Mike and Dallia Andrew were interviewed on March 6, 1995 by Bill Schneider and Don Callaway in Igiugig, Alaska. In this first part of a two part interview, Mike and Dallia talk about their family backgrounds, their childhoods, and learning traditional skills and to speak English. They talk about the seasonal round of subsistence activities from trapping to hunting to fishing, which required quite a bit of seasonal movement, and employment opportunities with reindeer herding, working at a cannery, or commercial fishing. The also talk about gathering wood and the impact of wildfires on the environment. Finally, Mike discusses lack of local health care and the influenza epidemic.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Katmai National Park
Date of Interview: Mar 6, 1995
Narrator(s): Mike Andrew, Sr., Dallia Andrew
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Don Callaway
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Dallia's childhood memories of where her family traveled
Reasons for moving
Mike's childhood memories
Mike's first game brought home
Proximity of neighbors
Trading and trading posts
Trading with "winter men" at cannery
Fishing in Bristol Bay
House construction and heating
Wood gathering in the old days
Wood gathering, continued
Changes in wood gathering
Wood sources and tundra fires
Types of wood and fire
The impact of fires on animals
The impact of fires on trapping
What life was like for Mike when he was younger and unmarried
Fish and Game officers questioning Mike when he was younger and was trapping beaver with his mother
Things that Mike's mother taught him
Fish and Game officials checking up on people
How Mike learned English from friends
Practicing speaking English
Who influenced Mike as he was growing up
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
Bill: Okay, today is March 6, 1995. I'm Bill Schneider. Don Callaway's here, too. We're talking today with Dallia and Mike Andrew, here in Igiugig. And this is the first of the interviews we're doing on life histories, and talking about hunting, fishing, trapping through time. So let me ask you first of all to talk about what you remember when you were just little kids. Where were you camped and what was the life like of your parents as they were travelling around. Dallia, do you want to start? Dallia: Okay, I'll start when I was first, them days there was no school. They travel; they go out camp hunting, fishing. They hardly stay home. They travel pretty much, do hunting, fishing, berry-picking, hauling wood and all that stuff they need for the winter. Bill: Where were your parents living, that time? Dallia: My parents was living first up Kukaklek, but I remember they moved down when I was young, but I remember on this Kvichak is where I mostly growed up. Bill: How old were you when they moved down? Dallia: Gee I don't remember how old I was. I was small. Bill: Small girl. Dallia: Yeah. Mostly I growed up here Alagnak River, up the lake, Kokhanok. Move, they move around quite a bit them days.
Bill: Tell the people that listen to this why they moved around. What they were, what seasons they were travelling and following. Dallia: Like they're our relative, like our cousin or uncles, they marry to their sister or his brothers, we have to visit them for so long and return back. Them days they used to go by dogs. They never used to travel so much, maybe year after year go see your relative is how they growed up long time ago. Bill: Were they travelling long distances, or were those Dallia: Sometime they travel with the boat or if they don't go by the boat, they go by dogs.
Bill: Okay. Dallia: Yeah, my folks used to have reindeers long time ago, they stay up the Kukaklek, and then Nonvianuk, in Kukaklek watch their herds. When they're done, watching their herds, they came down here. They live down here a while, 'til they're older. Bill: Did they give up reindeer herding? Dallia: Yeah, they gave up the reindeer herders. They can't keep up, there's so many wolf was chasing, scattered 'em away, so they can't keep up with their reindeer herds.
Bill: Mike, would you tell us what you remember when you were just a small boy, of where your parents were and what they were doing out on the land. Mike: Like before I was born or after I was born? Bill: After you were born. And then we'll go back to before. Mike: So my folks, they were reindeer herders, too, up on the Big Mountain. We had reindeer herds up at the Big Mountain. But I don't remember what year they move, when they, they're losing their reindeer herders. Before, they used to travel, go down and back, cause there was reindeer. Sometimes he'd drive two, three, go down shopping what they make, go back to Big Mountain. And so many years after the reindeer is getting less so they quit using it. That's when they, while they're there, Big Mountain, we have an island. In the summer time the herd pretty much tame. They, when it's too warm, they go in the island, cool off where's the good wind. Get away from the sand flies down there. And stay out there, then towards evening they swim back to the camp in a big herd. But I don't remember what year they move from Big Mountain, they move down to Alagnak. That's when I was raised, down that born down that Alagnak River, 1935. And my father told me they had reindeer, but I don't remember. I was born after they moved to Alagnak from Big Mountain. Then that time when I get old enough to go to school, he told me if I wanted to go school. I said,"I'm too bashful to stay with someone." So that's why I didn't went to school. I had nobody to stay with, 'cause my folks stay on Alagnak River. They don't want to go over there, so I didn't went to school. And we lived down there a long time before we moved down, before 1935, when I was born, 1935, in Alagnak River.
Mike: Then when we was down there they set place and fish of fish and caribou, moose, beaver. In the winter time they have to survive with wild animal.That's when my folks, my mother, my mom taught me how to use this snare to catch a rabbit. And they first show me how to put snare out. So I learned. After year I'd go out there and do it myself. I was doing good. I caught a rabbit to eat, was really good.
Bill: Mike, tell me what, when you brought your first game home, what was that? Mike: Okay, my first game when I went out hunting, it was summer time. I went out with my skiff and the motor by myself. And I caught a salt water, why we call it fresh water seal. So I chase that seal 'til I caught it. And I shot it, take it home. So it was my first animal, that time. I was young boy then. So I caught it, first seal, wild. Then I took it home to mom. Then they see it and I call them down what I caught. They come down, they was all excited. It was my mom and my step-dad. Say, "What you caught?" Let them come down to boat, skiff, and see what I caught. Oh, they were going to come down. It was a seal, fresh-water seal. Then they take him up the bank. That time, when you get first animal, when you, when we are young, our folks won't eat it. They took that seal, the animal, we had burn fire, bon fire. Take it, burn his nose to the fire and bring him back. Why they do that? I always kind of feel sorry for that animal I caught, 'cause they never told me before. But that time, they told me. After you burn it, bring it back, say "Give us more luck next time." So that was something I didn't know, they told me that day. Then when we caught it, when they skin that first animal I caught, the seal, they won't let me eat it. They cut him up, cook it. They give it to everybody. Share with it, 'til that's next time, say I keep my second one if I catch next time. They just let the other people eat that seal. So they kind of serve it to all the families. So that's the way my folks, they train the young people. That's the way I was trained.
Bill: How old were you. Mike: Well. About 12 years old, I guess, when that first seal I caught. Boy I was happy. Bill: How about other kids when they got their first seal? Mike: Well, that time we hardly have anybody living close to us. 'Cause that time we stay separate, like we have a house like this, family. There's no other families. You gotta go about but seven, eight miles to go to next neighbor. Long time they live so far apart. Not in one place like this. So, I guess there's some boys. There were hardly boys around me that time. I was, they're all a long ways away from me. So the only thing I learned by my mom, so showed me how to hunt a while, so I was happy to learn.
Bill: Dallia, when your family moved over here, did, uh, take me through a typical year, what people did in fall time, what they did in winter, spring and summer when you were a little girl. Dallia: Summer time, when the fish come that's when they put up lot of fish. We have to split it, hang it and smoke it, put it away. When I first put out my fish, my first put up smoke fish, they give it away, too. Some older people, they let 'em eat. So I would be better next time I put up fish. 'Cause they told me that. So they say we taught her older people, they sent it out. Gave them away, most of it. Them days they put up lot of fish cause their dog team in winter time, they got to have lot of fish to feed. And us people, too. Bill: So that was summer time when you got your first fish. Dallia: Yeah, first fish, yeah. Then fall time they let us, they teach us how to, when we're small we didn't pay attention too much. They taught us to pick berries, help my folks, my mom, pick berries. They taught me how but I still want to, I was too small, I still want to play. You know how the kids want to play when they're small. They never pay attention, but they keep after me to do this and that.
Dallia: Then winter time comes. We hardly travel. Too cold. We, most of the time we gotta stay home, fire up the home. Cause them days we don't have oil. When the stove is out that house is cold. We have to stay home, steady fire it, 'til its get better weather like in spring, I guess. Bill: Was your family trapping? Dallia: Yeah, they trap. They trap lots. My dad used to trap lots. Just get, that we could get like food like flour, sugar, when he turned his fur to, when he sell them out and he bring home flour, sugar. Them days we don't have so much like this canned stuff. Bill: And was your house here at Igiugig, or in this area? Dallia: Our house was down below flats here. Winter time we stay down there for several years before we start moving around. When we put me to the school at Kokhanok, that's when we move up there for four years, I think, I only went to school for four years. I went to school at Kokhanok. So only went to fourth grade, as far as I went. And I quit after that. Bill: How did your parents trap from Kokhanok? Did they stay there or did they go back down? Dallia: No, they stayed there all winter. They was getting old. They hardly traps, them days. And it's one day over their trap lines.
Bill: And Mike, you were talking about trading. Where were the trading posts that time? Mike: Trading posts? Bill: Yeah, you said they went down to the bay to trade. Don: To get the caribou to sell. Mike: Oh, okay, okay, I got you. Well that time when we were reindeer herders, my folks they used to, when the holidays come, I guess they know their Christmas holidays for American, so they take one caribou, take 'em for stores, or winter man's. Trade them with the food like coffee and sugar, flour, tea. Give them the whole caribou if they trade with the warden and take that wild. That's the way they do long time ago, too. But they do that in the Christmas holidays, take wild for the cannery, have winter man. Then they want wild so they take 'em down there and winter man down there, stay in that cannery. They give 'em coffee, sugar, tea, little bit of everything what they need, matches. And if they have a rifle, give them shells. They couldn't go out and take the wild. Bill: So they would do the trading down at the bay, and who would they trade to? You were saying that there were canneries down there. Mike: Well there winterman long time ago, that down Bristol Bay here, they used to have someone come with a wild caribou or we always want to give them, they'd trade. And lot of times if you don't trade, they go down, show em their new fur what they caught in trapping season. Like a fox, beaver, otter, mink, lynx, coyote, anything. Wolverine, wolf. So what they make leave we don't make that trade they sell their fur. A lot of times they have some buyers come to the village. They, long time ago; we're not talking about the buyers, there was fur buyers. They come and buy that from the trappers. Some time two, two people or three people. They bid on it. Whoever got a better price and you gotta sell to them. Lowest guy don't get nothing. So that's the way long time ago, when they don't trade, we stay, fur buyers come to village, buy the fur. Was nice though when you didn't have go, people come and buy your fur, don't have to trade. That was nice.
Bill: And were you saying Mike that you used to go down at Christmas time? Mike: Uh huh. Some time long time ago they never do that certain, certain areas has to do that when they make that trade for wild. 'Cause when that winter man needs some wild meat or caribou, bring them down from the herd, you know, have to butcher 'em up, take 'em down and trade 'em with that food. Bill: And when you say "winter man," is that the guy that takes care of the cannery during the winter? Mike: Uh huh. You ever hear of a winter man before? On a cannery? Bill: I hadn't heard that expression. Caretaker, like. Mike: Winter man, he must like a supervising the camp. You have a somebody there. When somebody needs something, if you have it in the camp, cannery, you got to give 'em, either sell it and they buy it little bit whatever, what they offer. That's what we call "winter man" a long time ago. Sometimes not only food. Sometimes we go down for need fuel gas, maybe oil, motor oil. Even with everything, you know. So that's the winter man for long time ago. And we need food he sell you food from the store. He have a store year round. But we have to travel like 20, 30 miles to go shopping. Dog team.
Bill: Were your parents commercial fishing in summer time? Mike: Well, let's see,I could remember one time, one year, 1942, was last time when they work in the cannery. They never commercial, my folks. They work in the cannery. It was 1942 I could remember. I was pretty small boy then, but I remember. 1942 they worked from June, July, 'til August and come home late August. There was only one year that happen like that. And we come home by boat, inboard/outboard. At that time they were, they had a sailboat, them days, 1942. They have a sail. But my folks, they had a boat in it, by motor -- they don't sail, they used the motor to come home with. Back in 1942. Bill: Tell us how they came. Mike: Well, we come home after everything, when the cannery is closed. Everybody pack up, buy little bits what they need from the cannery for winter coming. And come home on the bay, come upriver and you go all day before you make it home. We start it morning, and all day you're driving the boat. That time, that boat was slow. Not like today. They were slow. I could remember they used to have Palmer 270s, 12 horsepower, that's all. They put in the fish boat when they come with that kind of motor. They had long time, I could remember. Bill: They'd come up the river here? Mike: Down Alagnak River, not this Kvichak. Down Alagnak River. That time we were living down there, in 1942. But I was raised down there 1935.
Bill: And Dallia, how about your parents. They were older. Did they work in the canneries, too, when you were young? Dallia: I don't remember if they worked down the canneries. Yeah, they fish. My old man fish long time ago, though, when I was smaller. He used to fish down the bay. But my mother, he don't go down the bay. He put up fish all summer. Bill: And where was she putting up fish? Dallia: Down below here, Kaskanak Flat they call that. Bill: Was your father commercial fishing? Dallia: Yeah, he was commercial fisherman for a long time. Bill: How did he get started on that? Dallia: After gave up that reindeer herders, when they first commercial fished on the bay, long time ago. They go join them, give up that reindeer herds. Bill: Did he buy a boat? Dallia: I don 't remember if he bought a boat. He mighta had a boat on the bay, though. Oh, they used to had no set, set, they set net them days with little skiff, not with a big boat. They set net. They took their set net. Long time ago they travel with their set net. They move it where the fish are. Not stay in one place like now days. They move it around. They took 'em where there's more fish, they could catch more fish.
Bill: And do you know where he sold those fish? Dallia: Used to be Libby's down Bristol Bay, Libby, I think they call it Libby's cariann or Libbyville. That's where he set nets, I guess, he told me. Bill: But your mom was up here on the flats fishing, huh? Dallia: Yeah. She stay home, she don't go down the bay. She stay home, hustle for winter supply of fish, put up fish. Bill: How many kids did she have to take care of? Dallia: In our family was big family. I think we was that 13 in the family. We are the one the only one left--three now. Bill: So she had to take care of all those kids and fish, too? Dallia: No, I think he's, I don't remembering his first husband, because he got married twice, my mom. First husband I don't know how many she had, then, in our family we had, I don't know, ten maybe. Bill: That's still lots. Dallia: Yeah, right. Them days was lot of kids. Bill: And did the kids have to help. Dallia: Yeah, we helped them out there, when we, the guys first growed up they help out. Like my sister, Mary, she help her, too. Bill: And then would your father come back in the fall time? Dallia: Yeah, he'd come back after fishing. Then he'd start hustle, too, hunting like moose, bear, beaver, anything for the winter. break
Bill: So what type of house did you have down on the flats down there? Dallia: We had wooden house, like they build up, with lumber, no plywood them days. No insulation. So they just build it up with the lumber. Bill: Milled lumber? Dallia: Yeah. Two by four lumber outside. There's lumber inside, too, no hardly insulated. There wasn't no big house. They were smaller than this house. Small, they make it small. Better to heat up the house for winter. Them days they don't have big houses like nowdays. Bill: How far did people have to go to get wood in the old days? Dallia: They get wood where they could find dry wood for start up in the morning, so they could feel, get hot faster. Then after they start them wood then they put birch, make it more heat. They burn them birch wood. Trees, them regular trees, those green trees, they hardly got heat. So they have to cut birch wood more. Draw more heat when they burn it.
Bill: Do you remember wood gathering in the old days Mike, when you were young? A young boy? Tell us about how you used to gather wood in your family. Mike: Well, when we pick up wood from along the beach, first, like in before winter come, we walk along the beach, pick up wood. Lot of time you gotta, you have a pack, pack the wood, pile them up. Sometime you put them in a gunny sack. You get so much, take it home, go back again. And if it's kinda long ways away, then you go in the, like in skiff. And you go up, you cross rivers, ferry it down, pull it upriver where you can load up the skiff with birch. Anything you could find dry you could burn birch, dry wood, alder, beach wood. Fill the skiff full. Full, a load. Then you come back, then you go out again. If you find lots of wood. Everybody gets together, help one another. Work on load up the boat. When the boat come, everybody work, unload that boat. Everybody pack. That's the way we used to get, a long time. End of Side A
Side B Bill: Women used to carry wood, too. Dallia: Women carry wood on their back. They tied a string. Dry, dry wood, to start up their smokehouse so they could start before they put that wet wood, so they could start it fast. They carry it back and forth, I don't know how many trips so they put it away so the rain wouldn't get it, too. They put it away where they could be dry after they scatter some dried wood, little sticks, not big heavy woods. They just pack light, light woods, so they could start up their fire or smokehouse. That's how they used to pack. Even my blind grandma here used to help them pack wood. She want to go out. She used to do it long time ago. We help her pile each wood and let 'em pack. We carry her, cause she don't see. She want to pack like long time ago. She don't want to forget, she say. laughs So we used to help her. They still do packing wood, up Kokhanok, I think, them ladies. But nowdays we got skiff. Everything we get, haul them in the skiff faster nowdays, and we hardly pack. But them days they used to pack it. Bill: How far would people have to go when you were a little girl? Dallia: Not so, not so far. They find some little, little sticks out in the, out in the trees where they dry. They bust it and they don't have to chop it, they just bust it and gather them up enough to pack. That's how they used to work, them ladies.
Bill: How has wood changed, now? Is there more wood, less wood, dry wood? Dallia: Same. Mike: Wood never change, but you have to go further out. You have to go further. Like when you asked Dallia how far you have to get it a long time ago. Sometimes you go five miles when you have to pack it. But nowdays you go more than five miles. Sometimes you go eight or ten miles to get the good dry wood. Cause we have four-wheeler, snowmachine, dog-team long time ago you could pull it back when it's everything is frozen. Even ice, you can pull it back for fire wood. Bill: Explain to us how, how that dry wood's made. As I fly over here, I see patches of wood. Was that always like that, or has that changed? Mike: Dry wood? Well, the dry wood sometimes when it's summer time, even the green wood, when it's warm they dry up and take a color. They turn kind of whitish; it's like a gray color. That's when we call good wood "dry wood." Even the spruce tree, when the summer time, they dry up. And they turn white. Someplace the tundra's like that, where it's all the good wood. That's where you get them, kinda greyish, whitish color. Like a gray. That's the good wood. Bill: You're talking about good, dry wood? Dallia: This dry wood here that we had, I don't remember, I was too small. Long time ago they had burn fire in the tundra, that's the one for good dry wood, kinda greenish colored, they got burned little bit. That's what we call the good, dry wood. It's when forest was fired long time ago. They burn the tundra.
Bill: Mike do you want to add to that. Mike: She went pretty fast there. Like the tundra fire, and sometime we have tundra fire. And that green wood from the fire get heated then it dry then. Even the limbs dry; you can use the limb to start the fire with. Before, when the fire tundra, from the spruce trees are green. When they get hot they dry, turn grey. And you could pick it by hand, start a fire with it. We call it limb from the tree, that's what long time ago we used to pile it, too. Just to keep it dry. We start a fire. When they wet, they wouldn't burn. They gotta be dry. Bill: Were there lots of fires that came through here, or can you remember particularly? Mike: Well, once a while we have fire, but not too many, though. Once in a while we have, but long time ago they had fire. I wasn't born yet, they, my folks told me, back in, I don't know, twenties I guess. I wasn't born yet. I don't remember. That time when they have tundra fire, one day my folks told me, the fire, like a spark, they jump across the river and they start another fire. That's the way the fire go long time ago when they had tundra fire. They jump, the spark, tundra. Dallia: Them days was no fire fighters, they just let it burn, the tundra, was how come we got some more dry wood from them days. Dry wood yet, that's what we call them good dry wood. Tundra fire dry wood. Bill: Boy, that's really interesting.
Mike: Is that off? Bill: No. Should I turn it off? Mike: No no no. ? Maybe tomorrow, do you want to take some pictures what I got in mind? If you can take pictures, I'm gonna have two different kind of wood in my hand. That shows what's is better to burn and what's slower burn. Bill: Good. Mike: I was thinking in my mind tonight, maybe tomorrow I'll bring that, cause we have several wood out here. They're all not same. I wanna bring it so that the young people, they could see, too. And later on, they think about it, what kind of wood they could burn to start with. So we got all kinds of wood here. Bill: Let's do that. Bill: That big fire, before you were born, that jumped over the river. What did the old timers say about that? Mike: Well, that time, my folks, my older brother he was around then, that's before I was, I was little baby, I guess. He see the fire from the camp. The fire was travelling other side river. And what he do. Some spark fly over other side the river. Start a fire. So what happened, the older brothers was living in the camp and they go shut it off before it got big, but other fire was already big, couldn't stop it. Bill: So he set fire, so that it wouldn't spread? Mike: Yeah, close to their camp, you know. We don't want to burn their home, cause they had my brother and then me, with cousin, whoever start the up and shut 'em off, so they won't destroy the home. If you don't, it'll burn the place down, you know. So they had to save the camp. Dallia: Them days they used them wool blanket, they soak 'em up in the water. Flap it on the fire. That's a good fire shut off, that old wool blanket. Them, long time ago they had them, they're wool blanket. They soak that up. Every time they dry, they soak 'em in the waters, keep flopping it on the tundra. So when fire, shut off the fire with it.
Bill: How did that affect the animals in this area? Mike: Well I guess that time, animals, them animal when they have a fire in tundra, they travel. Where there's no fire they move, move away. That's the way most animals survive. Any kind of animal that got away from the fire, travel where's no fire. Bill: Did the fire help certain animals, in terms of vegetation that came back? Mike: Well, I guess that time the animals have to move, I guess some might get burned, but what, we can't, really but some of them, they move away. But some of them they get caught if they can't move, we lost animal in the fire. And other times I guess they, they go where there's no fire, they travel.
Bill: That must have made it hard on people trapping, though. Mike: Yeah, they say that time my brother and my mom, there was a big fire that time before I was probably little baby, I guess. But I don't remember. It was no fun. The whole area, this area, this to towards Bristol Bay. The whole area burned. Even back here behind the village at Igiugig, there used to be lot of trees here where we got that airstrip, now, in them days. You'd get lost in that timber, so many timber, green timber, before the fire. And after fire, now different. It's all flat; it burned down. That's what they told us, "Long time used to be a lot of timber." And when you pick berries, you have to mark before you go in the trees, you take a moss, put 'em in the trees and when you come back you'd never get lost. You use that dry moss in the tundra. Put it in the trees; you make a mark. After you pick berries, too many trees, you have to follow your marks out, back home. If we don't have those moss as the mark, you're lost back there in the trees. The people put in case the young people could understand the way it was long time ago, you know. Like here, we try to make it right to you, what we did a long time ago. Bill: That's very ... Mike: Like before they have nowdays they have a compass, don't get lost. But in my day, I could remember to use moss from that tundra, put it in the tree--that's your mark.
Bill: Let's back up a second and tell us about your mom and her first husband and second husband and your brothers and sisters. Dallia: Yeah, my mama's first husband, his name was Martin Sakar that's what he's first married to. Then my, my dad is second husband, his name is Alex Gregory. He was a reader in the church, so he was pretty good dad. It was an orthodox church. So he was a reader. And my brother, Mike, then my brother Alek, then my sister, her name was Elena. I don't remember that, but I remember my brother, Mike, then my brother Alek, I don't remember him. He died when I was small, I think. So right now, my sister, living one, is Mary, and my brother, living one, is Harsheni they call him, or Harsheni Kalpik Gregory. He lives up Kokhanok. break Bill: OK Dallia: Yeah, right now we're three of us living now from that family, big family we had. Three of us left now from that family. Bill: And your first father you said was a, your mother's first husband was a reindeer herder? Dallia: No, my dad was reindeer herder. I don't know my first, I don't remember his first husband. I don't know him that much. Only my dad was reindeer herder Kukaklek before they come down this way.
Bill: And Mike, tell us about your parents and brothers and sisters, their names. Mike: Well, we are big family, too. We're 15 in the family, in my family by mom. ? My mom was married three time, my mother. And old one I don't remember, but I remember my dad little bit. And the third one I remember. My dad was named Alex, and before first husband mom, I don't remember. I wasn't born yet, 'til we get second, to my dad. And after my dad's gone, she married to Pete, he called Pete Sooka. Is gone, too. They're both gone. So right now we are three of us family out of 15, like my sister Mary, my brother Wassillie Andrew, and me, Mike Andrew, Senior. Out of 15, that's only three left. That time we have no, hardly health aides and hardly doctors around when they get sick. We just can't try to save him sometime. They get sick, they're gone. Slow, most long time. We just have big flu. I guess it's no fun, I guess it can happen. So out of that big family, only three of us survive right now. I'm supposed to be, I'm the baby in the family. Bill: You said the big flu? Mike: Uh huh. Long time but most of the older people, they got sick. Some time they lose their hearing, gone. But I was little that time, I guess.
Bill: You remember lots of sickness, too? Dallia: Yeah, I remember that sickness, too. That winter they let them know, they write them a letter, them older people. They tell them, they tell them not to go down to the bay when them ships come in from outside. That's the time they bring the flu up. So they never listen. They go down. That's when they got the big flu, most of em. Died away. The guys would stay out in the, out of village, out in the, they never go down the bay, they stay home, there. They're the one was survive from that sick. That was big flu that year, I guess. That's when it's, everybody was sick. Big family died out. Bill: Do you remember your brothers and sisters dying as you were growing up? Dallia: No, I don't remember them. I was too small to remember. But they told us after, though, about it, big flu. If they listen, "Don't go down the bay," they would probably be more older people up here. But them days, they were just want to go down to the bay. That's when it happens.
Bill: And Mike, when you were a teenager, a young man, just before you got married, take us through what a year was like when you were a young man, before you met Dallia and got married. Mike: Okay. That time, when I was young, when I was ten years old I could remember I travel with my mom. My mother teach me how to trap beaver, trap otter. We have a dog team. I carried my mom. That's when they teach me how to trap wild. End of the year, we'd go out. I'd be with my mom, help her, show me how to trap beaver, fox and otter and ? . But one time we were trapping beaver, and beaver season was open. I could remember. I was ten years old. I just learning how to speak English. But we were trapping beaver. We had a Fish and Game come over, what it was 1940, something, 44 or 45. I was only ten years old, I guess, that time. Even the beaver season was open. To try to stop it. But mom know. They told me that time we used to have a two month beaver season, from February 1 to March 31.
Mike: We were still, we, that time, when first Fish and Game I see that Alagnak River. And I didn't know what Fish and Game. But I talked with him for three, four hours. Then he try to check on the sled what we had, you know. See what we caught. I tell him, we didn't caught anything. I tell him, if we caught something, we'll show you what we caught. Right now we are trapping beaver cause we eat the beaver meat in winter time and we sell the skin. Try to make ? sell it to buyers, you know. Long time ago. And, well, I don't know why, why he was really after he, he probably he was understand me, maybe he wasn't understand, I don't know. But my mom didn't talk English, but I was doing the talking with this guy, here. There was two people. Then we talked from, must be afternoon to almost sundown, how long we talk. Five, six hours. And I didn't give up. 'Cause we had no problem. We try to get, 'Cause season was open. Then he give up on me. I didn't give up, I was still, we never eat, we were just talking five or six hours. But I didn't even understand that, but I told him right. We try to get some to survive ? that time. We never got no beaver. They fly in and land and there by ourself, cause we are, season was open. Well, we made it, it was okay. Didn't bother us after.
Bill: So your mom taught you a lot. Mike: Yeah. That time. We started trapping, show me how to fish. That time we used to go ice fishing, too. We'd chop a hole sometime three feet of ice we'd chop a hole there. You could fish trout or pike or grayling. When we could catch it. When we catch it, take it home, cut 'em up, save it. If we get a day we go fishing when we're not on trapline. Mom teach me lot of things, I learn from my mom. So right today, I still aware it. I'm glad I learned by my mom. Beside, I'll teach my family how I used to teach when I was grow up, so they eat those same. Bill: Did your boys know your mom? Mike: Uh huh. They remember, right there is a picture, we got a picture me being there, their gram. They remember. Them boys I got, they remember their gramma. They used to be with their grandma when that youngest one, he wasn't even what, five years old, maybe. Three or four years old, they used to be with their grandma. And their grandma told them what they teach me. They'll remember their grandma, my sons. And Chuck and Mike and those guys. They pretty much kept listen to their grandma, too. They teach me, told them how we, I grow up and how to survive and how to hunt.
Bill: So the Fish and Game didn't bother you after that, after that time? Mike: Yeah, but he didn't bother us after that. But they never, I don't know why he come to check on us. Everything was open that time, it was middle of the season, we still have month to go yet. So, it was okay, but it's when I, let me speak little bit, I guess. But, speak English a little bit, but I still remember, right today, I try to speak English, you know, but I guess I did okay.
Bill: Where were you learning that English? Mike: Well, long time ago, when I was like ten years old, five years old on, I used to have boys my age that speak English. From different villages they come. 'Cause they know, their folks they know they're because they know each other from long time, they bring their kids to us, let us be friends. Then we start talking. That's when I pick up the English from them. That time I can't speak English. I couldn't even say a "cup," anything. So little by little, most of the time I have friends come from other place, speak English. That's when I pick it up. Every year, pretty soon I'll learn, takes time, but I learn. So, most of the time I had people come see me, play with me. Sometimes he tell me, "Get this" and "Do that." I don't understand. Then sometime he'd take me, and I'd say, "Okay, I remember." And that's how I catch on. Sometime if I don't understand it, they say, "that one," they said, "that's a, that's the name." That's what I pick up. From that time, I learned. Different villages people come and talk to me in English. So I learn from them.
Bill: How do you think you, who made you so strong? Mike: What do you mean? Bill: Who gave you your strength to be able to stand up to people for what you believe in? Mike: Well, when you've got a memory, you've got to put everything through your head, and try to go, what you learn, you know. Keep on slow by slow. And next time they come, I understand more all the time. When I was grow up, I had, most of the time I had white kids play with me all the time. But I didn't speak English. That's when I pick up words from them. How to speak English. All the time I had, somebody's mother was always speaking English with me and I don't understand. Pretty soon I was catching on good, I guess. I could speak like them. I learned. But I didn't went to school, and I didn't want no kind of grade. I learned everything see and hearing. That's the way I learned.
Bill: What I was asking about was how in your life you've had to stand up to people sometimes, and you've had to make difficult decisions. Who has influenced you, of your parents or grandparents, have they played a role in training you to be that way? Mike: Well my mom trained me. Like how they trained me, like hunting caribou or trapping, some thing. Sometime they talk to me in the evening, how to go, so I talk with people, learn from them. And help them, if they don't understand, help them. I make them understand. Then they pick it up from me, too, most of the time. Like I don't speak English; I learn from them, and I teach them, too, my style. That's the way we stand up, we understand, help out one another. Even from some body's from other place, we teach one another. That's the way we start to learn like that. We stand up like that. End of Side B