Mike and Dallia Andrew were interviewed on March 8, 1995 by Bill Schneider and Don Callaway in Igiugig, Alaska. In this interview, Mike and Dallia talk about following the traditional beliefs about the proper way to hunt, fish and trap and to treat the animals with respect. They discuss ice fishing and hunting bears and moose. They also talk about how their community has changed,and the importance of teaching the youth about the past by telling them about starvation times and helping them learn subsistence skills and traditional behaviors.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Katmai National Park
Date of Interview: Mar 8, 1995
Narrator(s): Mike Andrew, Sr., Dallia Andrew
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Don Callaway
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Introduction to the discussion
Proper treatment of the land and animals
Not wasting food
When to select animals to hunt
When to select animals to hunt (continued)
When to select animals to hunt (continued)
Hunting bears, bear behavior, and animal numbers
Changing bear behaviors
Fishing catch and release
Teaching the young generation
Teaching subsistence skills
Starvation times (continued)
Starvation times (continued)
Fishing under the ice
Fishing under ice (continued)
Number of boats on the river
Advice for young people
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Side A Bill: Okay, today is March 8, 1995, and Don Callaway is here, I'm Bill Schneider, and we're gonna be working again today with Mike and Dallia Andrew. And we're here in their house. And last time when we talked, you mentioned it was important for us to record a little bit about Native laws relating to animals. And the land, and how people are supposed to treat the land and the animals. And so let's start with that tonight.
Dallia: Okay, in our Native law, is not written in this Fish and Game law. Long time ago, they tell us not to hunt when this mating time, like fall time, is when they quit killing, quit hunting. 'Cause they're, let 'em populate for next young to, caribou, moose. Every animal, let 'em populate. Bill: Not to hunt during breeding time? Dallia: Yeah, not to hunt. 'Cause they're, let 'em young babies, let 'em growed up. Even the spring time we hunt ducks before they have these chicks. When they start having chicks, we start, we quit picking it. Let it populate for next, next coming year. Bill: And so how does that work with different animals, like when do beaver have their young? Mike: In June. Bill: In June? And does that law apply to them, too? Dallia: Any, any animal we don't hunt them during the ... break. Bill: Okay. Mike, do you want to add something to that? Mike: Like, during the spring, we hunt for these, they have young animals before they start mating time, then we gonna, when they gonna have small animals, the mating time gonna be, we quit picking eggs and hunting, we stop. And in the spring time, early, like early May, before June, sometime in June, pick eggs. Then if they're have eggs, it's gonna start laying eggs, then we quit. That's the Native law tells us to quit, don't pick and let them populate. Same thing with the animal. When they gonna start having young ones in early spring, coming in June, we quit hunting them 'til this coming late fall, after, when the young animals, you know, start, let them grow first and them we start hunting after. 'Cause we don't hunt those when they're, in early spring and summer we let them populate. We don't hunt them 'til late fall.
Bill: How about fish? Mike: Fish are, we hunt them in spring. But we hunt freshwater first, like white fish and pike. We hunt them before the salmon run. But when we hunt pike and white fish, we hunt early May. And some time first week in June, just before salmon run, we quit. And there's white fish and pike, they move out some place and salmon will move in. Then we work with those salmon June and July. Dallia: 'Til August. Mike: Then August, we fish from, we fish Silver, we call 'em "late," late fall fish, you know. From June, July, August, the late is September, we get our fall fish, and we let the weather dry it. We don't smoke it, even. While it dries we spread them up, hang it. Bill: Mmm.
Bill: When you were talking about Native laws, are there ways that you can tell when you come on a beaver house whether you should stop trapping beaver, that they're getting too few? Mike: Well, long time ago, we don't hunt them beaver like early spring. Only time we hunt them, in the winter time, really in the winter time, like when the season's open like February and March, long time ago. But before that if we need to eat, then we take it one, before February, maybe one or two. We could cut 'em up and, like a family when we're short of food, then we go and get what we need. And we don't go out when we got something to go by, and when we're short, we go and try to get something for survive, the family could eat. Bill: Some trappers have told me that on their trapline that they know how many beaver are in each of the houses. And when they start taking too many, they stop. And I didn't know if that was true in this area. Mike: Well, it's pretty hard. You can't really know, family beaver, we do not know, even I'm a trapper, I start trapping when I was young, we don't know how many beaver have family. It might be three, it might be five. Some time, it's pretty hard to say we know that much, but we don't know how much the beaver populate. In the one family, beaver family. Lot of times, the beavers have two families, you know, like older, younger beaver. It's, I don't know, really, how many things are, but. I don't know, but I trap a long time, but that's one thing I don't know. But the beaver family sometimes lesser, sometime is more. So that's really hard. But we can't say, "I know how much beaver." No, I don't know. That beaver family, we don't know how much is in there. 'Cause we're not looking at 'em. They're in the beaver lodge. We don't know how much in there. That's really hard for me, but I been trapping, but, I, I'm not, I, how much beaver is in there. Might be three or four or five, some time. When there's a lot of big ones, mediums, then there's, might be two families. Older ones and younger beavers. And there might be eight or ten in one lodge. Some time is not that many. Might be four or five or something like that. So it's pretty hard, no, we don't know how much in the beaver lodge 'cause we can't, we not looking at them. They're in the beaver lodge inside the ground. That's one thing I don't know. But I know we see beaver in there, but we don't know how many's in there. 'Cause all trapper, I started young, and I never, never learn how much beaver in the lodge. Is one thing. But we know there's beaver in there.
Don: Would elders talk to you about how not to waste food and how that would be disrespectful, can you talk to us about that? Mike: Okay, when we're talking about food and the beaver, whether we caught in the trapline or hunting, we don't waste. We try to take any much we can use out of the animal. We don't throw nothing away. What we eat, you want, try to take it home. Any, anything of what animal we caught. What we don't eat, then we don't pick it, we just put it some place, either put it in the trees, you know, away from the flat. But even you put it in trees, 'cause the birds and anything will come and pick on 'em and clean 'em up, what we left, like from the animal. Gut, we don't eat gut, you know, inside. That's the part that we don't eat. We leave it. But outside that, we take everything, even the skin sometime, and take it home and use them for rug. Use them for mattress. Dry it, let weather dry it.
Bill: How can you tell when a caribou or moose are really healthy, really good to be taken? Dallia: We get it like in August 'til September, that's when they start rut. Then we won't take it 'til almost November, December. Mike: End of October sometimes. Dallia: End of October, just them caribou. Bill: After they've come out of rut. Dallia: Yeah. After they over. That's when we start getting it. But the beaver and some other little small games, oh, we wait 'til winter come, some times. Summer time they're not taste as good as winter. 'Cause they are thinner, thinner fat on them. They work so much with their young ones. Then beaver we could dry it, too, outdoors. Dry it like dry meat. And you put it away. Bill: In winter time. Dallia: Yeah. And any dried meat is good, they're not spoiled, 'cause they're half dried like dried fish. Bill: But you're saying that you don't dry them in summer time. Dallia: Yeah, we don't hardly get 'em summer time, 'cause they're not taste as good as the winter comes. 'Cause they eat something, maybe they ate fresh grass or something. They're not taste like in winter we got.
Don: How about bear, when do you take bear? Spring? Dallia: No, we like it spring time, 'cause fall time they're fish, they eat so much fish they taste like a fish. Like a fish duck. Same thing. We like it during the spring when they first come out of den. That's when they're not tasting fish, taste good. Mike: Let me add on to some on the bear. Okay, long time ago, we don't ever hunt 'em in summer, late fall. Sometime we hunt 'em in April. After, not, some time, one week after they come out of dens. And the bear is sure clean. They're not fishy. 'Cause early summer, like June, July, August, we don't hunt them bears, 'cause they're fishy. They been eating fish all the time. We like it after they go in the den, and gonna come spring or April when they come out of den. That's when they're, they're nice and clean. Not feeding all kinds of fish and stuff like that. They're clean. There's not even smell. The meat is clean. That the way we like it. Dallia: We like 'em late in fall, too, like October. They're not too bad when they start eating berries. They're hardly fish taste to it.
Bill: And what about caribou? Dallia: Caribou is, we mostly get it like, we don't hardly hunt games in summer time, 'cause then too hot, is easy to spoil. Don: Can caribou be disturbed by airplanes? Do caribou follow leaders and can the leaders be disturbed? Dallia: Yeah, caribou's got leaders, yeah. Mike: Okay, you talking about a caribou, or about the herd. Okay, another herd, gotta be like three, four hundred in a herd. Sometimes more, find one that, they have a leaders, and a second leader. Out of the big herd, after they feeding in the flat and eating moss and whatever. And the leader start move first, and the second leader. Then the, the pack is follow, which way the leader and the second go, the river, water, what it gonna be, just never stop, just follow the leader. For, one of them leaders travelling, well they go by that. Then a lot time they, two leaders not there all the time. Sometimes they lose the leader and the second leader. When they lose the leader, first and second, they're kind of lost, you know, wind around. Don't know which way they're going, they're all mixed together. One go, there's, there a bunch follow him. And he stop. And they will go, each other follow the other, 'til I don't know how long that, that go, though, I don't know. And so keep on do that 'til they find a leader, then they follow it. Then they start picking up again. Don: Do you avoid shooting the leaders? Mike: Well, sometimes, when we get chance, in, in the pack, what's in the front leader, second leader, we take it that front, front leader, if we lucky we shot it. And when it drop and second one, try to follow the second one. And if it's not too far, if we took, when it's close to us, we try to get the two leaders. Then the pack with stop, then they're winding around. Then we watch 'em, which one go. They're just back and forth. Take long time, then they start goin', follow one. They make new leader that way.
Don: How about the moose. Do you notice that the moose circle back, in face of a wind, to see if somebody's following them? Have you noticed that? Mike: Well nowdays they don't go like a long time ago. A long time ago if the moose, if he's, the person's here, that's probably north side, the moose will be on the east side. If the little wind blow towards the moose, moose will run away, 'cause he smell the people from that wind, you know, long time ago. Any animal will run away. break Don: Okay. Mike: Okay, we're talking about moose when it's north from us, it'd be on the east side of the people, just have little wind he blow our smell towards the moose. When the moose smell our people, they run away.
Mike: Same thing with the bear a long time ago. You could be two, three miles away, and they could smell you. They take, they took off, too. Long time ago, even kayak, we used to hunt. The paddle, you put it in the water, you left it. And it drip on the ground, they smell that, too, the bear. Then they took off. And because of people been holding on it. For the wild, I guess they know Dallia: They were really wild, them days, I guess. Bill: Bear? Dallia: Bears, especially the bears, yeah. But now days, they don't took off. They stay. Even it's when row towards them. It's a lot different from long time ago, them bears. Mike: And nowdays, they're not like long time. They, they're brave. It's 'cause of they're so many, and even moose and caribou and bear. Long time ago, they really shy with people. Little noise, even they don't see you, if they hear 'em make noise, they run away too, so far, wouldn't near us. Can't get close to animal long time ago. Any little noise they run away. Right today the animal is changing, too. They're not wild no more like long time ago. And it's, lot of time if they hear something, they gotta come forward and try to see what's making the noise. I see several times like that now, after, from long time. That, that's changing, too. It's 'cause there's lot of animal, now. Not like long time.
Dallia: They're dangerous now, them bears. They even come through the village now days. They're not scared to eat up our fish hanging, fish rack. Don't want to go away for, keep on, keep on coming to the village. Bill: But you're saying in the old days that wasn't ... Dallia: That wasn't like that, old days. Then now days, too, them bears get after them calves, too, moose calf. The moose calf, they're not fast as a caribou calf. They're slow. They don't run fast. They, when the bear chase the moose mother, but moose mother be mad, but he can't fight that bear. Pretty soon he lost his calf. Like if he have two, three, he let it just get one away with one. They fight them, young calves. 'Cause we see some long time too, little hoof, hoof of little moose. When the bear was fight, on the ground. Little piece of hoof of little moose.
Bill: Let's talk a little bit about sport fishermen and some of the issues there. Dallia: Sport fishermen? Yeah, sometimes sport fishermen they get trout, whatever, they let go. They wouldn't die right away, but later on it'll die. And some time we catch 'em, they're skinny, still, mouth still got cut from the hook or whatever they did with the fish. Bill: And how many sport fishermen are there in this area? Dallia: There's a lot of sport fishermen, all over this river and Alagnak River. Some time you have hard time to go by so many, the lines. We don't wanna hit our prop in the shallow water. They tell us to not a go that way, but we know the channel. Even they tell us we run over their line, our prop's more expensive than, so we just run 'em over their line. Especially when they're out boat fishing. There's a lot of them down Alagnak River. But up here's where we're, it's wide, we don't run 'em over.
Don: Mike, did you want to talk about catch and release? Mike: Okay, lot of times, not first time, where I go and what I see the sport fishermen fish, they keep the bigger fish. When they come towards, they think they're small, they wouldn't keep it. They release it. They got hook in the mouth, then take a pliers. Even the fish and the human, we have a feeling. When we cut something a little bit, we suffer. We pretty much understand that, I guess. Everybody. When we cut, make a sliver, that burn and that hurt. I got same thing with the fish animal. When you get the hook and take a pliers, then you yank that hook off the poor fish mouth, you rip his mouth. Then they go. Later on they get infected and they die from that, you know, damage in the mouth. 'Cause a lot of times that fish can't eat, 'cause the mouth is damaged from the hook.
Don: Did your elders ever talk about animals communicating how they were treated to other, to, to the others of their same kind? Mike: You ask me about the fish and how they went and kind of hurt from, like from the people, or? Don: Yeah. Mike: Anything. 'Cause us people around here, Yupik people, we raised around here, when we see the fish is, is hurt, got, not travelling and they want to, you know, lay over. We think it suffered. Lot of times we go off to the fish, fish net, move him , better to get, take it, it's better to, than being suffered. And when we do that, we'll take it. We don't have to eat it. If we want to, we let dogs eat it when we cut him up and hang it. So when we see fish suffered, we go out to, kind of layed around, he's gonna die and waste. We don't do that. We get 'em. That's the way. I think I answer your question.
Bill: Maybe we should think about the future and ask you what are your hopes for your boys and your grandchildren, in terms of uh, living out on the land? Mike: Well we treat them like we was treat when we were young. Same, no changes. And Yupik way. We treat our, like we was, when I got treated when I was young. And our boys and our grandchildren come, we treat 'em same thing. We teach 'em what we teach from our elders. That's all, the family go like that. We treat 'em even the grandchildren, we treat 'em same. We're always telling 'em what's gotta come, sometime. We treat 'em what we learn from our, our elders like our folks. We treat 'em same.
Bill: Okay. The question was, um, when you think about your boys and you think about grandchildren, and you think about the land and the animals. And you think about job opportunties for your kids, ah, what, what do you hope they'll be able to do? Dallia: Yeah, I got hope, when there's no more hardly jobs like now days, everything new dropping now, maybe some days we have no job, we'll see how the thing's going. Maybe some days we have short of food, see how these young gene-, young guys gonna handle this kind of short of food. Bill: Does that worry you? Dallia: Yeah, it's kind of worry, it's, 'cause ah, one, one old lady, when he talk about starvation, he wanna die before that starvation comes. 'Cause he don't wanta use 'em again. So he's gone now before he reach starvation. Bill: She died. Dallia: Yep. So that must be pretty hard. Hard to fight starvation. It might come, some days. We, them elders told us, more of it.
Bill: Do you think it will come? Mike: Well, we beens told by our folks, our mom, they come once but they tell us they gonna come again some time but we don't know when. But when our folks told us, when starvation come once, we gonna come again. We gonna have lots of everything, a lot of fish coming back in the water, fresh water fish, anything's gonna be more than they usually do. Then the starvation gonna come year after, something like that, and next year after, that fish get lesser. He changing with the animal, wild animal. Every year they going down. Maybe three years' time, you have hard time get fish, hard time to go get some wild. That's the way they told us when starvation come. All the wild fish gotta, gotta go down. Even you hunt, we, lot of times you go all day, you not getting nothing. You don't see no kind of animal. That's what we, we told us like that, our folks, our mom. When the starvation gonna come. Everything is gonna go down. All the fish and wild. And if he come, we not gonna have anything like that on table. They told us, if the starvation come, flower, they tell us a flower, flower would, is grow out of the ground, like this thing we always raise in the house. Said ?that's when we'll eat ground. When the starvation come. 'Cause they grow from the ground. Like a plant. You get a sack, starvation coming, you'll want, it'll be nothing but the ground. You can eat that. That's what they told us, everything is gonna be changed when starvation come. That's, we won't be happy. We have no friend, even that's no one but yourself. Said, there's no happiness when the starvation come. That's what our folks, mom told us. But they told us when everything is gone, but the fish and this ling cod that eat the ground. And that, we call it suckers, they're small like white fish, and ling cod's a little bigger. And them little black fish. That eat the ground. That's what we gonna have when the starvation come. And they told us to spot, know where to get 'em when the time come. 'Cause we don't know when it's gonna happen, but we know they gonna come some time.
Bill: And your parents experienced some of that starvation, didn't they? Dallia: Yeah, our parents, too. My mom and his mom, he told me, even the fish, especially this dry fish, she tell me to, "Don't lay it around, don't step on it." Any fish you, salmon, especially, tell me to pick it, put it away. Or eat it. If you can't eat it, the fish on the ground, throw it back in the water. That's important. Then his mom told me about this, like old villages, here. I think long time ago they usually put up dry fish. The dry fish, even they turn brown, that dry fish flavor not gonna go away. It's gonna be, taste like dry fish. That's what they told me. Keep an eye on this old village. 'Cause those older people, before, they might put fish away. Might be some in the ground. Lot of digging with this, when you're starvation.
Bill: It's hard to think of starvation today. Dallia: Yeah, it's hard to think, but it's good to be on this, so young generation could think about it. Like we are. 'Cause they told us, might be come, not right away. Some times might get it. Mike: Okay, I'll add on to that little bit. When the starvation come, when all the animals gonna be lesser. They told us, we been told by our moms, our folks, we have, we're gonna have two double winter, no summer. That's what we been told. That whenever has double winters, that's a long. Like, one, we have one winter, it's long. And we have double winter, that's, we're not gonna have everything. We're gonna be suffered, they told us. That's when, that's when that we starve, close to starvation, when it come, everything be gone. And we have double winter. That's what they told us. Then, when they tell me, my mom, he's not happy, like, he don't want, he wanna go before that. But they're gone.
Bill: She said she wanted to go before that happened. Mike: Uh huh. Dallia: Them, them, them older people told us, too, this salmon fishing, summertime, we might fish under the ice one of these days. That's where this red salmon come through, under the ice. That's what maybe's gonna have some, we gotta think about it. Might have two winters when the salmon's gonna run through under the ice. But we haven't seen any yet like that. Might be coming. Don: Would you have to put nets under the ice to get the salmon, then? Dallia: That's the, we might have to do that, they told us. But old days they used to, I used to see my old man, too, he put net under, he spread 'er, too. He put the hole in the ice, go through. He know more about it than I do. Net under the ice. Mike: I used to watch my brothers while he'd teach my mom, I used it under, net under ice. How to make, how to set it, how to pick it. Pretty interesting, but I still remember. But we haven't hardly for a long time.
Mike: Beside, we have a fish trap under ice, too. Get wild fish, fresh water fish. When we use fish trap, I used to watch my grandpa. Chop a hole, eight by four feet wide, put the fish trap down. Then you gotta fence it, like wild trees, make a hole in the ice and put all them trees. 'Cause the fish trap have a funnel, like, funnel. Then leave that four feet open. And I'll tell you, fence enough of trees so the fish could come closer and closer and closer. And they go in the fish trap. Bill: Funnel in. Mike: That's the way I used to watch my grandpa when he make fish trap. And he told me, some days you gonna do it like me. When you get older. I still, I still think about that. There's lot of work. You cut a lot of willows and you make the hole nice. You, you fence it, your fish trap, so the fish could come. Close to funnel. Don: Do you still build fish traps. Dallia: Yeah. Mike: Now days you can use them little, what you call them little wires, make it four by eight. Dallia: Lots easier now days, you use that... Mike: Easier than long time ago. Lot of two by four, you can cut it any size you want it. Long time ago, you make 'em out of trees or roots, make it round. Then you gotta kind of sew it around the funnel. But nowdays they're easier. Just got lot of stuff to make with. So...
Bill: So when you talk to your kids and your grandkids and you tell them those old stories, are you thinking about the past, or are you thinking about the future or both? Mike: Well when we talk to our younger, younger people, what they tell is coming some time, but we don't know when, but we always told them 'head of time. But we don't know when it's gonna happen. But old people, even, even they not reading on the paper, they know what's coming, what's gonna happen. They know. I believe it. 'Cause I used to watch my mom and grandpa. They told us way ahead of time what we got see, coming. Even right today I see what used to told me when I was a little boy. Now I start seeing stuff. And they told us, it not gonna be like long time ago when you get older. You could see some airplane, snowmachine. Not like a long time ago with the kayak. It's true, I've seen it right today, a lot of changing. Yeah, those old people know. But I guess they know from a long time ago. They don't take talk like and write it down, but they know what they are coming. So I believe it 'cause I always see it. My grandpa wasn't make something, he tell me something gonna come later but right today start coming. A lot of changing from long time.
Bill: What changes do you see that are most important? Mike: Well right now that is snowmobiles, snowmachines, three-wheelers. That's changing from break Dallia: Besides snowmachine, we got a lot of skiffs, too. There's a lot of change from long time ago. And beside a skiff and motor, airplanes. Lots of airplanes, summer time, especially. In and out of here. Float plane and lot of change. Lot of white peoples coming, too. In summer time, especially. Boats you see.
Bill: Are there changes in what young people are doing? Mike: More fisherman. That's a change, there's lots of little boats. Like when we travel to our cabin from here to Alagnak, come to lots of little boats. And we have to slow down, some time, 'cause they fish right in the channel where we go. Alagnak, the channel, some places is narrow, about five, six feet, sometimes. And you don't wanna go on the gravel. And they kind of wave us off. When they wave me, I stop. I tell them, "I can't go in this gravel with my prop. 'Cause they're expensive." And I tell them to reel their hook so let me go by. They take my word. Sometime they pick their hook and raise, let me go by.
Bill: Any advice for young people? Mike: How to answer that. Well, you mean like if I go in a boat and some young guy go in the boat, too, like run into all these fishermans? Bill: No, just in general. We've been talking about people living out on the land and hunting and fishing and your grandparents and what you've done in your life. And we're making this record for people, next generation, maybe generation after that. And you have a lot of wisdom. A lot of things you've learned. You don't have to put something on there. I just thought you might want to. Mike: Well seems like pretty much now we put in there. Some times we have to change, change a little bit when you ask it. We can't answer you right away. We gotta think a little bit how to answer your question. Bill: Well I'll turn it off and we'll think a minute. And if we want, we'll add it. If not, we won't.