John Nelson, Jr. was interviewed on November 2, 1999 by Don Callaway and Bill Schneider in Kokhanok, Alaska. In this interview, John talks about growing up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle of hunting and trapping and how that has changed with the establishment of Katmai National Park and new ways to access traditional areas, including snowmachines and all-terrain vehicles (ATV's). He also talks about serving on the village council, community concerns about hunting regulations and impacts from the increased number of sporthunting lodges, and village health problems and lack of services. John also offers advice for younger people, especially having subsistence skills and knowing their family and community history.
Digital Asset Information
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His mother and the villages he grew up in
His father and learning about subsistence activities
Trapping techniques and trapping areas
Ways to access the Preserve with snowmachines or four-wheelers
Major routes to the Preserve boundary
Trails to access the Preserve and enthusiasm for trapping
Areas where he takes moose and caribou and the last moose he caught
The last caribou he caught, fishing areas, and types of fish
His experiences and training as village council president
How decisions are made in the community
Village council services and employment
Community's concern for access to the Preserve
Respect for elders and how to get information on big game
Development of lodges in the Kokhanok area
More about lodges and Fish and Game disagreements
The increase in the number of people and activity in the area
Increase in bear population
Working proposals regarding subsistence through government channels
Giving advice to young people concerning the future and jobs
More fishing spots and the Kokhanok Winter Carnival
The villages that come to the Winter Carnival and health services
The major health problems and acceptance of new technology in villages
The impact that new modes of transportation have had on life
His desire for young people to learn local history, significant decisions in life, and his goals for the village
The impact of new technology on village life
The history of the community
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BS: OK..OK...OK...Today is November 2nd, 1999. I'm Bill Schneider and Don Callaway is here too and uh we're going to uh do and interview uh this afternoon with Jon Nelson and uh his brother Jackie is here too, and so thanks for taking the time to do this and uh Don is going to do most of the interviewing here so I'll just pass this on to Don...and I'll monitor. OK, Don. DC: Thanks again for having us here John. JN: Welcome Bill...I mean Don. DC: um... Could you tell us a little bit about your parents and where they came from, where you were born and grew up. JN: First of all, I was born in...born in Dillingham, raised up in three villages before I came to Kokhanok. I first lived on at Levelock about two years and about Igiugig for about three years and about 1965, '66 we moved, my mother moved to Kokhanok and that's where we lived down at the green Quonset hut like I indicated to you..both to you and Bill earlier so...and I've been living here ever since. DC: What was your mom's last name? JN: My mom's maiden name was Mary Newyaka...um he passed away back away in July of 1970 or '71. DC: Your mom passed away... JN: No, my mom's father. DC: Your mom's father... JN: Yeah. And my mom's been...my mom was born and raised here in Kokhanok and is still living here today. Currently, she is out visiting a relative out in Anchorage. DC: And what's her name? JN: Mary C: Mary JN: Yeah. Her last name is Nelson, Her maiden name was Newyaka.
DC: How 'bout your dad, where was he born? JN: My dad was originally from the Levelock area and I...I...see my mom and dad split up, divorce when I was small baby back in 1960, so after I was born. Somewheres in the late '60s they divorced and my mom came back up here to where she was born then my dad's going around with another lady down in Levelock. So, currently right now, they're...she's living at Igiugig right now. DC: um... So how old were you when you came back to Kokhanok? JN: I was going on my sixth...going on seven years old, when I first came to Kokhanok. DC: And um how did you learn to uh engage in subsistence activities? How'd you learn to hunt, fish...? JN: Basically I...see at that time when I...before subsistence activities, I'd been living with my mom, 'cause my mom was... and I can recall livin' down at fish camp when our smokehouse was just a fairly small smokehouse. That's when my mom first and Jackie was just a little baby then too, still in diapers and I can recall them because I used to baby-sit him and my brother Timmy and ever since that and I've been growing up with the subsistence lifestyle in the village and it's...and it's still here today and I hope it goes on forever. DC: Who uh...who taught you to hunt? Who'd you go out with? JN: Well I'd...people, the elderly people that's in the village like for example I'll give you Nick Mike, Gregory Mike, the late , the late Willy Rickteroff. I used to go, they still huntin' with 'em and that's how I became affiliated with huntin' and fishin' so that...and I learned the majority of my techniques from the elders from Kokhanok so...That would be the same situation as trappin' cause I didn't have no father when I was growing up and I...only way I learned was by asking questions, then doing it myself and..for reality it took quite a while for me to learn 'cause it's, you know, people have different techniques of trapping and stuff like that. I'll take, for example, like beaver trapping it took me about two and a half months to catch my first beaver, that's when I first started trapping beaver so...
DC: Tell us about how you uh trapped beaver. JN: Basically, I was taught by I guess the late Gregory Wasallie, that's how I learned his techniques by using snares and chopping holes through the ice and that's how I learned. And also for example with um Gregory I learned many of their...their techniques from them also too so... DC: And you still trap? JN: mmm hmm...I still trap. DC: What...what do you trap? JN: The last...the last two years I haven't been able to do nothing cause first year was no snow and last year the ice was too thick and we didn't have...there's too much snow then the going was tough and the ice was pretty thick and too it was pretty cold then. Ice froze to...Lake Iliamna froze to about five feet thick. DC: mmm JN: Pretty...some places pretty near six feet. BS: OK JN: And I just want to rephrase last year too I didn't be able to participate in subsistence in because of my broken leg. I broke my tibia and the fibia so... It took about eight months to heal up so...I'm healed up now hopefully so.. DC: When you do trap, where is your normal trapping area? JN: Usually towards the Gibraltar Lake area, the whole lake. As we...majority of us that trap up there we just share the area and I have my own line towards going on towards Big Mountain. In fact, I can show you on the map and maybe we can give you a rough idea where the location is. BS: They're pulling out the maps now. JN: Usually its right around the Dennis...the east end of Dennis Creek right here and up at the Cottonwoods. I'm beginning to go further and further and further back into the actually the south which is going into the preserve because, for scout for a new area so... DC: And how do you access that uh...? JN: Majority of my accessibility is by snowmachine, which is during the wintertime.
DC: Do you use uh four-wheelers to get in there sometime? JN: Um...Only time I use four-wheelers is probably mid-winter. Where's the where's the first part of spring. That's when the snow gets compact and really hard so...so for the duration of that I just use, mainly travel by snowmachine. DC: Could you draw on this map here uh, John, the major access points to the preserve in terms of uh four-wheeler trails. JN: Well, actually um snowmachines I can probably go from Kokhanok, I usually go to...we can go two routes, I usually go up to Kokhanok to Gibraltar then cut across along side the mountain line here or utilize the old dog team trail that which goes up to the Cottonwoods, which is right up here. But, majority of my times I just use the uh use like the old dog team trail that goes...goes up there. I'm not going to be accurate, but I'm just saying, giving an estimation so... DC: Yeah, sure. JN: Its right up to here so...And this is what they call the Cottonwoods area so and then another route is I go up to Gibraltar then go along the other...along side the mountain here. And also I've trapped down here at the east end of um Dennis Creek which is called the Newyaka's Timberline so...I guess the reason why they call it Newyaka's Timberline is that where my mom...my mom's parents used to have a camp down here and then it's right now we won't be able to see the camp because it all them trees, new trees, new growth that's taken over and stuff like that so...That one year when we had no snow it was still trappin' and I did find the garbage pit inside treelines in here so I...so I was assuming it might be my father's so...my great grandpa so... DC: Now this is called Cottonwood what? JN: We've always called it Cottonwoods.
DC: Cottonwoods...OK, could you draw, just roughly the major routes here to get to the preserve boundary before we start... JN: Use...um...well, actually during the wintertime we can probably go up to this route, uh west end of this fish...we've always called this mountain Fish Camp Mountain, which is this mountain right here. We can see it further back here, if we can see it. We usually go up to here then get into the preserve, back...then we go around. Or either go into this way to. DC: You can draw heavy on those... JN: OK, so usually go up the mountain here then we just, we can, once you're out on top the mountain base than you can, its pretty, you can go either direction because of the good terrain for a good going for snowmachine. Its fabulous going once you get on top the mountain ridge it...you can just go and go and go either way so.. DC: uh huh JN: And further on down this way, my friend Gilbert and I we usually just...we've always talked about new...new stomping grounds for trapping but we never really did nothing 'cause we were all just talkin' 'cause we're always scoutin' for new areas. Basically, once you get into the mountain then you can go either direction with exception of east, which is the mountain right over here, so... DC: Is there another trail this way into the... JN: Um...yes there's another trail that's accessible DC: east JN: That's looking going towards east of Cottonwoods, uh and the main trail goes up to here from Kokhanok goes up to Gibraltar, which is at the mouth... DC: Right JN: Cross to mouth then you follow the beach a little way until you get to the knoll on the lake here, I'll just give an estimation trail, then there's a trail going right up to the mountain, they crosses this creek twice to go to other side and then you cross it again and get to other side and then it...there's a big knoll here we climbed that to the center and we, the road goes all the way up to the top up here. I'm just giving a... DC: Sure...its just reference for... JN: Rough estimates so once you get on top here then there's only one...one from my perspective we can get up on this route, other than the wintertime we can go anywheres from see like I explained before, in the wintertime, we can go anywhere with snowmachines.
JN: Come springtime and falltime it's pretty hard over here on the Cottonwoods side to try to climb up because of the steep terrain. Its more easier to go up on this other mountain here to climb up to here to get into the preserve. BS: What do you call this mountain here? JN: Um...I don't have a...I've always called both of these mountain tops here Fish Camp Mountain. BS: OK DC: OK...Now this more recently... JN: Then once you get to the top base of the mountain here then there's only one trail and like we said before once we get down into the base of the mountain than pretty much it disperses out to...'cause you can go any direction. DC: OK. And this is a three-wheeler...or four-wheeler trail JN: Three and four-wheeler trail, yes. DC: OK. And this more snowmachine or do they use... JN: This is, basically, this the trail from Kokhanok to Gibraltar that's the old original dog team trail. DC: OK JN: And also the trail that's going to the Cottonwoods, that was a dog team trail too, that was going down to Big Mountain and stuff like that goes down to here so... DC: uh huh. JN: See it goes pretty much over to here so I'm...I'm...it's just an estimation of the route, the old dog team trail so... DC: Did this route here also uses four-wheelers... JN: Um...once in a while, but I'm giving you the winter access route from my...my partions...and I've gone down there couple of times and I haven't been back here since I'd say past year and a half so...last year we, I don't think, none of us hardly gone up there because of the high water. DC: The higher water at Gibraltar? JN: mmm hmm...at the mouth. DC: At the mouth of Gibraltar? JN: Yeah, if the water is high up here then we're no going to be able to cross the river to be able to go up to here. DC: How bout uh fur prices and the changes in fur prices uh affected your enthusiasm? JN: Um...it...it somewhat kinda affected my enthusiasm. It basically probably affected everybody. But then, when I, from my lifetime I've seen a gradual decrease in trapping, because I don't know why...maybe because of the accessibility or no transportation.
DC: How bout uh where do you normally take uh caribou? JN: I normally take caribou in the preserve. Majority of my traps is in the preserve. Then during the wintertime we can go further beyond into the preserve, which is the Kukaklek area we go down to all the way down to Igiugig and beyond Igiugig and over to over here to Grants Lagoon and sometimes we go over to Lower Talarik Creek. DC: OK JN: Or to Upper Talarik Creek, sometimes right at the village of Newhalen, below Newhalen. DC: OK. How bout moose? Where would you normally...? JN: Majority of the our mooses is at the Cottonwoods, the Dennis Creek Cottonwoods, up the bay here and into the bay over here from Tommy Point all the way around. DC: And uh...over last five or six years uh how many moose did you take in? JN: I haven't caught a moose in the past two years uh my last catch was probably in 1997, that was down here at uh Dennis Creek. DC: And who did you share that with? JN: I shared a majority with the village and the people that hunted with me, 'cause we, we've always shared there's...I don't know...my tradition is always shared every time you catch big game so... DC: So...would you cut it up and distribute it to people or would....? JN: Yeah, it's um...it's cut up right at the site and we, if it's packable, we pack everything down to the boat and we just take everything home and then we just...once we get back home we disperse it out. Most of it, dispersement goes out to the elders of the village so... DC: And who did you hunt with when you caught that moose? JN: um... I think there was Gilbert Andrew and Steve and um William Wassillie, that was my last catch I had...so DC: And how did you take a skiff four-wheelers on it? or did you? JN: um...Just a skiff and we walked DC: Skiff and walking JN: yeah...That was more easier cause it's along water so... It was good weather too then. We can't usually depend on the weather, but you can probably depend on the weather if you're on four-wheeler and three-wheeler 'cause its...its...the road is there the accessibility is there.
DC: How 'bout caribou? Where did you last take a caribou? JN: Caribou. My last catch was in the preserve. um... about 19...mid 1997 um...August month. DC: mmm hmm...Did you access that by four-wheeler? JN: Yeah. Then one of the catches is right there. DC: Oh, I see. You got a picture of it. JN: uh huh DC: And who'd ya hunt with on that...? JN: On that trip that was um Gary Nielson and Johnny Mike. DC: ah...and you JN: uh huh...and me DC: How many caribou did you guys take? JN: Ahh...we ended up taking three of 'em. I caught one, Johnny caught one, and Gary got one. That would was probably right...right...right...little inside the boundary over here. DC: Right here. JN: Yeah. Before Funnel Creek. DC: um... How 'bout fishing? Where do you normally do your fishing? JN: Sport fishing, we majority of our fishing is up here then down at the fish camp then up to Kokhanok, right outside the Kokhanok Bay. DC: Could you point to fish camp? JN: Fish camp is right there. DC: Right here? JN: Yeah... Then we do a majority of our fishin' at the mouth of the Gibraltar. DC: OK JN: And we do our fishing out side of Kokhanok. Wintertime we can go all over. I go furthest I've been going fishing is to Tommy River, which is over here. DC: Is that ice fishing you're talking 'bout than? You jig for 'em? JN: Well, we...we usually jig for 'em, yeah. The majority of fish in is over there into the bay, the Copper River. Right over here, Copper River..the whole... DC: yeah JN: yeah DC: And you take salmon there? JN: um...We mostly take Rainbows and Dolly Vardens and um pike. DC: And where do you take most of your salmon? Down at fish camp? JN: uh...We take majority of our sockeye salmon down...up at the Gibraltar in the fish camp. DC: And how many uh reds would you put away for a year uh...? JN: My mom averages about, our family household averages about thousand. DC: Thousand JN: Twelve hundred average. But the average is about a thousand DC: And how many people will that feed...that would be you, your mom...? JN: Actually, that whole amount of fish what my mom puts up carries us out through the winter. DC: I'm trying get how many people that would feed. JN: That would be about four people. Plus..plus we give some away too for...um...for friends and stuff so...my mom's friends anyway.
DC: Now uh I know you've been uh...how long you been city council...what's your position at the city council? JN: My position right now is president. I'm going on my third term as president with the village council. DC: And...are they three year terms? JN: Yeah. And I was interim-president for one year. DC: So you've been city council president for almost a decade. JN: Almost a decade. DC: Does that uh..does that make it hard for you to get out on the land and do stuff like that... JN: That...it makes it...compared to today versus five years ago...five years ago I could've gone out and do whatever I wanted, compared to today there is so much paperwork involvement. A lot of paperwork and it's...it's a world of paperwork. It's puttin' a lot of burden at the office compared to what I want to do so... DC: What kind of things do you do at the office? Grants...? JN: I do grants, reports, payroll, stuff like that...day to day management. DC: Where do you get you're training to do this? JN: I got my training from the Seward Skill Center. DC: Ah. JN: Now it called so... I took the..I took a fourteen month course in um accounting and clerk typist. DC: Ah... And that...those give you the skills... JN: Yeah. DC: to be able to handle the uh budget... JN: Yeah. I wish I could have furthered my education, but I decided not to so... DC: You went to high school here in Kokhanok? JN: Yeah. I went to two years at Bristol Bay down at Naknek and two years at home. Under the Molly Hooch case, I guess. DC: Yeah...huh. JN: Molly Hooch case was on during my time when I was in high school so.. DC: What uh...when did you go to the uh Seward thing...? JN: September of 1979, got out uh first part of June 1990, I mean um '80. DC: '80.
DC: And what did you do between then and becoming uh village council president? JN: After I got out then um there's a vacancy on the village council and I got on and um I got re-elected and I've been with the council ever since. Basically, I first got on...on with the village council as a member since 1977 so... I've been with the village council since then. And its take me about fourteen years to become president so...And if...I've enjoyed it. There's...but there are lot of flaws in it too 'cause it there's decisions out there that need to be made and sometimes I feel that I felt feel like I make the wrong decisions and people start talking and...I'm which...of course, I'm pretty used to so... DC: Tell me about how...how decisions are made in the community. JN: Usually decisions are made if...if an immediate decision needs to be made its usually made by me with a referral to the board members verbally. But, usually its based on a decision at the council meeting with the village council involved making decisions. If an urgent answer is needed then I usually confer with the board and come back with an answer so...I usually confer with with the my vice-president. DC: You wanna pause here, Bill? BS: um...I think we're OK. DC: um...What...what kind of issues to you have to deal with in the village council? JN: Well...the biggest issue now today is people don't understand is the compacting versus contracting. See, before BB...and which is BBNA, we're with the association of BBNA and we're still a member of them today so... Before there used to be contracting, now there's compacting with the federal government. All issues today um... BS: Back on.. JN: Issue today, the biggest one to me is with what the public don't understand is um probably the compacting which means direct dollar being flowed to the villages. 'Cause before when I first took over the council, the village council had hardly any dollars as compared today. Compared to today, we have and excess of maybe four hundred thousand. At one time, we were almost at half a million...dollars operation.
DC: Could you talk about the services and the people who are employed... JN: Services, um...I've seen a great big jump in employment with the village council because of the need 'cause we...we basically we operate the electric utility which needs man power for operation and administration. I deal with both. And the clinic, work out there, we took over the clinic from federal government. In other words, we released...received lease dollars from the federal government for operation of the clinic and we, in return, hire a custodian and we, the village council, has many sorts of funding to get supplies for that. And also the water...the newest one is the water and sewer department, and which serves the whole village of Kokhanok so... It's a pretty big, to me personally, I think its a pretty big task, for operating a government 'cause its...'cause you always gone be dealing with, I don't....I don't know...I've always called them irate customers, you know people that get mad... DC: 'Cause their service gets interrupted? JN: Their service gets interrupted 'cause they...basically I see the tribal government as a business, just like running a business. DC: That's tough when you're in a community that considers itself a family. JN: Yes. It's pretty tough and its...been a...I guess people respect the...I guess..I...I've always heard that, I think I'm...they say saying I'm doing a good job of which you know...I've always turn myself down for not doing a good job and stuff like like 'cause there's there's a lot of opportunities out there and I'm not taking advantage of 'em. Like for example, grants and stuff like that it's...like I said before it's a lot of paper work involving anything now days compared to ten years ago. You have to have everything documented.
DC: Could...could you talk a little bit about the history of uh the council and the community's concern for access to the preserve? When did it come up and how that started? JN: Well my, during my...during my term with the village council the issue with the park service came up about five years ago and um this is with the previous we had previous meetings with the park service and the last superintendent that came here which was um Bill Pearson. He was the one that addressed to the village council that something was going to be going on in the...down the road in regards to the preserve, which we are doing now today so... And that...that was one of the big issues that was my concern so... Other people, people don't realize what's going on because of them not participating...cause I've...In my duration for the village council, its always the board that's in attendance, and the public needs to be involved in decision making process, but when it comes down to maybe dealings like this with, for example, the interviews and people are always willing to participate and Kokhanok is always good for that and I...I respect that. DC: How many are on the council JN: um... Right now today we have five board members. DC: mmm hmm JN: As when it first started back in 1966, I believe which started...they started off with five. John Nielson, Shirley Nielson, and the late Willy Rickteroff where the first council members. DC: How bout uh, you mentioned earlier that there's services provided for the elders...the meals and stuff? JN: Yeah, um that's under the program under the Bristol Bay Native Association. Which is under supervision of the village council so...
DC: How...how are the elders treated in the community? Give 'em a lot of respect.. JN: From my point of view I think they're getting their respect 'cause if we...like I said before every time we go hunting and we catch something we've always dispersed out the meat to the elderly...elders and so fars..so... DC: Before you go hunting do you talk to elders about uh places to find animals or...? JN: um... Sometimes we do, just for their point of view so... Majority its just, every time we say let's go hunting we...then we just make a destination. Pick a destination and then that's where we go. DC: Do you uh get any kind of information from uh airplanes that fly over maybe? JN: um... Once in a while yes. Very often...very few. DC: Very infrequently JN: Yeah. DC: Yeah. JN: Like, for example up...one time we...its...I only see it one maybe two times in my lifetime help...assistance from the airlines... ...they've always get assistance from that all the times. BS: OK JN: Majority...majority of my information for big game is um from the private um flyers here in the village. That's where...sometimes we get majority of our information to let us know where the game's at. DC: Do people in the community own planes here? JN: um... I think there is about two family that own planes so... DC: And...who are they now? JN: um...Doyle Roehl. He's fairly new, and also um John Nielson. He lives up, currently lives up the bay right now. Which is um Gary's father. DC: Gary's father. JN: Yeah. DC: Yeah...They both have planes? JN: um... No, just um John...Gary's dad. DC: Yeah. JN: Yeah. DC: I meant Roehl and Neilsen both have planes. JN: Yes. DC: And...and so that'll...that'll occasionally tell you that they've seen caribou or moose or whatever... JN: Yeah...uh huh
DC: How bout um could you talk a little bit about uh your experience with the development of the lodges uh...? JN: Well, my experience with the lodges, seem like to me is about ten fifteen years ago. Before there was only one lodge right up here which is bout eight miles above Kokhanok. That was the only lodge I knew other than what was over at Iliamna. BS: What was that one called? JN: um..that's...we used call that Foldagger's Lodge He...he still lives there today. And one before that...there...falls...um Kokhanok Falls, that lodge right there. Those were the two lodges I knew when I was growing up. DC: mmm hmm JN: um...the other one...over here...right there. DC: right here? JN: No, where the Kokhanok River's at...right there. BS: Do you wanna mark it? DC: Yeah, you mark it. BS: And put the name there too...down here. DC: I put... JN: Falls Lodge DC: oh JN: Other than the ones over at Iliamna I wouldn't know how many more...how many lodges were over there at that time. But, during my, when I was growing up I only knew of these two. And also the one over at Intricate Bay, which is um Chris Goll's lodge over here...this... DC: And he's the uh concessionaire or uh... JN: Yeah...that...that's the person we were talking about last night about the concessionaire so... Those were the three lodges that I knew when I was growing up. DC: mmm hmm. Now what's happened since then? JN: Nowdays we've got Lodge then we got another lodge... Well, actually this map's not accurate...but I'll just give and estimation...right about, right over here? BS: And that's called Cusacks? JN: Cusak's...yeah.
JN: Then we got...I couldn't recall Marlene and Tilly's lodge, so I don't know what's there business name under, but um I grew up with Marlene over at uh . They also have a business too as a lodge. DC: Is that Marlene that's married to uh Gary? JN: Jim Tilly. Marlene uh...Pope used to be her maiden name. DC: So...so where does most of the lodge activity come from? Up north or..? JN: The majority of the activity's coming from the village of Iliamna. DC: Ah JN: And we're always...I guess, from what I here they're going over the coast over here somewhere to go fishin' or huntin' or one lodge has access up here to a pier...so majority, all the activity for airlines has been right over Kokhonak. DC: Right over Kokhanok toward Gibraltar. JN: mmm hmm. That's...majority of the activities right there. DC: Could you talk a little bit about, since the last fifteen years, what the issues with the lodges are? JN: Well, at one time I can recall Fish and Game was accusing the village of Kokhanok for taking too much fish to the subsistence nets and uh...we were getting the blame for decline of the rainbows and Fish and Game was accusing us of...we're out fishing and utilizing the subsistence nets and they weren't...and we had a big meeting about it as I can recall and Fish and Game was wanting to stop us for doing it 'cause they claim that we were depleting the fish stocks. I..I..kinda didn't believe it because I think that nature had something to do with it. That's a situation...compared to three years ago with the first disaster...salmon disaster I seen in...it put a burden on our village for the past two years. DC: The lodge fly-ins do they target rainbow or do they go after salmon or what? What are they... JN: um...There...there's a lot of lodge activity within this river here right at the Gibraltar River and its gettin' more and more heavy every year. DC: And again...is that rainbow or salmon? JN: Rainbow and salmon, both. DC: How bout uh... JN: And I...I guess do to the reason why because I...I've always heard that Iliamna Lake is a world-class fishing area and we get all kinds of foreigners every time. From my experience, I...I've been meeting a lot of foreigners up at the Gibraltar.
DC: um...Has anyone done a study or any research on the increase in activity in the number of... JN: um...No, not at this time...only with the exception of the interview right now, like what were talking about right now. Compared to five years ago, this year is the most activities for...for flying airplanes. I don't know why. Maybe because of the clients fishing and hunting...so...our areas always, I've always considered our areas a world class area for sportsmen. 'Cause we have a whole bunch, abundance of bears and stuff like that. We have pretty good abundance of bears around here. DC: How bout uh outfitters..what uh? JN: Outfitters, majority of 'em is, there's a lot of outfitters too...got most of the people I see and meet is always on rafts going down the river and they're picked up at the mouth of Gibraltar here. DC: So they 'em in to the... JN: I assume...I assume they fly them into Gibraltar Lake and then float down the river. DC: How bout Mirror Lake? Do they go to Mirror Lake? JN: um... I'm not sure but uh for that past three years every time we're going up there I've always seen a lot of hunting activity up there and they don't very much associate with the Natives. I don't see why they don't associate with the Native there, because they're always trying to run away or fly away or something...hide. I'm not really sure. Maybe, maybe they think we're rangers or something, but I'm not sure so... DC: Do...do you.. JN: From my experience, I haven't encountered and park service people, but wintertime we do see 'em flying around and I...I...Gilbert and I we've seen up there flying around and we've always...I've always think its OK 'cause we're on the snowmachines so... DC: That's right...Have you had any direct contact...as uh...a village council or village council president with the lodges to explain your concerns to the lodges of Iliamna? JN: um...Not in reality, because I participate in commercial fisheries. I leave here end of May then I don't come back 'til first part of August or mid-August so...those three months are the busiest time for the lodges so... DC: oh...And do you...you a drift netter? JN: um...I used to drift, and right now I'm a set netter. DC: Where do you go? JN: um...Naknek, yeah. DC: And do you take some of that uh catch to smoke for subsistence purposes? JN: The only thing I can bring back with me is King Salmon and majority of my...I don't bring any back any Sockeye 'cause we have Sockeye up here already so...
DC: Now um how...with respect to the concessionaire hunter, what...what have most of the uh hunters go after? They go after bear or caribou or what? Do you know? JN: I think its a variety in regards to the season. DC: uh huh JN: Like springtime you got what is it...moose. Well, springtime you got fishin' and falltime you got huntin' then falltime then you got every four years right now there's bear hunting. Then from August to end of March or first part of April is caribou season. Its...basically, I seen a whole lot of activity within the season. DC: So...whatever season bag limits restriction are... Now, several people have mentioned their concern that the bear population is much higher than it has been for quite a while. JN: Oh yes, I've seen a large increase in bear population maybe because of the food supply like the big stocks in Sockeye, but I...I...I really can't understand for the bad, two past years of bad fishing...there's a big increase of bear activity. And this year there's a lot of bear activity this year...again it's gettin' to a point...I don't know its...I can recall going up to Gibraltar, we seen thirteen bears within an hour. DC: If you wanted to communicate your concern about the bear population, where you could extend it's season or expand it's bag limits, how would you go about contacting... JN: We...we would probably work with a group with the village council to present our proposal, our concerns to the Board of Fish and Game, Subsistence Division. DC: Is that the state or feds? JN: Right now its the federal government, since the take over, federal so...I...we've always been working with the federal...um...subsistence advisory board too. DC: uh huh... JN: For...for creating proposals right now so... DC: That's the Aniakchak one? JN: um...Katmai. DC: Katmai JN: Yeah.
DC: um...And how many proposals have you put forward, would you say, to the advisory council JN: I know there's uh...Iliamna Lake regional...regional advisory council too. They put there input into the federal subsistence board to so... We...we utilize both of em so..but...for the bears and stuff we mostly utilize the lake, the Lake Iliamna Fish and Game Advisory Board for proposals and concerns. And also, we work with the BBNA resource department too for that. 'cause they're always assisting us in helping proposal...helping us draft proposals. Like for example, I'll bring up the latest one which is right now, before we weren't allowed to shoot beavers for subsistence, but right now we're allowed to shoot two beavers a day for that. DC: And that...that was a proposal that went to the Federal Subsistence Board and was approved? JN: uh huh that was working through the channels with the local advisory board and subsistence board so...and also the great big help from BBNA resource department. DC: That was the state though, the local advisory council, right? JN: Yeah. And then we've worked with the federal subsistence...amoretorium for the...for the um for the Katmai National Preserve. That's why were having this interview here right now today. DC: Yeah...um How...how do you see the community sustaining itself through time? JN: Probably through subsistence activities. 'Cause I can recall one time...there was only few jobs, and we're always still dependent on subsistence today. And I...I don't...I don't know...it's subsistence always played a big part in our lifestyle.
DC: If...if you were to give advice to uh the young people that are in high school now that uh you know wanted to...to stay in the community, what kind of skills would you tell 'em to get and what advice give to them? JN: From my point of view, I'd probably say preserve...you're...um...watch your catch. What you catch in numbers, to sustain the stock. DC: uh huh. How 'bout job skills? JN: Job skills, I'd...its usually towards, oriented towards training or schooling. DC: What kind of skills? JN: um...Got office management, and right now then today's students are kinda dispersed out in educational...and right now you can see students going for high...um...college or, I don't know, some of 'em just dropped out too...I don't...occasional like building trades, electrician, stuff like that. DC: Does the council talk about uh what kind of jobs it sees coming up and how to train the young people to take those jobs? Is that an issue you guy talk about? JN: um...Basically, we should be involved, but we're not involved. I guess basically its always, we've always stressed own individuals goals in regards to obtaining what they want so...we...we've provided information and we're...we're there to provide assistance, to provide, to get information... and they don't utilize this. Sometimes we do send out information and stuff like that so...
BS: We're back on...You were talking about fishing? JN: Yeah...yeah I wanted to add another location for fishing which down at the Belinda Creek. We also do our fishin' and huntin' down there too so... BS: Now are these the sort of things you want us to put into the computers? JN: um...I'll leave that discretion up to you guys though. I am...I'm here for the interview to provide information and I'm glad I'm doing it. BS: yeah DC: How 'bout um...I assume you have relatives and friends and so forth in Igiugig. You guys ever meet up here and... JN: Oh yeah we...sometimes we meet up here, right at, right into preserve. Right over here. DC: oh...just in... JN: Any...any location within here. DC: North...northwest part of Kukaklek Lake. JN: Yeah. mmm hmm. Right even over here so...pretty much over here. DC: What uh...could you talk a little bit about uh the uh winter festivals that occur in the communities and... JN: um...We have an annual um winter event which is called the Kokhanok Winter Carnival and I...I've...ever since the inception of the carnival for the wintertime, its always been a popular event for the village of Kokhanok, 'cause all kinds of people come in, especially you friends from different villages and newcomers. I've always seen Kokhonak as a popular place for sponsoring events like this during...every year. And, to date, its gettin' more and more popular, I don't know why. Maybe because of the hospitality by the people... DC: What kind of events... JN: Or the...or the um events that's...that the carnival committee offers. DC: What kind of events do they... JN: And um the biggest events is first the dog racing and then probably then bingo then ball games. Basketball games and ball games are becoming more and more popular too so...Competition between the villages. Its always...I...I've been on the team before but for the past five years I haven't participated so... DC: What position did you play? JN: um...Usually guard...or center. Almost lost my eye too one time playing basketball locally in the village then after that then I don't participate anymore. DC: An elbow or something? JN: um...I ran into my own...my own partner . DC: uh oh JN: We were going after the ball at same time. We ran into each other.
JN: But...anyways there a lot of villages coming to our festival every year. DC: Who comes? JN: Many people DC: uh...No, what villages come? JN: um...Iliamna, Newhalen, Nondalton, Igiugig, Levelock, we're startin' to see people come from Dillingham, New Stuyahok, Koliganek, Ekwok, and some from Anchorage. DC: Wow, that's a lot of villages. JN: That's quite a few. DC: How...how do you put all those people up..uh... JN: ah...People take 'em in as their um guests. Like one time here, for here, our house, for example, it was...you couldn't walk from here to there because of the people sleeping on the floor. And there's...people are always accustomed to that...I don't know why. Maybe because of the hospitality. DC: Do you... JN: I've always seen our winterfest pretty popular within the area and so...so does the villages of Newhalen and Nondalton have festivities too so...plus the village of Levelock. DC: Do you uh get to uh Anchorage much? JN: um...I go in there about, average about four times a year. DC: And would that be average for the people here in the village? JN: um...some people go in more than four...I don't know for what. I don't keep track of 'em. That's their business not mine. DC: How 'bout health services? JN: Health services, we get our health care from um Anchorage 'cause we...we're part of the Anchorage but, basically we get our funding from the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation, which provides the health aides and stuff here for the village. And also we get the um programs like drug elimination, alcohol, and all...all the other programs that's offered by the corporation. We're...we're entitled to that. But basically, we get our health service from the Anchorage...um...Native Medical Center. DC: And how does that work? Does the medical center pay for the flight there and back if its a serious condition or..? JN: um...I guess on a serious condition its a round-trip. Sometimes, one-way then your obligated to pay your own fare back. And usually situation like that arises out and uh the family members are obligated to help out to pay for the airfare coming back.
DC: What do you see as the...kind of major health problems in the community? JN: Major health problems right now, probably drug and alcohol abuse and one of the biggest issues we have always deal with every year is patient travel. That is one of the biggest issues today. Got the cost of transportation, and its still and issue today. It's always been our issue, and its still our issue today...patient travel. DC: That's one that you...you work with uh health service... JN: Yeah...sometimes I think one year, I think one year village council assisted people like that into airfares for bringing 'em back and...and it was gettin' too much, beginning to get out of control and my board had directed me to quit doing that so... DC: That must have been a tough decision. JN: It was as tough decision to do that 'cause it...this program helped help out the locals pretty good, and it was gettin' pretty popular. But, it was gettin' to be a jump in cost too...so...but, at least it helped them out. It never affected us in regards to dollars cause it was, basically it was a program given to the village for that, and we had, I think two issues to deal with and one of the...them main issue was patient travel. DC: If I could get back to subsistence for a moment um the new technology, you know, which is part of the reason we're here, seems to be adopted whole-heartedly. JN: uh huh DC: Do you think that people will ever go back? JN: I...I don't foresee people going back into the old method because there is always new technology out there and your seeing, I'm seeing new technology out there too...so. Buy a newspapers, bush mailers we get through the mail. There is always new things comin' out. Then as compared to today, there...I'm seeing, beginning to see a lot of snowmachines like compared to twenty years ago, there was one. Today there is probably twenty snowmachines. DC: That the same way with four-wheelers? JN: That'd be the same situation with the four-wheelers...it's...the way I foresee it, its a mode and method of new transportation equipment. But today, what I...what I've seen is an improvement in transportation in regards to four-wheeler.
DC: I only have a few... BS: Say more about that. JN: um...Before we didn't have four-wheelers then three-wheelers then...then one of the first four-wheelers came out and it...it...it jumped up considerably here in the village because of the transport...easier to hunt. DC: uh huh JN: Easier and maneuverable and a load that it can carry. BS: So... JN: Basically the four-wheeler here in our village is for subsistence, wood-gettin, pleasure...it the everything machine. I've always classed it at the everything machine. And um...pleasure riding, berry pickin', huntin', fishin', wood gettin'. I've always classed using the Honda into those five categories. BS: Let me, let me just ask one question on that. You know, people have talked about revolutionizing travel in rural Alaska. JN: uh huh BS: How would you compare the four-wheeler with the snow-machine in terms of revolutionizing travel? JN: I'd probably compare them in regards to carrying the load. 'Cause if a newer and bigger and Honda, than you are obligated to carry a bigger load of whatever you want to haul. Like, for example, if we go out there and catch a moose, than we're obligate to bring the whole moose home after we butcher it out there 'cause...we...we don't bring the whole moose home after we catch it. We do...we skin it out there, cut it up and pack it up on the Honda then bring it home. Then once were home then we disperse it out. BS: How is that different from before? JN: um...Before, when I was growing up we used to walk and pack. And then we used to bring one piece to home all the time. 'Cause we usually go into big groups. First of all, the hunting group used to be small, 'cause I used to...I used be involved with it to. I used to be the runner, I guess, the water getter or cook or fire maker, I can recall that so... Compared to today, its...its different to when I was growing up. Before we used to walk out there and pack up our pack, pack it back it back home versus today...you go out there and bring it back one shot as compared to twenty years ago, one piece at a time.
BS: So what did you have to do though when you brought it back once piece at a time, did you have to cache the rest of the meat? JN: um, No we...we...we came back with a bigger so we could haul more and bring it back home. DC: So the hunting party would be small but... JN: Yeah DC: ...but the party that packed it in would be large. JN: Yeah. And as compared to today there is a big difference on that 'cause today, right now, for example you and I could go out there if we had two Honda then we wouldn't...wouldn't be able to have this abundance of people packing the meat back, because of technology. DC: um, I just have a couple more questions that uh...Are there uh any uh significant events in your life that you would like to record or talk about that you select? JN: I sure wish these younger generations would um maybe have a history of how the village began, how the people migrated to the village and stuff like that. Basically, the history of the village and subsistence and hunting and fishing lifestyles for each village. 'Cause every village is different, but the same...the methods are still the same. Like if we go to here, go to Igiugig, its still the same, no different. DC: So...so you wish kids would have a better sense of their own history? JN: I...yes. More...more sense of their history rather than losing it. DC: What would you pick out as the most significant decisions you've made in your life? JN: Probably what I accomplished to where I am today. 'Cause that...when I grew up I thought I was going to be a pilot, but I never did. But then I wanted to enlist to the Army too but I never did, but then, what the heck, the village council always needs somebody good with numbers so, why not go to a vocation for accounting or schooling for accounting and stuff like that, clerk typist, something to type up letters, you know. And I've...I think I've accomplished what I did like I said, I'm not done with the village of Kokhanok 'cause I haven't completed my task and goals for the village. I've got two more tasks and goals for the village which is airport lighting and safe boat harbor and I've completed my goals. BS: What's the second one? JN: um...Safe boat and harbor. We're still working with airport landing and its been our issue for the past six years.
BS: Go ahead. JN: In reality for subsistence, I don't...I don't think, I don't want to lose subsistence because its, like I've indicated before this village is a subsistence oriented village...'cause we depend on subsistence. But right now compared to today, you know it's...there's a lot of varieties. I've seen a lot of changes. Store got...offer more food items, more mail. Before, we used to get mail once a week or once every two weeks before and now we're getting mail three times a week. DC: How bout TV? What impacts did... JN: TV....impacted the village very much. When I was growing up, we didn't have TV, we didn't have power, we didn't water and sewer. When I was going to school the radio was our clock. And we...we never used to have clocks, maybe my mom used to get one or two clocks but that didn't last, you know. But the radio, the radio was our main way of keeping up with the world and the time. DC: How the world is in... JN: Well, you got satellite, VHS... DC: Videos... JN: Videos. But I've for...you know of all these changes, I...subsistence and huntin' and fishin' never change. DC: Importance in the community... JN: uh huh. I don't think it'll never change. It'll...from my point of view it's going on compared to when I was growing up compared to today, no different. Only thing different about it is modes of transportation, because of the improvement to the transportation.
DC: Well uh..that's... BS: OK... JN: OK BS: um...maybe just on other quick question and that is uh who do you think we should talk to about the history of the community if that's an important thing to be documented? JN: Probably the village residents BS: yeah... JN: ...and plus the uh other entities like for example, your organization. BS: yeah...but who in the community could tell us about the significant history? JN: Probably the village residents, like for example me and plus the other people you interviewed today 'cause people are...people have different ideas. My interview is probably different compared to Gabby's. BS: Yeah JN: See Gabby's...see Gabby's more, he's got more information compared to me because of age, so... From my...my lifetime growing up is, you know, it was pretty hard when I was growing up. We didn't have Hondas, we didn't have um airplanes, stuff like that. Only thing...I grew up as...was dog team, and can recall growing up with a dog team. DC: And how old are you now? JN: I'm going on forty years old DC: forty BS: OK...well, thank you very much. JN: Thanks, you're welcome