that's what I'm at. I'm right there. I'll only take the 70 year olds.
That guy was 48. I'm 62 and it's like -- I mean and he was fine. Everything was good. It's just that I had to have a packer. I had Jeremy from Mentasta. Do you know Jeremy? BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-uhn.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Oh, that's -- do you know Myria? BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Her -- her old man.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay. SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah. He's only like -- how old -- what'd we figure he is, 6'4" or 6'2"?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: 6'2", I believe.
SUE ENTSMINGER: 6'2" and he -- he lost 24 pounds with me in 17 days.
Or 14 days 'cause he didn’t start with me. My client, who was already skinny, lost --
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Must've been that freeze-dried food, huh? SUE ENTSMINGER: Sixteen pounds.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: And who was doing the cooking?
SUE ENTSMINGER: It's all on our back. Freeze-dried. It's backpack hunting so, yeah, yeah.
At any rate, yeah, I was boiling water. I was doing the cooking. I was the person.
And I didn’t lose that much weight. I only lost four pounds. Same amount of time they did, yeah.
But, yeah, I mean you just -- your body does tell you that maybe I shouldn’t do this to myself. And my knee doctor told me, he says, "If you keep doing that, your quality of your life -- end of your life is not going to be good." So, yeah.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: But you're still doing the taxidermy?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: A little. But mostly -- mostly sculpting. SUE ENTSMINGER: Very little.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Mostly sculpting, yeah.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yep. Yeah, and I'll probably -- I hope -- hopefully I can do that until I croak.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Being self-employed all our lives we did not plan a very healthy retirement, so we're going to be working for a while both of us. He's 71 now, but yeah.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Well, I see here that you must have published a book here. 2013. Is this your book?
SUE ENTSMINGER: These are just -- those are photo albums. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Photo albums.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah, that you put together with your pictures. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh, I see.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: All this modern technology.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: I see. Right, okay. And send them off to be published? Yeah.
SUE ENTSMINGER: I tried it -- my hand at writing, but they laugh at my writing, so --
Actually, took two journalism classes in Fairbanks. Before we came out here I was going to be a big writer. That kind of fizzled.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: Since you've been on the land for quite a while have you noticed a lot of changes in animal population or what -- how the land's changed at all or has it?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Well, there's been a tremendous change since I came up in the early '60’s.
Of course, when I arrived on the scene, didn’t really know how good we had it back in those days, you know. It was -- it was prior to any of the Native Land Claims Settlement Acts.
You could still -- white man could still hunt marine mammals, polar bears and all of that sort of thing.
There was -- there was no limit on caribou north of the Yukon River. The bag limits were pretty liberal on most of the other animals and whatnot.
I remember, of course, you know, I was an avid sheep hunter. I got interested in hunting sheep right off the bat in Alaska.
But that summer that a good friend and I spent in the Brooks Range really sparked an interest in hunting sheep.
But at -- at that time there was a tremendous sheep population up there and the Department of Fish & Game were trying to get people to go up there and hunt.
And for two years running in ’68 and ’69, they opened the season July 20th until September 20th for a two ram bag limit just to get the guides interested in going up there and taking clients out and that sort of thing.
But I remember a guide friend of mine going into the department and arguing with them about, you know, you really need to put a season and bag limit on caribou in the Brooks Range, he said.
I mean, even if it's 100 caribou, he says, you should put some kind of a limit on them.
But anyway, I mean, I kind of messed up because I had an opportunity to hunt polar bear, but I was too busy in the taxidermy shop. Couldn’t get away and -- and that kind of slipped through my fingers, but anyway I mean it was -- it was remarkable.
SUE ENTSMINGER: A lot of changes.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: It was remarkable, you know, in the -- in the '50s, the federal government was trying to annihilate the predators up here. The wolves and the bears and whatnot.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Even, you said, there was a bounty on eagles.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, well, they -- they had just dropped the bounty on eagles a year or two before we arrived on the scene. It was a two dollar bounty on eagles.
Fifty dollar bounty on wolves. And back in those days that was big money.
SUE ENTSMINGER: That's a lot of money.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Thirty-five dollars for a wolverine, that sort of thing.
SUE ENTSMINGER: They even had a bounty on wolverine?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Oh, yeah. Uh-huh. Yeah. The state or the -- SUE ENTSMINGER: That's another new one on me.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: And, you know, the -- you know, we came up in ’62 and -- and ’59 was when Alaska became a state, so it wasn’t long -- it hadn’t been a state very long and it was --
it was, you know, with all that predator control done by the federal government, the ungulates by then had -- was really on the rebound. SUE ENTSMINGER: Exploded.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: There was moose everywhere, big herds of caribou. At the time, there was like two caribou for every person that lived in Alaska.
The, you know, the Arctic or the Western Arctic Herd was, you know, like three, four hundred thousand animals,
The Porcupine Herd was 250,000 animals strong and even the, you know, the Fortymile Herd back then was -- nobody really knew how many animals, but it was a minimum of 60 to 80,000 animals back at that time.
The Denali Highway, they had three -- they had a three caribou bag limit in the Nelchina Basin. That sort of thing. It ran all, you know, all the way from August until March.
It was -- it was a heyday for -- for hunters and that sort of thing.
And, but then, slowly things started changing, you know. Things started happening.
You know, they discovered oil on the North Slope and they wanted to get that haul road built. So they had to make a settlement with the Native people and, you know, that's when that all came about.
And I remember us in the taxidermy shop thinking, oh, boy, this is the end of Alaska when they discovered oil 'cause we knew there'd be a huge influx of people from the Lower 48 and whatnot. And it was a big change and whatnot.
And then, of course, the Marine Mammal Act went into effect, so there was -- there was some big changes.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Well, and then, in our time, ANIL -- first it was the Antiquities Act in 1978 and then it was ANILCA in 1980 (Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act), so -- FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, and -- SUE ENTSMINGER: And all those changes.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: All those areas -- SUE ENTSMINGER: Really changed -- FRANK ENTSMINGER: -- that we used to be able to just go out and hunt it was all different land status and then the, you know, then the --
SUE ENTSMINGER: Then the subsistence law came into play in ’78, also. Stevens pushed that prior to, I think, that Antiquities Act that -- you remember the date of that -- subsistence law. I think it was -- I remember it being ’78.
I remember no one understanding what it meant and somebody -- actually it's Tommy Craig in Mentasta, he says, "There's a subsistence law on the book. We could get a subsistence season."
And we tried to do something at -- I was on the Fish & Game Advisory Committee for the Tok Cutoff/Nabesna Road at the time and he was pushing this -- to do something and we did something with caribou. I can’t remember what it was.
And it might have been the Denali. I don’t remember.
I don’t remember if it was that or Nabesna or the Mentasta’s --
But there was some kind of a state season changed, because this was prior to any federal subsistence stuff.
And then I remember, let’s see now, for the longest time it was -- after the park came, it was being done by the Board of Game and they were doing the -- the Board of Game was making all the regulations and for like -- and they were doing it under rural. And then that was sued.
And I mean, you guys know the history I guess, but once that was sued by McDowell is the state was given two years to remedy the problem and they never did. And so the Feds started the Federal Subsistence Board.
And that's when we started seeing two different sets of regulations. And it has evolved tremendously. So, there's a huge change in how we were working in regulation process.
We only had one board and we were seeing the regulation process with one board and going to one board and it being the same statewide to now when the federal board came over, they just took all the state stuff over, and but it was all piecemeal.
None of it was clear. And -- and then just time after time we -- we noticed that, oh, gee, we need a subsistence season if we're going to hunt over there.
So then you start working within the system to try to make regulations to have opportunity and it's -- Barbara, came in the middle of all that I'm sure that --
And -- and for us it was -- it was quite a learning process to figure out. We -- we joke you need an attorney to interpret the regulations, you need a land surveyor to tell you where you're at, and I forgot what the third one was. There was a third one.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Probably a guide.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Just to understand regulations. We was just joking about it all the time. And it's still the case.
You still have to know the land status to understand the regulations.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Well, and in the case of Wrangell-St. Elias, too, I was pretty active with our local advisory committee the State, you know, Advisory Committee.
SUE ENTSMINGER: So just to clarify. I was on Tok Cutoff/Nabesna Road when he was on the one up in Upper Tanana. And somebody said, "Where's the boundary?" They said, "I think it's Frank and Sue’s bedroom."
But I was on the Board of Game, so I had served on that one nine years and I don’t know when you started in Tok, but I -- I left that to be on the Board of Game 'cause I couldn’t be on the Board of Game and on an AC at the same time.
And I never ended up back on it, but you ended up sometime at the same -- when I was -- you were on it sometime during the time I was on it.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, I can’t really remember. I was a member up there for quite some time.
SUE ENTSMINGER: I think I started in ’79. I think you started in the '80’s and you've been on it since.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: And there was several people that chaired the committee, but -- and then I remember when Bill Miller resigned and I suddenly become the chairperson for Upper Tanana Fortymile AC.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And you were for a long time.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: And then, so -- and I was appointed to the State Federal -- What did they call that? That was the equivalent of your RAC, right now.
SUE ENTSMINGER: You were -- oh, you mean that time when they had Regional Advisory Council, but the state was running the program? FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yes. Yeah. Uh-huh.
SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah, they were both Regional Advisory Councils.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Right. And then I got on -- I got on the Wrangell SRC at the same time I was chairing the Upper Tanana Advisory Committee.
And suddenly realized that none of these Upper Tanana Native communities or Tok for that matter -- SUE ENTSMINGER: Tok was in. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Tok got in for -- SUE ENTSMINGER: To start with.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: As resident zone communities, but none of the Native people had gotten in.
So I -- I kind of got things going to, you know, to get them included. And, you know, and there was a lot. SUE ENTSMINGER: Were you here then?
FRANK ENTSMINGER: There was a lot of dissension from the Native people and they were -- they were, you know, claiming that the -- "Well, you were just looking out for yourself. You just -- you got Tok in, but you didn’t get the Native people in."
And I said, "Well, it's kind of like a boat sinking. You got to save yourself first, then you can save other people." But anyway I got on the --
SUE ENTSMINGER: We didn’t really know that's what was going on. FRANK ENTSMINGER: No, we didn’t -- SUE ENTSMINGER: At the time. FRANK ENTSMINGER: -- really even know what was going on, but --
SUE ENTSMINGER: We just knew you had to -- if you wanted to get anywhere you had to go to the meetings and fight to be included and -- FRANK ENTSMINGER: Right, which I -- and which I did.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And the Native people -- those communities that Frank was fighting to get in had not done that. And he saw that it's not -- it's very unfair that the communities around Tok -- the Native communities around Tok wasn’t included. So he started this process with his AC. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, and it took like -- SUE ENTSMINGER: It took eight years. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, seven or eight years to finally --
SUE ENTSMINGER: Eight years to get all those communities in. FRANK ENTSMINGER: For people included in the --
SUE ENTSMINGER: Were they in when you got here?
BARBARA CELLARIUS: I was here on the very, very tail end, because they had as part of the regulation there was a requirement that boundaries be established. SUE ENTSMINGER: Oh, what a battle. BARBARA CELLARIUS: And so -- SUE ENTSMINGER: You were here for that. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yes. Yeah. Uh-huh.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: I -- I helped with the boundaries. 'Cause after the Federal Register notice adding the communities to the list was published. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Uh-huh. SUE ENTSMINGER: Uh-huh.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: And some of the communities chose to establish boundaries, but other --
SUE ENTSMINGER: I think Dot Lake was the only one, wasn’t it? FRANK ENTSMINGER: Yeah, I think Dot Lake was the only one.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: Dot Lake was the only one that had a boundary when I came in and I went to all of the communities and visited them.
And said -- I liked work with them to get their recommendations about what they would like to see for boundaries.
SUE ENTSMINGER: But then when Martin came in, we got rid of all these boundaries because they were kind of foolish. They were -- they were little postage stamps around --
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Well, there were proposals for boundaries, but the boundary system was never adopted under most of the communities.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: For all of the original 18 communities, there are no boundaries. SUE ENTSMINGER: Okay.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: For the Upper Tanana communities, it was a condition of the regulation that boundaries would be established.
So they -- that was -- would be added, the communities that was a condition.
SUE ENTSMINGER: So is there -- what happens between communities then? What happens to the people between communities?
BARBARA CELLARIUS: Then they can hunt in the Preserve. SUE ENTSMINGER: They're not included? BARBARA CELLARIUS: They're not included in the resident zones.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: Well, that see that was our big -- SUE ENTSMINGER: That's the problem.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: -- complaint when they were trying to draw boundaries around the original communities. So what about these people in the middle who are not in a community, but certainly just as rural, if not more rural, than people in the communities?
I mean why -- why can’t they participate in hunting? So we kicked it around back and forth for the longest time and we were pressured into trying to draw boundaries.
And then superintendent came along and, you know, one guy left, the next guy came in. SUE ENTSMINGER: Wade. Karen Wade left. FRANK ENTSMINGER: And they decided -- SUE ENTSMINGER: Bill Martin came in. FRANK ENTSMINGER: -- we don’t need any boundaries.
SUE ENTSMINGER: You guys talked him into it.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: So we just dropped the whole boundary designation, and we included everybody. SUE ENTSMINGER: So, I didn’t realize that. FRANK ENTSMINGER: People in between the communities.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: The lines are pretty vague for the Upper Tanana boundaries. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Uh-huh.
BARBARA CELLARIUS: But there are boundaries.
SUE ENTSMINGER: 'Cause it just seems unfair if people are in between and they have to deal with it differently. It should all be the same.
These are the kinds of changes that are very, very hard to even -- I’m in -- I'm in this --
Now serve on the Regional Advisory Council under the federal system, which I don’t know how long it was in play 'til I got on. I got on 2001, I think. And you had been on back in the '90’s. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Uh-huh. SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah. Or was it -- probably the '90’s. FRANK ENTSMINGER: Uh-huh. Yeah.
SUE ENTSMINGER: And then, I mean, just to see how the whole thing has evolved and you're there and you're working in the process and you still wonder, "Now what’s the regulation?"
It's hard to wrap your head around it sometimes, yeah.
And it's gotten so complicated. And I know, even talking to people in Mentasta, they wish there was one system. The two systems are really difficult for the user to understand so --
Big changes have come. Yeah. Do we like them? No. Do we have to work with them? Yes.
FRANK ENTSMINGER: And I'm sure there's more to come. SUE ENTSMINGER: Yeah.
LESLIE McCARTNEY: I'm just going to change the tape right now. SUE ENTSMINGER: Okay. LESLIE McCARTNEY: If that's okay with you?