Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Lydia Simon

Like her sister, Mary Vent, Lydia Simon had the chance to learn traditional stories and lore from her parents. She and Wendy Arundale worked together in the late afternoon of Thursday, July 23, 1992 in the living room area of her home. In the taping session, Lydia tells the story of the first potlatch held by the animals. The story is told in English with appropriate sound effects and exclamations by the participants. She also sang some of the songs the animals sang at the first potlatch. Several aspects of the story parallel and explain current potlatch practices. Lydia also talked a little bit about how people prepare for potlatches today.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 93-15-10

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Jul 23, 1992
Narrator(s): Lydia Simon
Interviewer(s): Wendy Arundale
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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Sections

1) The story of the first potlatch

2) Songs

3) The potlatch today

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Transcript

Section 1: distant time -- everything was human, birds, fish, animals, wolverine\ Doyon -- big\ fox -- smart\ fox -- goes hunting\ fish traps -- dead fall -- kills wolverine\ fox -- says "big shot died"\ potlatch -- bury him, make song|

Section 2: father -- used to be good storytellers\ words -- sing old words, high words\ fox -- made song\ songs -- three generation past good songs\ potlatch -- food, gifts\ owl|

Section 3: Attla, Eliza\ Franklin Jr.\ Bifelt, Ralph\ Dewild, Allen\ potlatch -- for all of them\ gifts -- slippers, boots, vests, mooseskin gloves, mittens, marten hats, blankets, socks\ possessions -- deceased's, given away\ old days -- teach often to sing, dance\ Attla, Catherine\ Franklin, Madeline\ Amelia\ change -- happening too close together now\ old days -- tuberculosis\ today -- suicide, knife, car, airplane|