Ted Melgenak was interviewed on March 22, 1998 by Pat Partnow in her hotel room in King Salmon, Alaska. As Ted talked, he studied a map of the area, locating sites where he trapped, hunted, fished, and gathered plant resources through the years. Because of Teddy's years spent with elders, he was also able to remember stories they told about Old Savonoski before the 1912 volcanic eruption of Mt. Katmai, and traditional songs and stories. In this interview, Teddy also talks about his subsistence activities in the area, learning from his parents Pelagia and Nick Melgenak, fishing and preparing fish, collecting plants and using them for traditional medicine, and how things have changed since the establishment of Katmai National Park.
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Fall subsistence activities at Brooks Camp
Fishing with a setnet, and cutting and hanging the fish to dry
Preparing and splitting fish, and difference between fish for people and fish for feeding their dogs
Hanging fish and living at New Savonoski
Living at Brooks Camp and New Savonoski
Other people at Brooks Camp, and remembering old stories that he heard from his parents and grandparents
Stories about the 1912 volcanic eruption of Mt. Katmai and traveling to Old Savonski
Stories about living at Old Savonoski
Using parts of the bear, and people and places in the area
Mike Shapsnikoff and Paul Chukan, boating around the area, and hunting moose, caribou and bear
Sharing fish and bear
Bear behavior, and use of bear meat and fat
Packing bear meat, and ice fishing
Ice fishing, traveling by dogteam, and beaver trapping
Caching and storing food, and waterfowl hunting
Effect of the creation of Katmai National Park
Changes resulting from establishment of the park and introduction of concessionaires
Fishing from the beach
Fishing at Brooks River, and changes in wildlife populations
Hunting in and around the national park, and beluga whale hunting
Gathering shellfish, trapping, and hunting ptarmigan and rabbits
The story and traditional beliefs about the Eating Rock
Story about escaping from the 1912 volcanic eruption of Mt. Katmai
Drying fish, and the importance of watching the weather, especially when traveling
Cooking fish and caring for a dogteam
Food preparation, and cutting and hanging fish
Reindeer and caribou
Trapping and selling furs
Bears in Katmai National Park
One bear that is nicknamed "Diver"
Working at Katmai National Park
Old stories about dancing and playing games
More about traditional games that were played
Traditional dancing and holiday celebrations
Learning to read and attending church services
How One-Arm Nick (Melgenak) lost his arm
Putting up fish in the summer
Cutting, splitting, hanging and smoking fish
Commercial and subsistence fishing, and collecting plants
Gathering and using plants
More about gathering and using plants
Use of plants for traditional medicine
Use of plants in a steam bath
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PP: March 22 and I'm in King Salmon at the Quinnat Landing Hotel, and I'm talking to Teddy Melgenak, and he's gonna talk about his experiences subsistence using in the Katmai area. Why don't we start with, sort of your childhood and earliest memories of what you used to do in this area? And if you want to mark places on the map I'll mark them and then list them so we can reference them. TM: Talking about what we . . . PP: Yeah, just go ahead and talk about TM: That place there, Brooks Camp, right here, that's where we used to have our camps around up there in the falltime . I think it's August or September, somewhere around there, we used to go up there every fall with Pelagia Melgenak and Nick Melgenak. PP: Did you live with them? TM: Yeah, I lived with them, then we used to go up there with a boat -- gasboat, they called them. And we'd go up there, we had their gasboat, they called them gasboat, double-enders, they had motors inside, and they got those double-enders, they used to be sailboats, we loaded the dogs up, up to 7, 14 dogs, maybe. Load 'em up, right in there, we'd drive 'em right through the rapids, and stay overnight in Trefon's Cabin up there. PP: Now where's Trefon's cabin? TM: Trefon's cabin located right here. PP: Okay, we've got a 3 on that. TM: Yeah, we used to pitch up a tent in there before Trefon had the cabin in there. Stay there 'till they get good weather, then the good weather, early in the morning we'd take off and cross the lake with all them, they towed a boat behind, a sailboat, long line. PP: So there were two double-enders together? TM: One double-ender, one with a motor on it, one with no motor on it. And there'd be a long line, a real long line. I'd get in the back and drive it. PP: Did you need the two boats because of the dogs? TM: Dogs are in there chained up. We keep 'em chained up 'cause if we don't chain 'em up they'll jump out. PP: And how long did you stay up there when you went up? TM: Oh, about -- he'd stay up there a whole month, I think, stay up there a long time, anyway.
TM: We used to put a net out in the evening time, early in the morning, the net was loaded with fish. The net -- we just ran, and pick it, and they're so hard to pick, the long teeth on those fish, you know, they're really hard to pick. And we used to stack one ___ and then we split them, we always get together and split all the fish in there and hang them up. Take 'em by six at a time, take 'em by the lake and wash 'em and just hang 'em right up on the rack. And then maybe about 6-7-800 fish. That's not in one day. It's just all together. Maybe even more than that. And that's two big racks, and those racks'd be full, you know. Every morning when it's nice weather like that we used to decide we're gonna just turn 'em over so they'll dry. PP: So when they hang is the skin-side in first? TM: It's straight, it's about PP: So about 4' high. TM: Four feet, four-five feet high, we'd just reach over and hang the fish right up on there, they're so far apart so they don't touch each other. They get more air, so they don't coat together. And take care of 'em, you know, flip 'em over, turn 'em over when it's a sunny day, in the evening time flip 'em back over, skin side up. They'll dry better. PP: So the skin side would be up at night or during the day? TM: During the day. Had a lot of fish to turn over, we used to go in and just keep turning 'em over and they'd dry better. PP: How old were you when you did this? TM: I must have been somewhere around 12, 13. PP: Uh huh. And who did the cutting of the fish? TM: My dad was in there too, also, McCarlo. He would split fish and Old Lady Gramma , she'd come down and split the fish. She was older, you know. When she'd split them, she'd take all the bones out. She's the expert at it, real fast, you know. And those they stacked separate, in one place, away from that that we're splitting. And then the way McCarlo and them and them other guys, Foma and them guys, ___ also.
TM: Then they stacked separate, 'cause they used to split them open and they just cut the bone right out. And there's a lot of bones out. And we used -- they got faster that way, you know, get that pile done and you'd hang it up. And that Old Lady Gramma she used to split them real neat, and we'd hang them separate, away from the pile. They're done a real good job on them, no bones or nothing. PP: And were hers used for something special? TM: Yeah, we used them -- we hang them or eat them during the wintertime. They last all winter long. That warm and cold air dries 'em out really good. PP: Was there a difference between the fish you did for dogs and the fish you did for people? TM: Yeah, the ones they cut up with bones on 'em, they'd just take that one bone right out, and they'd keep a lot of bones on it, and them ones we used for dogs, eat them up. Then they called 'em "upside-down fish" too. We used to cut the heads off and hang the whole head, hang two, tie two fish together and hang 'em up. PP: By the tail? TM: Yeah, but the tail. And they call 'em "upside-down fish." And we used them for -- dogs eat them up also. And we'd too during the wintertime. PP: Is there an Alutiiq word for the "upside-down fish"? TM: They call them kanartaq. PP: Oh, kanartaq. TM: That's what they call them. That's what Gramma used to call them. PP: Did you use any brine? Any salt or anything? TM: No brine, no salt, just catch 'em in the net, and take 'em out of the net, and we'd stack 'em on the place right on the beach, so we got a little place in there where we could throw 'em right in there so they don't dry up. And cut their guts out and heads off, and hang 'em up. They'll be there, maybe about three-four week they'll be hanging in there until we're ready to go home. They're a long time there, they dry really good. And a lot more lighter, also. PP: And no smoke? TM: You never smoke 'em. PP: Did you every bring some of the fish back to Savonoski to smoke? TM: We bring 'em back from up there, we live at Savonoski down there.
PP: New Savonoski? TM: New Savonoski. When we get back we hang 'em, take 'em out of the boat and we just rehang 'em back up again. Yeah, that's after -- we get done when we get -- fish rack'd be full up there, you know, and leave 'em hanging there -- stay up there quite a while till they're all done dry, you know. Then we planned that ahead of time. They planned ahead of time when we're ready to go home. Oh, maybe one week before we go home, they'd plan on that, good weather. North wind blows pretty hard up there at Brooks Lake sometimes, it'll get really rough. So we lived right in the tent. PP: Oh, you lived in a tent the whole month? TM: Mm hm. That tent. PP: Wow. Who was there together at that camp? TM: Pelagia Melgenak, and Nick Melgenak, I was sleeping there too. Right now they -- we used to get bears in there too. PP: Oh, did you? TM: Mm hm. And we'd leave them hanging up there, fish rack maybe from here to the tree out here. PP: My gosh, so that's TM: A little ways from that fish rack. PP: Oh, so if your tent is here, the fish rack would be over there, like about 25 yards away? TM: From here, yeah. And bears never bother it. PP: They didn't? TM: They never bother it. PP: Because of your dogs? TM: The dogs was in there, but them the bears there, they were kind of shy, scared. When they'd see you they'd smell you a long way, they'll take off. Bear coming -- but sometime they'll come by you, then they'll take off again. Right now, today, they come right to you. They never used to do that. They were scared. All the fish we got out there, they never bothered it. PP: Do you think -- I mean, is it because they had enough fish of their own from the rivers or something? Or scared of people? TM: I don't know. Scared of people, yeah. There weren't very many people around there. Tents. And they were like that. They're scared of you. When they see you a long way, then they'd take off. PP: Wow. Big difference. TM: Yeah. There, all that fish hanging, they never bothered it. Now you hang one fish up there, the next day it would be gone. PP: Yeah. I'm surprised.
PP: How did you feel about being up there at the camp? TM: I kind of enjoyed it. I was a young man at the time, and I enjoyed, really enjoyed it. And then I used to get kind of tired later on, tired of the place, being there so long, a whole month. And ready to go home, you know, they'll say, "It'd be time to go home," and that morning, we'd be getting -- maybe 5:00 in the morning, maybe, getting ready. Take all the fish out of the racks, and throw 'em all in the boat, used to __ real neat, you know, they'd overlap each other. Right in that sailboat. PP: The second boat? TM: Yeah, that one we towed up. And we'd load it, it'd be kind of full! And the freeboard's only about, a little over a foot. PP: Oh my gosh! TM: And we'd drive right through the rapids coming down. Never hit a rock. And then we'd get back down to Savonoski, that's what we unload. We hang 'em back as soon as possible, 'cause they'll spoil if you leave 'em in there too long. Get 'em hanged up and get air on 'em. PP: So you had huge fish racks in Savonoski too? TM: Yeah, we already had fish racks there. The ones they used during the summertime. So we just put these redfish right on -- hang it right in there. PP: And would you already have some fish from earlier runs? TM: Yeah, those are already put away, the ones they smoked during the summertime. So they had them all in a cache -- they called it a cache out there, you know, piled up real neat in there. They never rot. PP: Like a wood cache? TM: Yeah, they're on PP: On posts? TM: On drums. Drums on the four corners. PP: Okay, big oil drums? So it's off the ground. TM: And then the building on top there, then they put the fish right in there, and they stay clean right in there. No mice get in there, they can't get up there. PP: Oh. That makes sense. TM: It stays up in the air all the time. PP: Now when you were -- this was, let's see, most of September you might spend up there? TM: Yeah, September, yeah. PP: So what would you do about school? TM: I don't know. I never used to go to school in Savonoski. They had a school at South Naknek but we never -- no place to stay down there for school. So I stayed home in Savonoski. PP: Do you know -- what years would this be? 19-- what?
TM: I forgot PP: 40s? 30s? TM: 40s. I remember one calendar, I used to go up the lake with my dogs. I used to see a calendar on the wall there. 1947. That's Paul Chukan's cabin, that calendar was hanging. I remember that calendar. 1947. The rest of the time from there, we go back and forth. PP: Yeah. If you had your camp here at Brooks Camp, were there other people like from Savonoski and South Naknek who had other camps in the area? Or was it mostly just you guys who went? TM: Carvel Zimin and them, Nick Zimin and them, they used to come up there, Carvel Zimin's dad , they used to come up there with a boat during the falltime. He lived right in the boat. Front right in the creek and they had a cabin on the boat. PP: But it wouldn't be exactly where you were? A little bit distant or would it be pretty much the same place? TM: Same area. Right in the creek, right in there. One-arm Nick, they used to call him "One-Arm Nick," that's Nick Melgenak. He had only one arm, his left arm. And, yeah we used to put up a tent and then Gramma make -- or she stayed right in the tent, there's a stove in there. A lot of wood on the beach. We didn't have to worry about wood. So we'd get a handful, right on the beach, a lot of dry wood right on the beach. That beach is all pumice stones up there. PP: Yeah? TM: Today the gravel's showing up. In those days there's no gravel at all. You walk in there and you're walking right on the pumice stones. PP: Huh. When you were up there, did your gramma and grampa tell stories? TM: they used to tell all kinds of stories. Sometimes I listened to them, sometimes I don't. When I'm sitting down, then I listen what they -- they all get together and talk about this Katmai. PP: Oh did they? TM: I understand 'em. I understand the Native language. I understand real clear. They'd talk about Katmai, they used to talk about up Old Savonoski. They talked about that and then I understand what they're talking about. They said that they ___ -- when they were up there, they said that -- that's what they're saying, anyway, they said that the smoke, you know, and big spark coming up on the mountains, and then some older people saying that the end of the world. That's what they think.
TM: And big sparks, you could see 'em, sparks in the air, and a lot of ash on the ground. Ground get so hot that they can't even lay down on the ground. Every time you go to sleep, you get warm. Then they said when they first, that sometime the earthquakes around that too. They said the worst thing to do was get in the boat during an earthquake. In the boat is the worst. PP: Is the worst thing? Why? TM: That's what they say. I don't know. That's what Old Lady Gramma used to say. Earthquake, get in the water, in a boat -- seems like it would be more comfortable, but they said it's worse in the water. It must be tippy or something. PP: Yeah. What's they call "Old Savonoski"? Did they call it "Savonoski"? TM: Hm. I don't remember what they call. I don't recall what they used to call it there. PP: Did they ever take you up to look at the old village? TM: Yeah, we -- those days, we never -- Old Lady Gramma was there, we never go up there. But later, we took a ride up there a couple of times, went up there a couple of times, just take a ride, you know, then walked around all over around there. And they -- Nick Melgenak, he know where the old church was, and there was some crosses in there -- you could see it right in there. You know, all you could see was foundations, but couldn't see nothing. You got mud in there about 3, 4 feet high. You could see where dories, and where they come out. PP: Wow. Did they leave as soon as the eruption started? TM: Mm hm. I don't know what time they left but they come down to Kittiwik and from there they come down here. I don't know where they stopped, if they stopped at Kittiwik and stayed there for a while, just to get away from that Old Savonoski. PP: Yeah. Did they ever say, before the eruption, did they used to come down the river pretty far, even before? TM: Yeah, they go back and forth with a kayak during the summertime. Some come down and make a round-trip, that's a long ways on kayak. PP: Kayak would take a long time, wouldn't it? TM: Yeah, they say they were pretty fast.
TM: Those days, used to be most of the time, used to be calm. PP: Oh yeah? TM: Yeah. It didn't blow like today, real rough, you know. And sometime they walked over to -- from Old Savonoski, they used to talk about that. PP: Walk over to Douglas? TM: Walk over to Douglas, yeah. That's where Nick Melgenak was -- Douglas, that's his home town. He used to come back and forth. They said they walked over. He said it's a good and all the way back. PP: Did he say how long that walk took? TM: Didn't say how long it take them. They said they used to walk over there and walk the way back again. That's quite a ways, Douglas! Cape Douglas. PP: Here's Cape Douglas right here, so they'd go -- here's the village, so they'd go up -- of course the river's changed, hasn't it? TM: Yeah. PP: There must have been a pass. TM: They'd walk all the way over, someplace through here. This is just overland from Old Savonoski. And then the rest of they way, then over here they'd get kayaks. PP: Maybe up at Cape Chiniak? And kayak up all the way up. Wow! TM: And they said, I don't know if they go all the way up to Cape Douglas, and that's right there. They used to see ships going by every spring. The schooners they see 'em going by. PP: So they'd go up often? Not just once in a while, but as a regular thing? TM: Yeah, they get a regular trail in there someplace, all the way from Old Savonoski. They said it was quite a way, but they said they used to walk it anyway. They said it was real good walking, just shoes on, no trees. Now it's like a -- whole area around here is something like a jungle. PP: Yeah. And your gramma was from TM: Old Savonoski. But her husband, her second husband, he was from Cape Douglas. PP: Uh huh. Now I remember hearing there was another village here also, before TM: And that's Grosvenor, my dad was born in there somewhere, but he used to show me where it was. PP: I'll mark that with B. That's where you dad was born? TM: Yeah, Mike McCarlo . That's where he born. Grosvenor.
PP: Now, was he Pelagia's son? She was your mother's TM: My mother's husband, yeah. PP: Um, let's see. So that's what you would do in the fall. What would you do -- would you use the park any other time of the year? TM: We'd come here. That's Brooks Lake. Stay there one month, maybe a little over a month every fall. We used to come through here and come to here also and we'd go hunting bear around the area around there. PP: Up at, like near Margot Creek ? TM: Margot Creek, yeah. We'd go bear hunting in there sometimes. PP: What'd you do with the bear meat? TM: We'd eat the bears. PP: Did you -- were you around when people were making the kamleikas out of the bear guts? TM: I used to see them, but I don't know how they make 'em. Cause I've seen them but they've been already dried up and already made. But she didn't make any in front of me, but I've seen them though. PP: What parts of the bear did you use? TM: They used to take the whole bear. PP: Was there any market for the fur? TM: No, no. We just leave the skin. Sometimes we'd just hang it up, and I don't know what they do with them, just take them home. PP: You know, I heard in other parts of the peninsula where they'd do a certain thing with the bear skull. Did you ever do anything special with it? TM: No, they'd just leave the heads PP: Oh, they did leave the heads? TM: Yeah. PP: Did they leave it pointed in any particular way? TM: No, they never saved them far as I know. They might have a little earlier, but I don't know, I never see 'em save it. PP: Who -- you went hunting with who? Your dad? TM: My dad, Kirby , he was my cousin, and Mike Shapsnikoff, he used to be with us too. Do you know Mike Shapsnikoff? PP: Uh uh. TM: He used to live in a place called Johnny's Lake in here. PP: Johnny's Lake? Up near North Arm here? Is that this little place here? TM: Yeah, we called Johnny's Lake right in here, we'd come into PP: Oh, you'd call this whole area Johnny's Lake? Okay. TM: No, the next one here. PP: Oh, I see, the big TM: Yeah, this is Roy's Lake in here. That's where our cabin was, right over here. PP: Okay, I'm gonna mark that a . And that's Mike Shapsnikoff's cabin? TM: Yeah, that's where he used to stay. That's where he used to live. Him and his partner Johnny Monsen.
PP: Oh, okay. TM: Mike , he used to come up there over to Brooks Lake too, with us. PP: With a family? TM: He usually come up with Trefon Angasan. He had, it was just him and his partner, he had no family. Trefon only one of the family used to come up here too. Paul Chukan, he used to come up there too, from Naknek. PP: Now, so he was originally from Naknek, he wasn't from this part? TM: Who? PP: Paul Chukan? TM: Yeah, he's from Naknek. I don't know where he -- I don't know where he used to live at, I don't know. All I know is his wife was my auntie. And I don't know where they born, I don't know. PP: Um, let's see. So you'd do bear at the same time you were there. TM: Mm hm, we'd get bear over here sometimes. They looked around all over around here PP: All over Iliuk Arm TM: And they'd come up here PP: Up to TM: Old Savonoski PP: The mouth of the river? TM: Yeah, it's really shallow water and they had to stop with the big boat, if you were gonna come up, with a smaller boat, a skiff. Old Savonoski's right in here someplace. PP: Is it right at the mouth of the river? TM: Right on the mouth of it, yeah. PP: Okay, I'll mark that a . TM: It's right around there. Cause we go far in there, where a skiff can't get in there, it's so shallow. That's the reason we'd leave the big boat right over here, anchor it up, tie it up PP: Just at this little point? TM: That little slough right in there, leave a big boat, deep water in there. PP: I'll mark that . TM: That little ___ in there. PP: Oh, I see. Would you hunt anything else besides bear? TM: Bear, fish, sometimes moose. PP: Oh, did moose come up there? TM: Yeah, there were moose all over around there. But they never -- most of the time they get bear. Lot of bear around there. Wait for the bears when they hunt them, they'll just take off. PP: Were there any caribou up in this TM: The caribou, they come up there, but I never see any caribou those days, but they do come up there PP: Nowadays? TM: Yeah, nowadays. Now they do, but in those days I never see no caribou around there.
PP: When you got the meat, and the fish too, did you share 'em to other people in the community? TM: Yeah, people wanted fish, we give 'em fish. Yeah, they give 'em fish. We got a lotta fish. PP: How old were you when you first started hunting? TM: You mean around the area in there? PP: Mm hm. TM: I must have been -- I used to go up there, but I must have been about 13, 14, somewhere around there. If I remember what I'm doing, it must be 13 or 14. PP: Did they do anything special when a boy got his first, like first bear, or first moose, or anything like that? TM: I remember I got my first bear in there. I had a .25-20. That first bear I got in there, there was right at Kittiwik, and I got it right in there. PP: At Kittiwik? TM: Mm hm. At Kittiwik there. PP: What happened? TM: They just say that I got my first bear. PP: Did you get to eat any of it? TM: Yeah, we ate it. PP: I've heard some people say they didn't get to eat it, they had to give it away to other people to eat. TM: Some people, they gave it away. PP: Do you remember the hunt? What happened? How'd you get the bear? TM: We was going like during the daytime, they'll run away from you. But late in the evening time, you could just maybe go hunting right along the lake in the skiff and just wait for them. I used to get scared. And it was real dark, and sometimes you'd see three, four of 'em coming right on the beach, no flashlight. PP: Are you on the skiff or are you on the beach too? TM: Right in the skiff. You hear them coming. You hear them breathing, you know. And they never shoot the small one, they shoot the big ones. Get them big, you know. But they're hard to tell which one is the mother. But somehow they know which one to shoot. PP: So they try to shoot the male? TM: The big one, the biggest one. But they watch out; if they shoot the small ones, they'd be in trouble. PP: Because then the mother'd come after you? TM: They'd come after you, mm hm.
PP: Did you hear that bears are left handed? TM: Yeah, left handed. PP: Are they all left handed? TM: They're left handed. They always say that if you ever -- they used to say, but I never did get in trouble with them. They'd say always, when you're near 'em, stay away from the left, left foot, they're so quick, as a cat. Real quick. But they would be, if you're facing the bear, would be left side would be this side, your right. Stay away from the left, move to the right. Because they're really quick on their left. Like a cat. You never know if he grabbed you like that, he's so quick. PP: Did they -- they must have told you bear stories, about bear hunts and things? Do you remember any of them? END OF SIDE
TM: Whenever they chase you, never, they used to tell us not to run away from them. Just stay facing them. PP: You're supposed to stay standing up? TM: Yes, just stay there, just freeze right there. Don't run back. They still tell you that today, Park Service does, anyway, telling everybody. These old people used to tell us the same thing. Nick Melgenak, Pelagia knows that too. If they chase you, not to run. PP: Yeah, cause it can go faster. TM: They'll stop right in front of you, maybe 10 feet. PP: Yeah? TM: Maybe closer, even. But if you run, they'll tend to get you. PP: Did you ever have to do that? Stand up and face them? TM: I never, that never did happen to me. But I always think about that. I run into a lot of bears. I never had problems with them, but they chase you. And some people get chased up there. Not to run from them, anyway. That's exactly what they want you to do when they chase you. They'll be coming toward you; they say them things could run 35 miles per hour. Course that's pretty fast. PP: Let's see. When you had the bear meat, of course you'd have to take most of that back. TM: Yeah, we, look all like you're time to go home, we get that bear in there, we'll hang it up, dry 'em up outside, not cooked together. Like a fish, you know, far -- hang it up and dry it, it'll never spoil. PP: Then would you do the bear fat that way too? TM: Yeah. She used to -- that bear fat was about maybe some 3, 4 inches thick. PP: Where, on the back? TM: Yeah. And Gramma used to cut them up in small pieces and boil them. Boil them in a big vat, big cooking pot, anyway. PP: Right there on the beach? TM: Right on the beach. We'd make a bonfire. And when you boil the fat, all the fat comes out, and you take a spoon and you take all the fat out, and put 'em in a jar. And that lasts all winter long. And they eat that when they eat fish, eat that with fish also.
PP: Did people prefer the bear grease over seal grease? TM: Most of the time they had seal meat too -- I mean seal oil. Most of the time they -- sometimes when they eat fish they have that bear fat with it. PP: While you were up there, did you eat fish all the time? TM: Yeah. She loved, Old Lady Gramma used to eat fish. She'll eat fish for breakfast, in the morning, fish for lunch, fish for supper. I get tired of it myself. When they serve it to me I eat it, but ___ good fresh fish, you know, really good. PP: Yeah. Well she must have had different recipes for it, different ways of -- TM: She just straight boiled it, but then she -- the way she used to cook it, there'd be a great big pot outside, four or five fish in there, cut 'em into small pieces. And as soon as they start boiling, it's done. You boil it too long, she don't want to cook it too long, it falls apart. PP: Any greens in there in the pot? TM: Just salt. That's all, water and salt. PP: While you were up there, did you pick berries or any roots or anything? TM: Oh yeah, we picked, right around Brooks Lake around there, that would be right on the beach there PP: Oh, right where it's marked #10 . TM: That's a little lake right in there. PP: Oh, I see it. TM: Her house right on the end of it. PP: So the house wasn't right on the beach or was it? TM: Right on the beach, right over here. PP: Okay, so and then just inland was that little lake. TM: Right around there was a lot of highbush berries, we used to pick some in there. PP: Oh, highbush cranberries? TM: Mm hm. And then up here, right over here on the beach, they had a lot of __ where we liked to pick berries. PP: And what kind of berries were there? TM: Highbush berries, same thing. PP: How about blueberries or salmonberries? Any of those? TM: No salmonberries, I didn't see, but blackberries, sometimes we go on the top of the mountain PP: Oh, Dumpling Mountain? TM: Dumpling Mountain. There was no trail. Now today there's a trail in there. Trail goes all the way up. They used to -- some people used to go up there and pick blackberries, a lot of blackberries and blueberries up there. A lot of 'em. There's so thick up there you walk and see your footprints. PP: How about cranberries? Lowbush? TM: There's cranberries right in there too, they're all, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries. And those highbush berries right down in the valley down there. There used to be, they used to get, one time we got a bear right on top of Dumpling Mountain.
PP: You got a bear up there? TM: I don't know why we went up and got three of them. We seen them in the field glasses up there. When three of us walked up there, I got tired. And we got 'em all and we made about two, three trips up there in one day, packing the meat down. I don't know why we got 'em all the way up on top there. PP: At least it was downhill coming back. TM: Yeah, downhill coming back, I was tired, but coming down we'd pack, we used to get a rope and PP: How many pounds do you figure you can pack at one time? TM: I carried the hindquarters and the front quarters together, and that's 100 pounds there, and they're heavy! They're heavy! PP: Gosh! TM: And the ribs, we never leave, all we leave behind up there was the head and the skin, that's all. Everything goes home. We never waste it. PP: Yeah. Did you get a bear pretty much every -- at least one every time you went up there? TM: Yeah, when we go up there we get a bear, one or two, yeah. PP: Let's see. Did you ever use the place in any of these lakes for ice fishing? TM: In the wintertime we used to go up there in Trefon's Cabin up there . We'd get some fish through the ice. Or we have a big opening, we'd have a little skiff up there, row in there, get two-three fish in there and go back home. PP: What kind of fish are those? TM: It's a rainbow. Rainbow and lake trout. PP: And is this jigging? TM: Jigging PP: How do you do the hole in the ice? TM: Sometimes they'd use an ice pick. And sometimes it'd be already -- the ice up there doesn't get that thick. PP: Oh, it doesn't? TM: They get maybe 4", 1' maybe. When it's frozen you walk across. You gotta have a skiff even now. If you go across, don't stay over there any more than half an hour. Sometimes you go back in a half an hour and you're already open. It's not like down here. PP: Even in the dead of the winter it doesn't freeze up all the way? TM: It freezes, but as soon as it warms up it open up right now. So you get over there, you gotta have a skiff over there. And you gotta have an ice pick or it's really dangerous. We always have a skiff other the side there, the lake shore. And if it's open, we take like seven dogs, maybe. A little tiny skiff'll hold two dogs in there, go back and forth, take.
PP: This is in the winter when you're ice fishing? TM: Yeah, and then you take the dogs across in the sled, and they'll sit still in the skiff there. They just sit still till you get 'em off the boat, then you get off and let them out and chain 'em up and go back, two more. Then the sled. And Trefon and I used to go up there during the falltime, also, just to __. He used to have a cabin right in here someplace. PP: About where I've got marked , there was a cabin . TM: He's got a cabin right in there. He used to hunt beavers down here. PP: So this would be after you've come back from the redfish and bears, TM: This was during the wintertime. PP: During the winter, OK. TM: We could come all the way over here with a dog team, go around to here, this cove, and it'd be frozen all the way around but they're open. Him and I used to come across PP: Okay, we've got marked . TM: above the open water, and come across to here. PP: Okay, so this is about the extent of the ice, where I'm drawing this dotted line. TM: There'd be open water right down here, about. We'd come way up this way and come all the way over here, and up to the cabin up here. Trefon's got a cabin right in there. PP: Oh, so this was -- you had a trapline for beaver? TM: We had a trapline right in, along this area, right in, all the way up this way, yeah. PP: Wow. TM: That's where we used to go trap beavers during the winter. And Mike and Johnny used to be over then. PP: At . So at they same time of year they'd have their beaver trapline. TM: Yeah. Trefon, him and I would come up here. PP: Did you get muskrats too? TM: Yeah, muskrat, land otters, there were a lot of beaver around there. Then also we stayed in the cabin, too, sometimes just a day, maybe. Then Paul Chukan had a cabin down the river, right down here. PP: Right above here? TM: That's where I seen the calendar, 1947. PP: Okay, , Paul Chukan's cabin.
PP: Did you ever cache things, like over the winter, anywhere up here? TM: Cache them? PP: Cache them, like if you had, I mean leaving coffee, or something like that, you'd leave that in the cabins over the winter? TM: Yeah, we'd leave tea, coffee in there, whatever was leftover, you know, what we don't need, when somebody come by and maybe need them. He'd get stranded, we always leave, even wood. Sometimes we cut wood, we're hoping somebody would do the same thing when they're stopping, but most of the time we come back and there's no wood . PP: Oh, that's crummy. What about bird eggs. Did you collect any seagull eggs? TM: Oh, yeah, during, seagull eggs, during summertime we used to go up the lake and get some eggs. PP: So that was before you'd go up for the camp, you'd just go up on day trips? TM: Right on the islands here, and there are some islands up right around here. PP: Yeah, we've got those marked . So you'd go all the time. When in the summer do they lay their eggs? TM: I think in June, June 20, somewhere around there. Yeah, June 15, 20. That's the time to get 'em. It gets later than that, why then they'd be almost hatching. PP: Little birds. TM: Yeah, get there in time, pick them up. PP: How about ducks or geese? Any waterfowl that you got in there? TM: There's a few ducks in there, a lot of mallards in there. But swans and geese, I never see 'em around the lake, I don't know why. A lot of ducks in there though. PP: Did you used to hunt them? TM: Sometimes we see 'em, every time we get 'em too. Whenever we're hungry for ducks, why then they'd take some ducks. PP: So, let's see. You talked about when you were about 13 or something, coming up to the Brooks Camp, and then did you keep coming throughout your teenage years and then into adult years too? TM: Yeah. Yeah, we'd go up there every falltime, and then later on after we come back down, then we'd go back up again just to go hunting. We never stayed very long, maybe a couple of nights, then come back down again. Then maybe we'd get, maybe 100 small fish, whatever we get, take 'em home.
PP: How did it -- I'm not sure how to ask this, but this was a national park. Did that make any difference to you? I mean did you think about that when you were there, that this was in a national park, or was it just part of the land? TM: I never dream of the parkland. Only building I seen there, Fish and Game building, I used to see them working in the -- counting fish at the waterfalls PP: At Brooks Falls? TM: Yeah, Brooks, right in the beginning, Fish and Game was right in here, they used to count fish every year. They had that bridge all the way across there. That's where they count all the fish by hand. PP: You mean you remember that from when you were young? TM: Yeah, I used to go up there and watch them, yeah. They had the whole lake there blocked off, all the way across. PP: Oh yeah? TM: You know, they have sticks all the way across and they have -- they put those 3/4" or 2" pipes and they just put 'em together like that and they just -- all the way across -- and they got a door in there, just a little door in front there where the fish go through and they stand there and watch PP: And they've got a counter in their hands? TM: Count 'em by hand. Yeah. And sometimes they tag the fish in there, somehow they scoop the fish up and they tag it and let it go. And Park Service wasn't -- they were around there too, they were later, way later, later on. PP: Like after the war? TM: Yeah. PP: When do you remember the Park Service being around? TM: When we used to go up there, Nick Melgenak and Pelagia, there was no park rangers around there, just all I see is Fish and Game in those days. And that's the only ones I see, Fish and Game right in there. PP: When you grew up and went as an adult, were the park rangers around then? TM: Not -- I don't recall park rangers there. Fish and Game. And I never see no tourists around. Once in a while an airplane lands there, but they'd land there and then take off again. There was hardly anybody.
PP: When did the changes start? TM: Huh? PP: When did it start changing, getting more people? TM: I don't know, I can't remember what year people started coming in. Later on, where NCA built up there. That Northern Consolidated Airlines. They built all the buildings up there. PP: All the concessions? TM: Mm hm. And we used to go up there -- we was up there when they were building, also. Getting those cabins up there. NCA on it. And they had two more planes with floats on it. Then their pilot was named Johnny Walatka. I used to go and see 'em when they landed that plane, bringing some tourists in there. PP: I bet you didn't have any idea that so many people would start using that place. TM: Mm hm. No idea, no. PP: Did anybody mind when they started building there? TM: No. PP: They were like across the -- what other side? TM: The other side of the river -- other side there where Nick Melgenak and Pelagia stayed, and they started building on the other side over there. Then we had a tent right in on the other side of the creek. And Paul Chukan used to have a cabin. He used to put his tent up right on the other side there, that's where, right where, right across from us in there. He had his own fish rack and then Trefon Angasan also. He had -- Trefon Angasan used to have a cabin right where they're building, right in there. Right where they got all the buildings. Yeah, he had a cabin and they tore it down. It was a nice log cabin. PP: I forgot to ask you when we were talking about the net -- netting the fish, the redfish. So did you have one person in a skiff and one person on land? TM: Like we had -- we'd go in a little ways from there and then we'd run a little skiff in there. We'd have maybe a 10 fathom net, we don't use too long, we'd get too many fish. And they're just so thick in there. We'd just go up there with our old 9-horse motor, and they run real loud, too. Just go up there, and the net will be right in the boat, you know.
TM: And stop on the beach and see all the fish ___ there. And one guy'd get off on the beach and hang onto the rope, and all of a sudden we'd just push the boat off. There's a kind of strong current in there. PP: You push it out into the creek? TM: And then one guy holds the line. And then we go up to the skiff. One guy throw the net out and the other guy runs the motor, and we just drift down, drift down ___. And then one drift, you get maybe 400, 500 fish. And they're just caught in there. As you go around the net just sunk, so much fish on, it just sunk. Then we drag 'em over. PP: With the skiff? You just bring the skiff up to shore? TM: Then enough fish in there, the guy on the beach would let the line go. And then we get enough fish on there, there's enough fish on there. PP: So you let some of 'em out? TM: No, some of 'em just get out by the net, it's so full. And then we just drag it, tow the net behind the outboard, tow it all to where we're gonna be cleaning the net. And it takes us a while to clean the net, because they're hard to come off, all those teeth, you gotta be careful, that you can cut your fingers. Sharp. PP: Was this a nylon net? TM: Nylon net -- no those days we had only linen. I didn't see no nylon nets. PP: What was the gauge? TM: I think it was same they got now. The gauge was -- I don't know, same gauge what we got now with nylon, you know. They were all linen. They got the wooden corks. Those wooden corks, and the leadline would be -- lead would be, you'd see lead. Leads, they're about 5, 6" apart. PP: Oh, okay. And did the men or the women make their own nets, or you bought the nets? TM: They could buy nets down there at the canneries, I guess. And maybe 10 fathoms, 10 fathoms of net, maybe a little longer, even, would be enough cause with one drift you get a lot of fish. And then after you get done cleaning it, you take a rest, soon as you want to get more, you make another drift again. And sometimes they go right in the mouth, right in here.
PP: The mouth of Brooks River? TM: Yeah, right in here, and they just throw the net out over the lake. And then we get lake trout in there. Lake trout and rainbows, big ones. PP: Like 2 1/2 feet? TM: They're big, yeah, they're big. PP: But you don't dry those, do you? TM: Yeah, they do. They split them, and they're really ___, those lake trout. You get 'em right in deep water, right in here. PP: Just right in there off the mouth of the river. That's pretty much where the sports fishermen fish now, isn't it? Out there? TM: Yeah, right in the mouth there, right in the deep water in there. You get lake trout right in there too. But we didn't get that many, but we get some in there. You get mostly rainbows in there, sometimes lake trout get caught, but they still get redfish in there. They'd be full in the mornings, too. Just overnight. We get all kinds of fish in there. PP: Do you still like to eat redfish? TM: Oh yeah, I like it today. PP: Have you noticed any changes in the amount of resources -- whether bears, or fish or beavers, or any of those things through the years? TM: There used to be some beavers around that creek around the area, in there, but now the beavers PP: You mean even in Brooks River there used to be beavers around there? TM: There used to be beavers around the area, and they used to come around there, but bears get 'em I think. And they're just gone. But there's a lot of 'em out in the lakes. PP: How about numbers of fish? TM: Still a lot of fish in there today. PP: Bears? TM: Bears, a lot of bears. PP: Same number? TM: Bears seem to be more; in those days -- those days we used to go up there and there wouldn't be that many of them. There were bears around there, but not that many. PP: Now, even thought this might be out of the park, what about seal hunting. Did you ever go seal hunting? TM: I never -- we get seals right in the river down here, we see one, we used to try to get him, and we get him sometimes. Then we -- moose hunting, too. And this was all open.
PP: Okay, this is the part, just really towards the mouth of Naknek Lake that you're pointing to. TM: Used to come all the way up here, to get some moose right around there. PP: Up to where we've got , . TM: I think that boundary was at this island here. PP: Yeah, it used to be; now they've changed the boundary. This is the old one. TM: That's the old one, yeah. We used to hunt moose PP: Did you purposely hunt outside of the boundary? TM: Yeah, we didn't go this side of it because we know the place is closed in here. So we wouldn't get moose right in here. There were a lot of moose all over. PP: What do you mean, "closed in here"? TM: It's closed for moose -- reason they had a boundary in there. They wouldn't let us go inside that line, cause it's closed. We know about that. PP: Did they ever get anybody for hunting inside? TM: No. Nobody'd go in there. PP: So you were just really careful to stay outside. TM: Yeah, we'd just camp around here and get moose. I used to go in there and get moose myself, right in here. PP: Yeah, right at . And what about belugas? TM: Belugas. I used to hear 'em talk about belugas, but it was before my days, I guess, and they used to -- springtime, like that, they used to chase 'em in. When a bunch of 'em come in, they have a bunch of kayaks would get right behind 'em. And they'd chase 'em all the way up to -- when they come in here, I guess -- they'd chase 'em all the way up to the rapids. PP: Oh really! TM: Where it's shallow water. And they'd just spear 'em all. They said they'd get so many of 'em in there the water'd just turn red. Everybody'd butcher and butcher until they get 'em all. PP: Wow. Did you ever see some of those old time kayaks when you were young? TM: I used to see them a long time ago. I barely remember. They had them where I was born down there, South Naknek. I was born in that little fishing village down there. I've seen kayaks in there. I used to see two of 'em in there. They ___ cross the river. PP: So you were born at South Naknek, or at a smaller place? TM: South Naknek, right above South Naknek. A fish village, that's where. It's above King Salmon -- no, above South Naknek. It would be something, I guess right here. A little creek right up here. It would be right here someplace, yeah, that little dot. There's a little creek in there.
PP: Do you ever collect -- like are there good places for clams and mussels and shellfish? Shrimp or anything? TM: Uh, I seen shrimp. Sometimes we go out on the beach and get some clams, down there, way down right on the beach there. They're all over down there. But I never seen 'em get any shrimp. They said that a lot of shrimp's out there, but we never would get 'em. PP: Did you have any other traplines besides this beaver trapline? TM: They used to -- just right around the area here. We'd be around the area too, around here. PP: What about foxes or mink? Or lynx? TM: Foxes, mink. Lynx, there are very few of 'em around. Sometimes when they see 'em they get 'em. Or they get caught in a trap on the land otter set, sometimes they get caught in there. PP: What about rabbits? TM: Rabbits? Yeah, they get rabbits. They're real easy to get. Snares. We'd get a snare right in their trail. PP: Is that something that kids would do? TM: Yeah, they're real easy. PP: What about ptarmigan? TM: Ptarmigan, yeah, ptarmigan in the wintertime. Rabbits, ptarmigans, and we used to go duck hunting too, during the falltime. PP: Where would TM: We would duck hunt up at the rapids . Right down here. That's where we used to stop, and I think farther out on this point here, they'd go back. Like early in the morning they'd go down and late in the evening they'd come back up. They'd come up here. PP: Mary Jane told me about a place called "the eating rock" . TM: Yeah. PP: Tell me about that. TM: Eating Rock. That would be located -- remember that place I told you about? PP: Here's the rapids, right here. Is it near the rapids? TM: Right there. That's where the Eating Rock is, right there. Right in that curve in the river. PP: That mark just before TM: Yeah, it looks like you got that marked there. PP: Yeah. So I'm gonna put that 1G . TM: That's where -- we used to go through there, you know, we'd sometime in the falltime, with both -- we're towing all, we used to have a hard time going through. Sometimes we'd go backwards. PP: Oh yeah? TM: Yeah, and sitting there, sometimes you'd realize you're going backwards. And we go through there. END OF TAPE
PP: You were talking about TM: The eating rock there, we used to go by there, maybe from here, you know, we go so close to the deep water. We go to the other side of it, you know. Big boat. We'd be going by there real slow, like that, you know, barely passing it. And that old lady Gramma, we used to call her, Pelagia, she'll talk to that rock. Holler at it and throw some food at it, ___, any kind of food, like bread, meat, and on our way back we'd be going faster cause we're going down with the current, so on the way back she'd give it fish, meat, anything, throw it at him and talk to it -- I don't know what she's saying about the ___. She'd be talking and talking at the same time and throw the food at the eating rock. So we called it the Eating Rock. PP: Did she ever tell you why she did that? TM: No, she never did say. But she called it -- she had a name for it. But people today they call it the Eating Rock, but she used to call it kaligtuq. She named it. They name 'em that, that rock. PP: Does that have a meaning, that name? TM: Just a name, that's just a name. Kaligtuq. That's that eating rock. I don't know why they -- why that, I don't know. I never did find out. PP: You know, after the eruption, did New Savonoski already exist or did they make a new village there when they moved there? TM: After the eruption? PP: Yeah, did they make a new place or were there already some people living there when they moved down from the eruption? TM: That I don't know. That happened before I was PP: Yeah. I thought maybe they talked about that. TM: They talked about that. They used to talk about that. Me and ___, I used to listen to them talking about it. Katmai up there. They said that they think that's the end of the world, the big sparks, and they moved out of there. They moved to Savonoski -- I don't know how they got to Savonoski, down there. And, when they moved to New Savonoski down here, her same first husband was with them.
PP: Oh, that's before she was married to Nick. TM: Pete. Before she was married to Nick. PP: So was he over on the Douglas side during the eruption? TM: Yeah, mm hm. And he was around the area too. Yeah, he was around there. Nick Melgenak was there too, but when that happened he happened to be over at Old Savonoski at the time. PP: Oh he did. TM: Yeah. And after that they, that was the end of that walking over to Douglas. PP: Yeah. Can't really walk over the hot rocks. Plus everything changed. I mean the valley TM: They used to -- they said that where they walked back there, you could walk there with shoes on, it was really good walking. They could see people coming over the hills, and there's no trees. PP: So it was like a highway. TM: Yeah, and they see moose. Miles away. Anything, wolves, they could see. And they said it was real good walking that -- after that stuff, that ash -- and the ashes were so thick in there, maybe a foot thick, maybe, and it settled down, you know, real good walking. And after that, they said, those trees really grow. Must have been stuff to grow, really just trees pop out. PP: Good nutrition for the trees. TM: Yeah, they used to talk about that Katmai there. I don't know how long it last, but earthquakes and all that. And the water just, later on they get so much ashes in there, they get thick, in there, in the water. PP: I wonder what it did to the fish. TM: Then the moose were hardly getting around. PP: Could hardly get through the ash, yeah. Some of the people have told me that they used to, just on their own, if they wanted to get away from civilization, they'd just head out for the Naknek Lake sometimes. Did you used to do that? TM: Yeah. They'd go up and get 'em because they're -- you get 'em earlier down here, the meats are red yet. And in September you come up here, you get 'em, the meat turn kind of -- the skin's kind of red PP: Yeah TM: And the meat turns white. All the fat is gone from it PP: Oh, I didn't know that it turns white.
TM: They dry better and test better, even. All the fat is gone from it. They ones that she split, and those ones we could eat 'em when they're dry. You just air dry it outside, you know, and then really good eating, you put butter on it and really good eating. They still make them today. But it's gotta be cold. But if it turns warm like that they spoil right away. That's the reason we'd go up there really late in the fall, that way they won't spoil. PP: It's already sometimes frost at night? TM: Yeah, frost, whenever that happens, frost, they say it's time to go home. PP: Oh yeah? TM: Gets cold, north wind blowing, get a little frost in the boat sometimes, and they decide that one week ahead, they decide that. PP: Oh, based on the weather. TM: Mm hm. They watch the weather, like they get up maybe 4 or 5:00 in the morning. "Time to get up, Teddy!" . PP: But this is a big, big lake. What's it like in a little boat on that lake? TM: It gets pretty rough sometimes. They used this -- we'd be traveling from here right along to here, along the beach here. PP: You'd go along the south shore? TM: Yeah, we'd go in the deep water. PP: Oh, in the deep water! TM: Yeah, deep, yeah, right in here, deep water. And from here, from this point right here, sometimes we'd just shoot straight across to there. PP: Over to this little island. TM: And then go by here, down through here, we wouldn't go out here, there's shallow water out here. PP: Oh, so you didn't really hug the coast so much, you would come up this way TM: Yeah, not too close, out of the shallow water, inside, and come right along through here on the beach, all the way down and straight across to here. PP: Oh, wow, so you were going across some big waves. Did TM: Mm hm. Sometimes we'd drop by in there and see Johnny and Mike and that. PP: Yeah. Did you have your own dog team when you were a young man? TM: Mm hm. PP: How many dogs did you keep? TM: Probably about 14 dogs. PP: Wow. TM: See, that's what we -- we used to cook for them, we cooked fish in there, we got big drum. We cut the drum, you know a foot high, old drum, and open it up.
PP: Yeah, and make it into a big kettle? TM: Then the stove part would be in the bottom and put that pot right on top and leave a hole in the bottom there and just put wood in there, and boil that fish. PP: So this was for your dogs. TM? Yeah, then we'd cool it off and in the evening time we'd feed the dogs. They have all the fish they want in there. They have fish heads, guts, and boil 'em together, you know. They really like that. Then when we're ready to go home, then we'll get all the fish in there early in the morning, after breakfast in the morning, and all the fish, we'll be packing 'em all down and just leave that rack there for next year. Next year we come back, the rack's still there. Then all the meat, the caribou and that PP: Bear meat? TM: bear meat, put 'em in the boat also. Then the dogs get in there in the back, wherever, we don't put 'em right by our fish. PP: So they'd be in the same boat with the fish but you'd have some sort of barrier? TM: Right in the back, put 'em all together. PP: And are they kind of chained up in the boat? TM: They're chained up, yeah. Chain 'em up. We have to chain 'em up cause they'll run around all over. Like if I'm standing in the boat in the back, you got the oar stick, I sit in the back and the dogs'd be sitting right in front of me, there. PP: Oh, so is there a person in the back boat and you're steering the back boat even though it doesn't have an engine? TM: No motor, cause the boat right in front is pulling a long line, so you keep it in line. PP: Okay, I was wondering how you did that. I didn't realize there was a person back there. TM: Cause if they pull it without steering that, the boat would be going all different directions. You just follow the boat right behind, and just keep steering. That handle's about 4 feet long, I think, in the back, and just sit in the back. The rudder's pretty big and real ___. You pull the boat without turning right now. PP: How much -- what would you take down with you. Like salt and some tea and sugar, I supposed? Any bread or anything? TM: Mm hm. We -- Gramma, she takes care of all that. She makes sure she's got a lot of flour and dried up onions, you know, they come in that big jars, some come in a can. Coffee and tea.
PP: Did she make bread while you were down there? Like fry bread? TM: She makes a lot of -- like she'll bake that dough, or she mix it up like hotcake flour, and fry 'em right in grease, like a deep fryer, like they call 'em asaliaqs. PP: You call 'em what? TM: Asaliaq. PP: Asaliaq? TM: Yeah. And they're something like hotcakes, but except these are deep-fried in the grease. And she'd make a lot of those and there'd be enough sugar PP: Was she the only woman with the group that went down? TM: We had one over there, we had one little girl there. I was the last one she raised. There was a little girl there named Effie . But she died a while back in Anchorage some place. And she used to be with us too but she left, you know. I'd go up there with a whole bunch, Trefon and the whole family. Nick Melgenak and Pelagia. PP: Did they have -- did it seem that the women had one type of job and the men had a different type of job? TM: No, they all get together, yeah. PP: So everybody cut the fish and everybody turned it, and did all that? TM: Yeah, they'd be starting in the morning after breakfast, and when everybody get together it don't take long. The fish rack would all of a sudden be hanging, hanging all the fish you know. Don't take long, it's all done and done for the rest of the day. PP: When did you stop going up there every year? TM: We stop going up there as soon as it get too cold. PP: No, I mean like how old were you or when TM: Last time I worked there was -- and last time she went up there too, I think last time we were up there was with Trefon Angasan PP: After she died? TM: Before she died. And I remember her in a boat. We had one of these Alaska Packer's boats. They used to be, that's at Trident Seafoods. In those days, name of it was Alaska Packers. We had one of those boats. We went up to Brooks Lake and back. That's the last time I think I seen Pelagia went up there. PP: When did she die? TM: I don't know what year was that. PP: I don't remember. I remember I heard but I can't remember when it was. TM: I think Mary Jane got that date. On a paper. I keep forgetting what year was that. Then she moved to South Naknek from Savonoski.
PP: I guess one question I have, it sounds as though most of your subsistence activities had to do with the park. Or it wasn't the park then but it is now, more than this part downriver. Sounds like you really were more oriented towards the lakes and upriver. TM: They come up there, fall, men would go hunting, during the falltime, that's in August month. Moose hunting. They come up here real late when it get cold. The reason for that, they come up here late September cause the fish doesn't spoil. Gets cool air then. They could hang it up and bring it home, all the way down here, Savonoski, through rapids. PP: Did you do much with the reindeer or caribou around here? TM: They used to talk about -- later on, they talked about caribou herders, reindeer herders. They were Lapplanders, they'd come in, somewhere, the government sent them in there, I guess, and they had caribou all over the place around here. Nowadays they don't do that anymore, they're all over now. PP: Did those Lapplanders sort of intermarry and stay in the area? TM: Mm hm. That same area between here, around here, and Savonoski, King Salmon, South Naknek, all the way down to Egegik I think. Yeah, they, somehow they take care of 'em. They know their caribous. Everybody knows their own. PP: Cause they had brands I guess or marks of some kind? Yeah. Did you eat a lot of reindeer or caribou when you were young? TM: I used to eat some, yeah. They'd get 'em whenever they're hunting for caribou meat and they'd get 'em. PP: Okay, so you wouldn't hunt them, you'd wait and then buy 'em like from the herders or how would that work? TM: No, they'd give it to you, whatever they want when they get -- they're all over, they come right down, and they got bells, too, they got collars. Their bells are, they're about maybe half the size of this phone here. PP: Oh, the telephone? TM: Yeah, they put 'em on. That's how they find 'em, and they'd go move someplace else and you hear a bell. PP: So the people didn't follow them; they just let 'em go and then every now and day they'd go looking TM: Yeah, then the next day they look for them and find them. And they got bells on them.
PP: Was there a kind of a swap, like you'd give them fish and then they'd give you reindeer meat? TM: No. I never hear them do that. But they say whenever they hungry for one, then they shoot one or two. Only when they're needed. PP: Mm hm. So they didn't have, like every fall or something a harvest where they kill some of them. TM: No. PP: When you went trapping, who'd you sell your pelts to? TM: We -- some, when I used to trap, I used to trap at Savonoski there. One winter one guy from Iliamna Lake came down to live with us, down trapping. And the fur buyers come by during the spring, this time of year, buying minks and land otter. PP: They're from where? Anchorage? TM: They're from Anchorage, fur buyers. PP: When did that stop? They don't still do that, do they? TM: No, right now you just send to fur buyers, wherever they still buy. PP: Oh. So there's still a market? TM: Yeah. Then there was a place called Maas and Stephan . I don't know their address but we sent some minks out there to them, then they'd send you a check. $20 for a mink, maybe or land otter for $40. Beaver, I don't know how much for beaver. PP: Do you know how much lynx were, just out of curiosity? TM: Right now? PP: Well, someone told me that some years they'd be $10, and some years they'd be $1000. TM: Yeah, one year the lynx, that was about 10 years ago, I think, the lynx was about $600. And there was no lynx around here. No today I think they're way down, maybe $20, $25. They're way down. PP: Wow. Are there -- do you know if there're more beavers in the area? TM: Yeah, right now there's a lot of beavers. Beaver, even up here, there's little lakes. But I notice when I come up here in the airplane at least summertime, going back and forth a lot, there's beavers all over around through here. PP: Where your trapline used to be. TM: Mm hm, yeah. And lakeside around here. I see a lot of beaver house right around this area here. PP: Let me mark that as a . TM: All over, right around here, in all these lakes. PP: Basically, from J to K . TM: I could see from the air a lot of beavers. PP: Really.
PP: You said there may be more bears in the park. Are there more bears out of the park now, like in Savonoski, or South Naknek or anything? Or even on the tundra? TM: I think during the summertime they're all down this way, around where the fish are. Like in, I got up to the Park Service on April 25, and the last couple of years I've been up there, April 25, we go up there, the 27th PP: That's when the season starts for you? TM: Yeah, and last year I had to quit on account of I had to go to the hospital. Now I'm ready to go back there this week. Can't wait. And not even one bear up there. Not even one. That's April, go up there April 27, 25. May, there's no bears up there until June. June 20, maybe and the bears start coming around. PP: So they're all downriver. TM: They're all someplace, I don't know where they're at. Or up in the mountains. Or Pacific side. In July, fish come in and the bears come in. They know when, the bears. The fish are so thick up there. It's shallow water in there right now. Summertime, you have to go across a bridge. In April, we walk across in our knee boots. All the way across. PP: This is across Brooks River? Right at the mouth of it? TM: Mm hm. Brooks, right in here. Then water, in June, the water raises a little bit then, then fish comes in. They're not even red, they're shiny. They're not even red. There seem thousands of 'em. Each morning, when you walk down there early in the morning, maybe we'd go 7:00 in the morning, we'd go down there, that creek would just, just all over PP: Shimmering with them TM: Soon as we go down there, the water starts smoking. They see you, they all take off. And then some bears, they get all excited, they jump right in the middle of it and grab one. Just a big splash! Some of 'em are kind of dumb to get 'em, they can't get 'em. PP: The bears? TM: Yeah. But some of 'em are real experts. They know how to get 'em. You watch 'em right in there, some of 'em will be grabbing 'em. Can't get 'em. PP: Now, do you know -- you must know the bears by sight, which ones are which ones. TM: Yeah, you see 'em every day and you recognize ones. They know you too. One up there, his name is "Diver."
PP: I've heard of Diver. I think I saw Diver. I was up there many -- he's old, isn't he? TM: He's old, really dark color. And he has a scar right on the back right here. Diver. He was up there all summer last year. I asked the park rangers, "Diver up there?" "Yeah, good shape." And hoping he'll come back this year again. Diver. He's a big bear, he's real dark. He's a good bear, that one, there. He doesn't bother nobody, he doesn't chase anybody. He'll walk right by you from here to that wall there. Just keep going. He's big. He's a good bear. He doesn't look at you, he just keeps going. Been coming through there a lot, 25 years, they said. Same bear. That's Diver. PP: Yeah. I was there in '87 or '88, and he was there. TM: Yeah, he was there last year too. Couple of years ago, when we were there, '83, he was in bad shape. He was limping. PP: He'd been in a fight? TM: He'd been in a fight. But last year he was in good shape, yeah. I seen him there. I seen him chase out bears. But some of them fight back. That's probably what happened, he got hurt. PP: What do you do out there? What's your job up there? TM: My job was making all kinds of work. But I quit last year account of my health, last year. Then I lost my position this year. I was burning trash at the incinerator, cleaning bathrooms, and cleanup down campgrounds every day, I go out and keep the area there, keep the bathrooms clean. Garbage, make sure they're all clean. I'll be doing that this summer. This summer I'll be doing -- building a new bridge. We're gonna build a new one. PP: Oh, I heard that -- like a boardwalk? TM: Mm hm, something like that. I'm gonna be building that. Me and -- you know Lorianne in Anchorage? Her husband and I gonna be in there. We need one more guy but I don't know who they're gonna give us.
PP: So you're looking forward to that. TM: Then we'll be building a bridge and they said it'll take us two weeks to do it. And after that we'll be cutting trees in there, making a new trail towards the falls. They did a new platform last fall. PP: That's what I heard. It's a lot bigger. TM: They said it's a big one. And we're gonna build a new road going up to it. I don't know where at, lower, or upper end. I don't know where. And we're gonna be cutting trees and there anyways, and instead of going way around that way, must be from below it, a short cut. A little wider. And then we're gonna be working on the road between there and the Valley of 10,000 Smokes also. That will be my job. PP: That'll be cool. Do you ever look at those old house pits in the archaeology, the site there? TM: Oh, yeah. I didn't realize those were house pits. I just found out last year that those were barabaras. They're -- this creek right here, creek's right in here. And right along through here, on this side over there, going up through PP: Sort of right up the terrace, isn't it? TM: Yeah, right all over, I see a lot of them. There's just lots of 'em in there. I didn't realize they were -- I just found out last year they were supposed to be barabaras. PP: Oh, so Pelagia never used to talk about those? TM: Yeah, some huge ones, maybe big, two times bigger than this room, they're really big, some of them. You see doorways, and everything. You still could see them. When you go up that way, walk up toward that -- they call "pit house". PP: Yeah, the one that they've got sort of covered over or something? TM: Yeah, you walk right behind it back there, or you walk a little below it, that's where you'll run into 'em. Even a trail, you go up there, going up towards pit house, and you'll see them old barabaries. There are a lot of 'em in there. PP: I guess you can see 'em easier early on, before the bushes grow, or can you see 'em pretty much all year? TM: Yeah, you see it, like in April. Right now you could see it real, you could see right through the trees in there, and you could see them ditches all over. Cause they're all over. As far as you could see. PP: So you know that people used to live there. TM: Must have been thousands of people in there before. PP: Wow. TM: And right down below there, there's grass in there. They said that's where the river used to be. PP: Oh. TM: And it moved way over there.
PP: That makes sense, cause it is, cause there's that terrace, so that was the old riverbed there. TM: Yeah, and there's houses right along in there. And there's grass right down below, they said that's where it used to be river. And that -- some of them, there's trees in there now, growing, there used to be no trees in there. PP: Yeah. Did the old lady gramma ever used to talk about a qasgiq? TM: Oh, yeah, call it qasgiq. They talked about them a lot. PP: What'd she say they used to do there? TM: Qasgiq. That's -- today I don't know what they are but I heard by listening. The qasgiq, when they mentioned. That's where everybody get together in there and all that, they'll have meetings, and all that in there, I don't know PP: Dancing, I've heard about yu'aqing. TM: They'll dance, wherever, stick, drums, maybe. PP: Did they ever tell you about gambling? Remember in Kodiak, did you see Larry Matfay -- remember, did you see him doing that gambling game? TM: They used to gamble, but I never -- they never come up with that one. PP: That was cool! TM: That was a stick, huh? PP: Yeah, a stick in which hand? TM: No, that stick he was holding; what was that? I didn't quite get that one. PP: There was a marked stick and there was a plain stick. Yeah, and you win by choosing the marked stick. But he always won. TM: They talked about some things that sometimes I never used to understand what they're talking about. I'd listen to Nick , I'd understand them but I don't know what they mean. They used to gamble. Then gambling was about -- they played a lot of those checkers, too, those days. PP: Oh yeah? TM: They make 'em out of trees, you know. You seen them? They were real sharp, they were all different designs. And how they know how to make that, kings and -- PP: Oh, so like chess, oh! TM: Yeah, they make them. And then the chess would be that big table and they'd play PP: Well the Russians loved chess, so they must have learned that from TM: They play it. Some of them were real experts. They'll nail you all the time .
PP: I'm not gonna play! TM: Yeah, they'll corner you. They're so good and you really can't move. PP: Checkmate, huh? TM: Yeah. Those guys also had darts. They made a little pig. PP: A little pig? TM: A little pig out of wood. PP: And then they hang it or something? TM: And they hang it up off the wall, maybe about a foot off the floor, and hang it up, and the pig would be so big, you know PP: So it might be maybe 6, 8" or something? END OF SIDE
TM: They were good at it. PP: Did they -- do you ever remember any stories about humans turning into animals or any of that kind of story? TM: They used to talk about that. They, guy named Andrew Wassillie, used to live at Savonoski, they'd get together in evening time, and tell stories. They'd sit down and have a cup of tea, you know. Then I would be minding my own business, myself. And I'd decide to sit down and listen. And I understand every word what they're saying. Cause they're all talking Aleut language, you know. Native language. They'd talk about masquerading and all that. PP: Oh, they did? I've heard about that. TM: Masquerading on January 13, I think yeah, 13th, before New Years. Maybe not. Could be -- yeah, before that, three days before the 13th, and they used to do that in Savonoski down there. I used to be scared of 'em. PP: Oh, you never did the masking? You just watched 'em. TM: I watched 'em. PP: Did they go around the houses and visit? TM: Mm hm. PP: Did they whistle? TM: Yeah, they had -- I learned how to make them whistles. You take a stick. Put two together, then make a little hole in the middle, so big so it could get in your mouth. Then you put two ends together like that. It'd be two pieces. Then you get visqueen or something, not visqueen, it'd be -- what do they call them papers like? Real clear stuff you know? PP: Yeah. Like plastic or something. TM: Paper. And you put it right in there real tight. PP: In between the two pieces? TM: Yeah, between two pieces and you tie it together with a string. Make sure it's tight. You put that in your mouth, it works. PP: So you put it lengthwise in your mouth? TM: Lengthwise, yeah. PP: And then you just blow like blades of grass, huh? TM: I used to make them. They all work. Yeah, as long as that piece don't come off, they whistle. They put that on and they'll be wearing the masks.
PP: Yeah, what'd their masks look like? TM: They're like pillow, like a muslin pillow, white sheet. Put it over and they put eyes, and nose on a white sheet, and they color dark teeth, and you don't know who they are. You can't tell. PP: So they were totally covered up. TM: And then they wear gunny sack for boots. You just can't tell who they are. Sometimes two, three of 'em come in, you can't tell who they are. PP: So when they came into the house what did they do? TM: They just blow the whistle when they come in. And they just come in and watch you, that's all. PP: Oh, they didn't dance or anything like that? TM: They never dance, they go out the house. They come in. I used to run ___ and stay there, and I see, watch 'em, you know. Some of them got big hip boots on, gunny sack, big parka, like, you know, like those -- I don't know what they call those things. And the masks. Whistles. They all blow different songs on them. Depends how you make them, small, you know. And they go out the house, and January 13, that's midnight, and they gotta quit doing that. PP: Was there anything, a gathering all together on the 13th, like for New Year's? TM: Mm hm. There's a dance. PP: But they're not at that? They can be there up until midnight and then do they take the masks off and you saw who it was? TM: They quit using those masks after -- they told them not to mask any more after midnight. And before 13th of January, they can mask for two days, and after Russian Christmas. PP: But you didn't do it, huh? TM: I didn't do it. I got scared of 'em. PP: Did anybody ever tell a'ula'aq stories? TM: Aula'aq? PP: Arula'aq? TM: Arula'aq, they're monkeys. That's monkeys. They used to talk about that too. They used to say there was something up there, wherever they at them, old Brooks Lake, somewhere in there. They used to talk about them. But they never see it around here. But they call them a'ula'aqs. That's a monkey. Wherever they -- but they never -- once in a while they'll see some strange things, but their foot tracks. PP: It's like a bigfoot type thing? TM: Mm hm, like a bigfoot. They mention that once in a while.
PP: I heard a bunch of stories about that down Chignik and Perryville. TM: Yeah, they used to talk about that, they said that was going on. PP: And that scares little kids too. TM: Yeah. Those days they used to have chiefs and everything, you know. PP: Was One-Arm Nick one of the chiefs? TM: Yeah, he was the Savonoski chief. At Savonoski, he was a Russian Orthodox church reader. I learned a lot of it from him, also. And I never continued on, but I learned of it. PP: So did he teach you some Russian? TM: Mm hm, I can read the books. I don't know how they learned, they said they just learned by theirselves, I don't know how they do it. PP: Oh, really, so like he learned from his dad, maybe? Or other reader when he was young? TM: Pelagia Melgenak used to say that all they did was teach her husband, Nick Melgenak, those ABCs in Russian books and from there he picked it up himself. I read those myself also. PP: How many languages did they speak? TM: Just English and Native, Aleut Native. PP: They didn't speak very much Russian, just the church Russian? TM: Just the church books was Russian. And I learned some of those. Like their ABCs are different altogether. Our "a" would be "ah". And "b" same thing, "b". I used to read all the ABCs in there. We learned it out of those books also. Church books, you know. And I never continued on. I read lots in church. PP: You're a reader here? TM: I mean that old days. We used to go to church every Saturday, Sundays, holidays, and I used to PP: At Savonoski? TM: Mm hm, I used to read right in the church. Some I forgot today. Some I still remember.
PP: Did One-Arm Nick ever tell you how he lost his arm? TM: Mm hm. They used to talk about that when they get together. Long time ago, he started talking about his arm, how he lost it. He was driving a dog team, even Pelagia used to mention that once in a while. She was around there at the time, I think. He was traveling, I don't know where. He was going down the hill. Small hill, with a dog team. And that gun got caught in the sled -- in the trees, and the shotgun went off, shot him right in the arm. Lost his arm. PP: Gosh! And he didn't bleed to death, obviously. TM: Almost. But I don't know where they took him from there. I don't know, but they took him to Anchorage with a doctor, a small airplane. Must have been really in pain. Those days, they couldn't save the arm. They just cut 'em off, I guess. Gun went off. Shotgun. On the sled. PP: Was he already an old man at that time? TM: I don't think he was old. He must have been about 30; 25, 30. That old. He was driving a dogteam, and that gun went off. PP: Did they ever talk about her -- first husband was American Pete, right? Did they ever talk about him? TM: He was the reader also. He, she used to say he was from San Francisco. PP: Was he? How'd he end up here? TM: I think he came up with, come up with one of them schooners. But I don't know how he ended up all the way at Savonoski, through Douglas, I guess. I don't know where at, here, or met him. PP: But he spoke Native, huh? TM: Yeah. She teach him how to. PP: Oh, she had to teach him. TM: Yeah, then there's that church down there. I think him and One-Arm Nick built that. I don't know where they get their lumber from those days. They get all the lumber and they build it. Right today it's still in good shape. We're gonna work on it this summer. This fall, yeah. PP: I have to look when I fly over there; I have to look down and see it. TM: Yeah, old pictures are still in there. PP: Oh, they are? TM: Yeah. Still in there. Yeah.
TM: Huge pictures, that big, maybe big as this table here, still hanging on the wall. You still could make it out. But the rain been -- been raining, every time it rains -- so we talk about that not too long ago, me and Carvel Zimin and Earl Asplund, we're gonna put a tin roof on top, see if we can save it. Leave it in there, and waterproof it so the water doesn't leak in there. And paint the outside, put new windows in there. Make it look neat. Paint it up also. PP: Well, let's see. Is there anything you can think of that I forgot to ask you about subsistence? Like, let's see. We talked about September, October, then moose and summertime, eggs, and then beaver trapping later on in the winter, and ice fishing. Anything else that we didn't talk? TM: Summertime, that's before we go up to the lake, we used to put up fish down there at Savonoski. That's in July. We put up fish down there, maybe 7-800 fish, a thousand maybe. PP: So you have almost 2000 fish by the end of the summer. TM: Yeah, by the end of the -- after we come back late we have lots of fish and the dogs have lots to eat, also. We had a big smokehouse down at Savonoski. We had three smokehouses. And back in July we'd be catching fish all over, with just a little piece of net, maybe 25 fathoms. Then the next morning, early in the morning, and we'd pick fish. They're a lot easier to pick fish than the redfish. And the net would be just full too, also. And we clean the net, clean the fish, and pack 'em right on the beach, and cover 'em up and put green grass on 'em. Right on top. Then Old Lady Gramma wouldn't split them right away. Next morning, then she'd split them. They'd cover 'em up with green grass, hold 'em, you know.
PP: So she wanted 'em to cure overnight or something? TM: Overnight. They're easier, easier to split next morning. But if you split 'em right away they're too hard and they're kind of stiff like, you know, and you have to cut. PP: So wait for the rigor mortis to go away? TM: Next morning they'd be more soft and easier to cut. Then they used to go right in the barrels, you know, fill them half-full with water, fresh water, then she'd split 'em and throw them in there. Then they would take 'em out and wash 'em real clean and hang 'em up. They had a big fish rack right on the beach. And kings, she'd make strips out of 'em. Oh, they're really good. Yeah, the big kings, and she put salt on them. She'd soak 'em in that maybe 20 minutes, then hang 'em up. Boy, I used to eat them, they're really good eating! PP: Yeah, you're making me hungry. TM: Then after 3, 4 days, they all go in the smoke house. Smoke them all, keep 'em smoking, so no bugs could eat them. No flies, you know. PP: The smokehouse, is that a screen, or is it just wood? TM: It's all wood but there'd be a lot of cracks on the sides, you know, where you'd get a lot of air. No screen on 'em or nothing. Keep 'em smoking so the bugs won't get into 'em. PP: You had to tend that fire 24 hours, right? TM: Yeah, well you get a -- you use birch wood or either, you know, beavers cut them woods PP: Oh, the logs? TM: They find a lot of them on the beach. Get them up, they're the best. And the beavers clean it, you know. And there's no bark on it. And they're the best. That's what they would pick up on the beach. And they needed to cut 'em in small piece like that and use that for smoking. A big one like that will burn three, four hours. PP: So you can get some sleep. TM: Yeah. They'd be smoking all day the next day. Whatever, you know, I used to fire it up myself. Make sure there's no big flame on it. They don't want no big flame, then all the fish would be cooked. It'd be kippered, and they don't want 'em like that. So when they're done, maybe one month later, they take a whole month to do that smoking, and she'll test it, you know, and if the skin doesn't come off by itself you gotta pull it and then it's good. But when it's lose it'll spoil right away. PP: Oh. TM: Then after they're done we'll put some away, you know, and refill other ones up again, use more.
PP: How did the -- this was during commercial fishing right? So how did that affect the fishing that you did for subsistence? TM: There was no closed season around. They never come around and say "Well, get the net out," and they'd fish the whole week. Saturday and Sunday it's closed but up there every day, people's got nets out. Just for one net you get enough for a while. Whenever they're ready for that net out again. PP: So there were plenty of fish even with the commercial fishing. TM: Oh yeah, lots of fish. There's fish all over the river out there. It was thick. PP: Did you commercial fish too? TM: They used to. I used to commercial fish, but maybe next year I might go out. I'd go off and on, out there set net drifting with somebody else. PP: Course it's getting harder. Last year was pretty bad, I understand. TM: Pelagia used to set net a long time ago too. And Nick Melgenak. PP: Now when you setnet, that's different from the way you were getting, you were just talking about? Was it a different place they would set net or just off the beach from Savonoski? TM: Right off the beach, right in front. Just put your net out right there and the next day, it was loaded with fish. Sometime early in the morning she'd go ___ before the seagulls get into 'em. PP: So you didn't need to have a special fishcamp, cause you lived just right in a perfect place. TM: Right in Savonoski, yeah. Fish right in there. There were 3, 4 houses in there when I was there. One, two, three, four. Yeah, four houses, yeah. PP: And did you every go with her to collect the -- I don't know what they call it, mouse food, or the wild rice or any greens? Anything like that? TM: Oh yeah, we used to take two different kinds of spinach, you know. We call them ciwasaq. PP: Ciwasaq. TM: Mary Jane knows that. Ciwasaq. That's wild spinach. There's a lot of 'em, even right up here. They're all over on the beach. We pick them like spinach. PP: First thing in the spring? TM: Mm hm. You get 'em before they get too long. When they get too long, they'd be bony and no good, no more good. But you get 'em when they're growing. And also there's, in the creek swamps, there's a lot of those -- they have a -- later on, they start -- flowers come out, they'd be yellow. They grow right in the mud, in the water, right in the creek in the swamp. PP: Like a marigold, marsh TM: They're round.
PP: Kind of like a little ball? TM: No, not like -- they come out like a flower, real pretty flower. Yeah, it's only that big. PP: Size of a quarter maybe? TM: Yeah, mm hm. It'd be yellow. PP: And what does the leaf look like? TM: The leaves would look like, real long, like that, they're about that long, and the leaves like PP: Like spears or something? TM: Something like PP: Here, you can draw a picture. TM: It would be like, they'd be laying in the mud or swamp, and they get all kinds of leaves and the flower growing on top there. I don't know how to do that, the flower'd go on top there. And the leaves would be lots of little PP: Almost like Jacob's Ladder maybe. TM: And right on top would be that yellow thing come out and it's round. They're real long, they're long. You pull 'em out right on the end. PP: And which part do you eat? TM: The whole thing. Yeah, it's kind of round like, let's see, what would be -- like a big spaghetti, they're real big? And they look like a spaghetti but they're that long. And you just pull -- they're real easy. As you pull they come right off, you hear them snapping. And you wash 'em in the water, and you could boil it. It's really good eating. And those and the ciwasaqs, they're two different kinds there. That and the ciwasaq. Ciwasaq is like a spinach. And you could cook them also. Cook them in you could cook a whole pot and when you boil them they shrunk. And you cool 'em off. Take all the water out, and cut 'em up in nice small pieces, and you could mix the lard and sugar in it, and really __. And that other one, what I draw, you could just boil them and eat it just like a spinach.
PP: Do you like the wild celery? TM: The wild celery we get them too. But there're two different kinds. One with no -- big deal on the sides on them? Get one with that big kind of a ball on the ends. We pick them. They're the ones we eat. PP: Those should be coming out pretty soon. TM: Yeah, pretty soon. They're really good when they're fresh. When you peel them they come right off of the peel. PP: I understand if you wait too late you get blisters. Or if you don't peel 'em. TM: Later on they get too hard. They get long and they get -- get 'em when they're about halfway grown, they're best. PP: Did you ever hear of -- I don't know if they call them Indian potatoes or Eskimo potatoes? Mouse food or something? It's a root. And it's like little pieces of rice on the bottom. TM: I never heard of them. Only ones I know, they're these wild spinach and these ciwasaqs. I always pick them up. PP: You still do? TM: Last year, right by my cabin over here, there are a lot of 'em right by the beach, and I picked some and I boiled some. They were good. That wild spinach. PP: Next time I'll have to bring a flower book and identify TM: Maybe I'll, sometime I'll pick some out and dry 'em out PP: Oh, that'll be cool TM: And I'll save them for you, show what they look like. They're two different kinds, the ciwasaq also. That other one is a big leaf, that's all it is, big leaf. Pull that out one at a time. Then altogether they're different from these spinach again, this ciwasaq. Pick them up like one at a time, you know, they just pick them up. PP: Sounds almost like skunk cabbage. It's not skunk cabbage, no? Skunk cabbage? It's like a lily and it's got, inside the leaf it's got a white TM: I'll show you what these ciwasaq look like, I'll draw that. Ciwasaq would be something like that, PP: Oh, almost looks like a dandelion. TM: They grow up like that, but they come almost like that, tobacco-like, you know. It would be a big leaf. Long, you know.
TM: Then that -- another thing, too, she used to use that for medicine. I used to see her do that. Later she been doing that, Old Lady Gramma , I see her do that. Saw her late, some time, you know. She call it uyaleguaq.. PP: Say it again? TM: Uyaleguaq. And they're, the flower's only that big. PP: What color? TM: I think it's green. Very few -- you don't see 'em around no place. Very few places you'll find 'em. A whole bunch of 'em will grow right along trees, you know, they're green and they're shaped like Christmas trees. Like Christmas tree right here but they're small, pretty flower, they got -- like a regular flower, you know, leaves on 'em. And they're shaped like a Christmas tree. And they're only that big. Small. You see a lot of 'em. They dig 'em out, they dig 'em out by hand, you know. Them roots are about that long. And the big roots on them, maybe as big as my finger, maybe. And they're -- take them up and she'll take the flower out and put that in a jar with water. And later that water will turn dark. And maybe, four, five, six pieces in there, seven, eight pieces in there, and she'll just leave that for medicine. You could even smell it. Smell like the green. Smells really good. And also she used to use that in the steam bath also. PP: I was going to ask if you did steam baths. TM: Mm hm. You use that in the steam bath. You stove get really hot, just leave that right on top of the stove there. It'll dry up PP: Evaporates? TM: Evaporates, smells real good. That stuff is really -- we call it wi'allruq, yeah. The only ones I see she used for medicine, she used 'em in the steam bath also, made it smell really good. And also you could use it inside of the house also. She'll dry 'em up for maybe a week or two, maybe, right on top of the stove, you know, where it's nice and warm.
TM: It'll get really hard, like, then you would take a can, put it in a can, light the end, and that top will smoke. Really good smell to it. PP: Like an incense almost? TM: Like incense, like, a really good smell. You smell that -- you go into the house and you smell that green! PP: Nice! TM: You ought to try that some time, really good. Steam bath and in the house. That one in the house, she'd dry it for maybe one or two weeks. You never burn it, just smoke, like a cigarette. Really does smell good. PP: Did she have a samovar? TM: What's that? PP: A big brass, like a big tea thing, that you make tea in. I've seen them in Kodiak, I didn't know if they had them over here. They brew tea. It's got a little -- you put charcoal in the bottom, and then there's a big pot and there's water, it's very pretty. Gold-looking. Brass, big thing. And then at the very top you put the tea in. Anyway, I saw them in Kodiak and I didn't know if they used them here or not. TM: I never did see one, though. They might have had them but they never mentioned it. Yeah, that's only once I see a use for -- she even use them in her eyes. PP: The medicine? TM: Yeah, keep it in a jar, closed, and she'd have it all year round in water. There'd be water, it'd be just real dark. I like that smell, the one that's in the house, that smells, the one in the steam bath too. PP: Do you have a steam bath here? TM: Oh, yeah we got a steam bath. I'm gonna try -- I know how they look, I want to pick one, look for them some time down there, see if they still grow in that same spot down there. PP: By the village, Savonoski? TM: Yeah. See if I find any there. That's the only place where I seen them grow. I been looking around them, I never see them around. I don't know how she know about them, but she had made for them, and she'd dig some out. Some she'd dry, some she'd put in the water. PP: So she was -- she knew of medicine, sounds like. Was she a midwife? Did she help give birth? TM: Yeah, she helped womans. Yeah. PP: Well, as I said before, what I'll do is transcribe this. It's gonna be -- it'll turn out to be about 30 pages. And -- END OF TAPE