This is the continuation of an interview with Anne and George Wilson, Sr. on March 7, 1995 by Bill Schneider and Don Callaway in the Wilson's home in Igiugig, Alaska. In this second part of three part interview, Anne and George talk about their seasonal round of subsistence activities. George also talks about being a commercial fisherman, using a snowmachine and All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) for trapping and hunting, and how subsistence has changed in the region with land use restrictions, increased air traffic, and expansion of sport fishing and hunting lodges. Anne talks about running the household and raising the children while George was away for long periods on the trapline. Anne and George also discuss the importance of sharing food, following traditional rules, and respecting elders.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Katmai National Park
Date of Interview: Mar 7, 1995
Narrator(s): Anne Wilson, George Wilson, Sr.
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Don Callaway
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What they did in the Fall
The start of trapping season
George's getting out on his own
Commercial fishing preparation in the 1950s and 1960s
What it took to run a commercial fishing boat in the early years
Navigation and currents in Bristol Bay
Anne's life with George
George's first snowmachine
Changes as a result of four-wheelers
Anne's life at home while George was away
Their move to Igiugig
Trapping in the area
Changes in the trapping area
How life has changed since their children have grown up
Regulations and continued land use
The Fall part of the yearly cycle
Spring after beaver trapping
Camp in Levelock
Getting down to the Bay
Arrival of fishing lodges in the area
Lodges and sportfishing (continued)
Air traffic's impact on game
Use of caribou
Food sharing and preparation for holidays
Rules for food sharing
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
Bill: Okay, so you'd come back and get the moose in the freezer, and then what would be the next part of that yearly cycle, when you first got married? George: Ah, like after you get your moose in the freezer, well you, you've got your fish. And sometimes we put the salmon and birds in the freezer, the ones that we don't get in the winter time, like in the fall season. Ducks and geese, ready to leave south, we go get some birds for the freezer, too. The birds we don't get in the winter time, we get 'em in the fall. Bill: Which ones are those? George: Like the mallards and the pintails and the geese. We kill ducks, and stuff like that, that leave in the fall of the year, we get a few of them and put em in the freezer. That way we have a variety of meat during the winter. Bill: OK George: It was amazing, you know, from living from day to day and had to go out and hunt, you know and get food for the table all the time, different. Like fishing and hunting, just out from day to day.
Bill: And then, when would the trapping season start for you. George: In November 10 the mink would open. Mink and otter and fox, wolverine, wolf and lynx. And it would go all the way through the winter 'til beaver season opened. And then February you started beaver trapping. That's how we went through the winters, just from one trapping season to another. And get enough for, might be kids need something for schooling, or clothing, and other things we needed. Travel, new outboard motor, or just to pay the light bill or, now a phone bill. And it all comes from our seasonal work like fishing and trapping. And that's the only livelihood I got is a fisherman and a trapper. Bill: Yeah. And then in the summer, what would you be doing? George: Fishing. Bill: Commercial? George: Commercial fishing, yeah. Bill: Tell us about that. When you started commercial fishing and who you started with. George: Well, I started with Andy Woods in '49, and then 1950 I went with my dad for about eight years. And then I started, myself, when, just before I got married in '58, I started fishing. And I've been a fisherman since 1950 originally. I only fished about four days, I think, with Andy Woods in '49. Four or five days. And after that I fished every year. With my dad. 'Til '58, then I started on my own. And that's when I raised, start raisin' my family. I was out on my own.
Bill: Tell us about that, how you got started on your own. George: Well, I just decided I knew enough and wasn't afraid to go out in life and start making my own living. And building a home and family. Felt good to be on your own, instead of depending on your folks. And staying, you know, out by yourself and doing the things like your folks taught you how and raised you. Bill: Did you buy a boat in '58, or how did you do that? George: No, I used a company boat, Nakeen there. I fished for, I don't know, five years in a company boat. Then I bought a boat from Nakeen there. I think it was in '67. My first boat I owned. Fishing boat, commercial fishing boat. And I fished that until '79, I think. And then I bought a new fiberglass boat and I still got it. Wagley, 1980 Wagley. And I really like it, compared to the old wooden boat. You had to take care of every fall and then the spring time, when it comes to putting it in the water, you had to cork it, scrape it and cork it, then repaint it. And quite a bit of difference from a fiberglass or aluminum boat and the old wood boat. And then you had to take care of your nets, hang net and get ready for your fishing season.
Bill: Back then in '58 when you started with the company. How did they work, how did the companies decide? George: Well, I went to Nakeen and I asked the superintendant if I could fish for them and if I could have a boat. And he knew my dad and my brothers. And he, "Well, I'll give you a try," he said. "I'll give you a boat, see how it turned out." And I fished Nakeen until they sold out to Peterson Point there in, I think in '69. And I fished two years for Peterson Point and then I went to Nelbrow in '71, I think. And I been with Nelbrow... Bill: Ever since. George: Uh huh. I fished one year at Alaska Packers, that's how I used to work in the spring and the fall down there at Dimond J, pulling the scows and the boat and put 'em back in the water in the spring time. For 'em about, oh, from '64, I think and then 'til 1972, I think. I quit Dimond J there and been just taking care of fishing and trapping, getting ready for trapping, since then. I never went back to work labor in canneries. I just commercial fished and trapped all my life. Bill: Did you do some labor work in the canneries before? George: Yeah. Bill: When you were young? George: Started with ?Hermie there when I was I think 16 years old, started working labor. When everything used to be hauled by these barges, and they're still hauling it by barges now, but mostly it was hand. Everything was by, moving boxes by hand and one at a time, not this cribbed loads and forklift there. It was, you unloaded the whole scow by hand, transferring it. Same way with oil, when they haul oil, they have fifty gallon barrels of oil. And that's how you unloaded it. By hand. Bill: When you got your boat from the company there and they gave you a try, did, how did you get a crew, who did you pick for your crew? George: Oh, I had a, I think the first year I started out I fished by myself. And I fished for I think two years then I got one of my nephews to fish with me. And then my brother-in-law and then, yeah, a couple of my brother-in-laws, and Anne's brother fished for quite a few years with me. And he's still fishing with me, off and on, been fishing with me since '69. He fished last year with me. He's gonna fish with me again this year. So he's been fishing since '69 with me.
Bill: In the old days, how soon did you have to get ready. Like back then in '58. When would people start going down to the bay and start working on the boats and getting 'em ready? George: Oh, about the end of April, first of May. They'd take a crew in toward the end of April there to hook up all the pipes and get things ready. And the bunkhouses and the cooking shacks and everything, you know, and then gradually more and more people would come in. And they'd start hanging nets, getting the boats ready, painted, scraped, corked, and new planks changed. And getting the engines ready to, and it'd take a little bit over a month, I guess, to get them all, month and a half, sometimes two months. Depends on the temperature in the spring, there. You had to watch. When they hook up the pipes and put water in, you know, you had to make sure the temperature was warm enough so they wouldn't freeze. So it would depend on the spring climate, you know, how early they would start. And if there was nice and warm they'd start up early, but if they had a lot of snow, they'd wait until it would warm up a little bit. And that's how the canneries started getting ready for the summer. That's how we made our living, is going down, getting an early start and getting hired on. So we'd make a few extra dollars beside just fishing. And that's how I learned to raise a family.
Bill: People that will be listening to this who aren't from this area, maybe from New York City or wherever. Let's just take a minute and describe what it took to run a commercial fishing boat in the early years down in the bay. Give people a sense of that part of life. George: Well it was a lot of work and most of us were, you know, born and raised into it. And we watch our folks do it, our dad teach us how to operate a boat and how to handle a boat. And make sure you didn't overload the boat when you, the weather start to get bad out there. So a boat only could hold so many fish and if you get greedy, a lot of people do that, you know, and they put too much weight in the boat and start taking on water. And you have to head for port before you, it gets too bad. So your judgement of how you took care of your loads and travelling out there was what you learned from either your dad or an elder that you fished with. So we were born and raised on the bay out there, every year fishing. And sometimes it was pretty hard not to put the net out the second time and put more weight in the boat. But you had to think twice before you wanted to make it into deliver a load of fish or a swamped boat. It was quite an experience in how to handle a boat out there in the weather and how much to put in it. So you learned that gradually from growing up with the elder that knew how to do it. Bill: Who were some of the people you remember that taught you a lot? George: Well, my dad I fished with for eight years. And that's what taught me how to fish and load the boat and how to handle it. I was the youngest one, on the boys, so I was the last one he had in the boat. And when I quit fishing with him, my next older brother, Willie, he went back fishing with Dad. Yeah he went a couple of years in the service, then so when he got out of the service he went back fishing with Dad again. That's how it turned out.
Bill: In those early years, did you have to know much about navigation and the currents, and ... George: Yeah, it's a, the current in the bay down here is, I don't know, is the second or third swiftest and the highest tides in the world, I think. And you gotta know ... Anne: Where the sandbars are. George: The sandbars and the channels are. And when a tide changes and how far you're gonna drift and when to start pulling and when to set out, or where to set out, you know. And they're all, you learn that through experience and your dad, either, or your elder that you fished with knew the areas out there. And that current and the wind could pick up. But in a couple of hours time it gonna be blowin 60, 70 miles an hour. And here your boat's half loaded and you're wondering how much more to put in it. laughs And strong tides and heavy winds, too, and in between the sandbars. You gotta know what you're doin out there, and what direction to head in. So navigation was, you know, how you knew the bay and know how to read the compass when it gets dark and foggy. And you know where you are when you set out and what direction the tide's goin, and how far you drift, you figure, and when fog set in or night driftin, then you just go by what you were taught. And follow the rules and always be careful and never take chances.
Bill: Well, let's get you married. Annie, when did you and George get married, and when did you start raising your family together? Anne: George and I got married December the 15th, 1966, in Naknek. Sarah Hornberger married us. In '67 we had our oldest daughter. '71 we had our son. '75 we had our youngest one, youngest daughter. Now they're all, they're all gone. Our youngest one is in the army over there in Virginia. She'll be stationed in Germany this coming April. And our son, he's married and living in Naknek, and he's a outdoors person. And our oldest daughter, she was in the coast guard after she graduated. And now she's home and she's married. So I have two married children and our youngest one is in the army. Bill: And when you got married, where were you living? Where did you live? Anne: We lived in Levelock until we moved up here in '76. Bill: So you lived there almost 10 years. And tell us, together maybe, what life was like when you were living in Levelock, in terms of the land and hunting, fishing, trapping, and taking care of the family. And how did you, give us a typical year then. Anne: When I first got married to Georgie there was no electricity. And no, I mean, not like every day. We had our own little generator George would start up every evening. And we had our little freezer and our little washing machine. And we had no vehicle at that time, so we, everywhere we went we had to walk. We had to walk to the post office, or walk up and see my folks. Walk everywhere we went. But we had a skiff and motor when George: Skiff and kicker to travel up to go hunting and fishing for meat and fish for the freezer. Bill: So you had a skiff and a motor. Your first snowmachine was '66. That was about the time you got married. Anne: But it was not George: Yeah, we used that in the travel in the winter time. We had to walk in the summer time when there was no snow. But that snowmachine was for trapping in winter time.
Bill: Maybe you should tell us about that first snowmachine. I bet that was one of the George: Oh, it's a old Polaris I bought that was second-hand. And Anne: There's a picture of it there with the wheelbarrow wheels. George: Oh, I did use it, yeah, I put wheels on it to try it out in the summer time. So that's how we got around, from our place to her folks' place. I put wheels on it. And it had bogey wheels on it underneath, didn't have no slide rails, so it worked, bare ground didn't bother it. But it was a rough riding, it didn't have springs, it's just, on the front there, they're all iron wheels from an old wheel barrow, I put on. And that's how we travelled that, oh, half a mile distance from our house to her dad's. I used that both in the summer and in the winter when we needed to use it. But most of the time we walked. Bill: How did snowmachines change your life out on the country. George: Well, it made travelling a lot easier. And you could travel a lot further in a day with a machine than you could by walking and packing. You could throw a sleigh behind it and they towed pretty good load. And it was a lot easier to get from one camp to another with all your equipment in one day, instead of packing it in little at a time. And with a snowmachine you put everything in a sleigh and get it out there in one trip. And it was quite a bit different than walking and carrying stuff in.
Bill: You were mentioning earlier about that triangle you do, that route. Would you mention that again on tape. George: Oh, trapping from Levelock up to the Branch and then Bill: Snowmachine. George: Yeah. My brother-in-law Nick and I, what, we had a trapline that's on the snowmachine was 146 miles, I think. Well, you know, that's just on the tachometer there. Bill: And how would it go? George: It would go up from, well, I leave Levelock and I follow the Branch all the way up until I hit the forks, there. And there was the Kukaklek River, we'd go up that. Then we'd portage over, then hit the Nonvianuk River and come back down to one of the cabins down below I had on the Branch, there. And we had, oh, on the thing it would clock 146 miles on it. And that's the, not actual miles, you know, that's the track, that'll spin a little bit. But it's pretty close to a hundred and forty miles, I'd say. And we had a trapline for years like that. Travelling up on that Branch, there. And we would trap different areas for the beaver season. We'd go from Branch over to the King Salmon River some time. And then up to Kvichak on the Yellow Creek. And then down on the Bear Creek. And I even trapped down the coast, and I trapped up in Koktuli and Mulchatna area there. And now I'm trapping up in, toward Kukaklek and Nonvianuk area, just snow-go and four-wheeler, three-wheeler and four-wheeler when, earlier in the fall it'll, no snow, I use the four-wheeler or three-wheeler. And then after I get snow, it's harder to travel by four-wheeler. And it's a lot easier with the snowmachine. So I use the snowmachine. And that's how I trap.
George: Then the changes from walking and using a four-wheeler instead of packing in. We let the machine carry all your load, your traps and your fur. And it ... Bill: Makes it easier to break trail than with dogs. George: Yeah it is. A lot of different. Dogs, you know, you could only cover so many miles a day with a dog team. And snowmachine or four-wheeler, it's limited, too, but depends on how many traps you got out. And when I leave in the morning and I come back at evening when it's dark. Spend the whole day out there. That's the changes from dog team to snowmachine and four-wheeler. You just had to buy a little extra gas for your snowmachine in the winter time, and for your outboard motors in the spring, you know. So we bought everything bulk rate in the fall. Made sure we had enough to last us all winter. And that's how we do our travelling. Bill: And when did, you said the three-wheelers came in in '76? George: That's when I bought my first one, yeah. And I been using 'em ever since. Bill: And why would you use three-wheeler in winter time? George: Well uh, soon as it starts to freeze and you know, the travelling was easy. You'd get out all over with the three-wheeler out there. After it freezes, all the swamps and the lakes are frozen. You can travel for miles out there and it's easier travelling, you know, with a three-wheeler than just walking. Like earlier in the fall when you start trapping mink and fox and wolverine and lynx, you could carry quite a few animals on a three-wheeler, four-wheeler, than you can packing. And you can cover a lot more ground with a three-wheeler than you could by just walking, with twice the amount of gear on. Three times the amount of gear. On a three-wheeler.
Bill: That must have been difficult when George went out on those long trips. You were home taking care of kids? Anne: Yes, I was home taking care of my kids. When he leaves in the morning, and I'll ask, "When you might be back?" "When it gets dark." So "dark" means like nine o'clock at night. It's not like six o'clock at night. laughing And once in a while he'll break down, and he'll have to walk back from wherever. And there are times, a couple of times last year and the year before he did that, cause there's nobody here to go check on him. So I just lay on the couch and wait and then Tiffany will start barking. She start barking the other, about a week ago, two weeks ago, 12:30 at night's when Georgie came back, from behind, like toward Kukaklek, he was back there. He broke down back there and had to walk in. So it was hard, you know, and when there was just the kids and I.
Bill: Well, I think we should stop here. break Okay, we're back on, in the afternoon. Tell me a little bit about why you decided to move up to Igiugig. Anne: We moved up here because my blind grandma was still alive and I wanted my children to get to know her before she passed on. So we moved up here. At that time my two older ones were eight and four. And Tweet was just a year old. That's why we moved up here, so she could spend time with my blind grandma. Let the kids see that she can clean her own house. She had a one-bedroom house and she'd keep it clean. Had her dishes clean. She knew how to make her own bread. And I want my kids to see that. So that's why we came up here. End of Side A
Side B Anne: Her name was Anuska Arnalquar And she died in '83. Bill: And your children did get a chance to know her. Anne: Yeah, they got to know her. And take her fishing down on the beach down here. So she had time with my kids. Now it's your trapping. George: Well, Anne was born and raised here and she wanted to come back and spend some time up here and see if I would enjoy it. And I said, "Okay, I'll move up." So '76 we moved up and I started trapping up in this area, here. So, I enjoyed it. And it's been really nice, and I been trapping up there ever since, from out of Igiugig there, out on the trapline. And the cabins, they're not too far. And I go across to Branch when it freezes over. It's just a little farther northeast than where I was trapping, but it's still in the same principal area that I did trap in. And we got a lot, still more lynk and wolverine than I did on that lower trapline. I usually go up the Branch, now. I got over in this higher country here, next to Kukaklek. And Nonvianuk, there's a lot of lynk and wolverine come through all the time. And then get a few wolves once in a while. So I enjoy the trapping up here. And year-around we could boat if we wanted, the river stays open just about year round. And fishing, lot of fresh fish out of the river, here. So we got a variety of food here. Right from the village, here, not far. Don't have to go very far to get any kind of a fish or bird, ptarmigan, and meat. So it's been real nice out here. Since I moved up I enjoyed trapping here.
Bill: So your trapping area changed a little bit. George: Yeah, not much but just a little further northeast than where I was. But I still trapped at Branch River for mink and otter and fox. But I got into more lynk now, and wolverine and wolf. Bill: Up in the Naponek? George: Yeah. Up from the, closer to the mountains. Lot more lynx and wolverine, wolves come out of there all the time, and get a chance to get some of them once in a while.
Bill: How has life changed since the kids have grown up? Anne: I have a lot more free time with my handicraft. And I can go boating whenever Georgie goes out, I don't have to wait til they get out of school or find a baby sitter. Now that the kids are all out, I can go boating and snowmachining and Honda-ing. And you know, seem like it's "my time" now. Bill: Let me just ask you, at this point, what you're thinking about in terms of your kids and your grandchildren in terms of opportunities that you've had in your lifetime and your parents and grandparents and the land out here. George: The way I feel is, I grew up in this land out here. I been using it all my life and my dad has, you know and my mother. And I want my children to keep on using that land the way it's, we've been, you know, from generation to generation. And they're just starting out in using it now and understand how we live and taking care of ourself, and trap, and use the land, you know, freely. And that's what I want my children to do. Just keep on where we left off. The feeling of, ah, just open and, you feel wonderful out there in that land.
Bill: Do you think that's going to continue to be the case with the regulations the way they emerge? George: I see it changing all the time. And it's getting harder and harder, you know, they're trying to take most of the land and not use it for trapping and hunting, you know, the same land we grew up in and travelled on. You see it more and more, they're closing out areas so the people can't use it no more. And then they make parks out of it and then, pretty soon they got rules and all they want in there is the sportsman. He's taking out everything from in there and the Native, and what our children, you know, have a right to use, keep on using. That's, I see it all the time it's been changing from since I was a little boy. Grew up and start using it, and then before I'm gone they're gonna close it and trying to keep us out of it. You know, what rightly we used all our life here. Sharing with other people that go out and just use the land, respect, and we live and take our food from that land. And a lot of it, you know, is, is gonna be changing it. I see it, how it's been done. And what we use is just to support our family. And we been using that for years and years and years.
Bill: What's your yearly cycle look like now, George. Tell us what you do in the fall and winter and spring. George: In the fall we try to get birds and stuff that we don't usually get in the winter. And when it's easier, you know. We put them in the freezer. Kinda keep enough in our freezer for special occasions, you know, big potlucks or for our families. That's what we use our, some of our geese and our ducks and different fish, you know, we don't get in the winter, like salmon. We take care of them and put them in the freezer, too, so we'd have them in winter time and special occasion. And some of the meat, you know, it's better to hunt when the season is right and the animal is really fat and rich, instead of in the middle of the winter when he's half-starvin' sometime, you know. And it's hard to find a really good moose or an animal that's been havin' hard times out there. But when they're, through the summer, you know, they're just getting off their laziness and out, really built good, you know, and a lot of fat in 'em and rich and, 'cause we use the moose fat for berries and stuff for cooking and hamburger and stuff. And we use pretty near all the meat then. We don't waste very much, very little. Bill: So you're hunting in the fall, for moose and caribou? George: Yeah, that's when they're the best eatin' you know, when they're, they get all them plant foods that are fresh, just like fresh vegetables they have. And they're really rich in their body and fat, and I guess just like a person. Vitamins are very important to an animal and they eat everything really fresh all summer and then in the fall they're just really good eatin', you know. You got the best meat. And they're really good, rich in their bodies for food for family. And that's what's good about when you get a moose that's really a healthy animal. Or even a caribou, the healthy ones. They're really rich in, for food. I mean their vitamins and stuff for your children, for growing.
Bill: And then in winter? George: Well we, when we kinda run low on something, we'll go out and do our hunting. Caribou and like ptarmigan and rabbit and stuff, you know, we get all winter. And our first caribou, you know. And if I don't get a moose in the fall, then I'll get a few caribou, you know. I'll get to kill moose, you know, that winter season. Bill: And when does trapping start? George: November 10th, opens. Bill: Are you able to travel then? George: Yeah. It's starting to freeze good, everything is starting to freeze. It starts in, oh, sometime we get an early freeze in October and everything is frozen by the end of October. And then we travel all over. Bill: And then trapping continues up 'til? George: I just pulled my traps outhere the end of February. So beaver is still open yet, though. So it'll be open for another, oh, I think it's 15th, on the 15th it closes, or maybe the end of this month. I'm not sure beaver season's gonna, be a little longer. break
Bill: So, ah, let's do spring now. After beaver trapping. George: And now we do a lot of like the pike fishing and then some rainbow fishing. Mostly pike fishing in the spring time of the year. Getting fish, like unsalted. We take care of them and then split 'em and dry 'em. Anne: Air-dried. George: Air-dried for the spring and the summer, part of our food we use. Bill: As the river starts to open up? Anne: Uh huh. George: Yeah, it's opening up now, so it's opened far enough now so you go down and start to fish pike through the ice in the creeks. Bill: Where abouts do you go for that? George: Down Kaskanak. It's about seven miles down from here. So yeah, Anne enjoys that. She likes fishing pike. Anne: I can sit there and jiggle through the ice. George:And when she come home, she splits them up, then we hang 'em on the rack to dry. Then we have 'em for the summer. Bill: Okay. And then what? George: And then we start getting ready for the summer. I get ready to go down to the bay for fishing and she gets ready for her summer camp in Levelock, and start putting up smoked salmon for the winter use ? .
Bill: Tell us about your camp in Levelock. Anne: Oh, it's just down my mom's smoke house beach, you know, down there in, the tide goes in and out so you have to go with the tides. Sometime you go down like 5 o'clock in the morning to pick the net. And then split your fish and then wait for the next tide. Before we get all the fish there, you know, we clean out the smokehouse from the previous year. And make sure that we got enough birch to last us for the summer. Just a smolder the fire. So it's, I like doing that kind of stuff. So we start getting salmon down there, middle part of June 'til August. Bill: Would you go down by boat and drop Anne off and then keep going? George: Well, I stay, I spend some time there with her. I haul her smoke wood first, with skiff. Go up and get driftwood along the beach and then birch. Then I start hanging my nets down there when she's busy preparing for her fish. Anne: 'Cause we have another home, a summer home in Levelock where we stay down there. And that's where all my relatives live in the summer time. My mom and my sister and my brothers. And Georgie's nephews come up every once in a while. That's what we do during the ... George: Seasonal chores.
Bill: And then how do you get down to the bay from there? George: I either go down with a skiff, I got the boat down there at Levelock. I usually keep it at Levelock. Bill: Oh you do. George: Uh huh. So I launch the boat there, and then go to Naknek from there. Don: Do you drift net or set net, George? George: I drift net, gill-netter. Bill: So then you're involved in that all summer? George: Uh huh, yeah. June and July and some time in August, all fishing. Silvers, Dogs. And that takes care of my summer and fall fishing. Then I come back and we move back up here. Pack everything up and come back up to Igiugig again. Anne: And wait for the barges to come haul our oil. Oil and gas. George: Yeah, oil and gas in the fall.
Bill: Okay, good. Just a little something on the fishing lodges. When did the first fishing lodges come in, in this area? George: June 10, I guess, that they opened up. Anne: Yeah, but. Bill: How far back in time. Anne: Red Clark, when they came? George: Oh, when I first, well I used to guide for Red Clark in '60, I think, or '61, somewhere around there. He's the first one that started here on the Kvichak, start the Kvichak, lodge. And I used to come up in the fall after I get through fishing and guide. Guide for Red. Bill: Is that a fall activity? George: Well he's open all summer. But I guess the, when the sports fishing opens, I don't know, it's the 10th of July, I think. Anne: I thought it was June. George: June, June 10. Anne: Cause the Fish and Game do their stuff in May. End of May. They tag all the trout and then they count the smolt. George: And then stay here all summer and work. See how many smolt going out in the spring and then they count the salmon ... Bill: Fish and Game? George: coming up in the summer. Bill: What are those lodges interested in in the way of fish? What type of fish are they fishing for? George: They fish all type species, yeah. You name it, they'll fish it. Whatever, you know, allows them to. Sport fish, salmon, too. They take all species. Bill: And what sort of impact has that had on this area? George: Oh, quite a bit. Like when we come back after the summer season and when we want to go fish to catch rainbows to eat, sometimes we fish two, three days before we catch a rainbow. That's how much impact it has on us, sports, for us to catch a fish. So it's, like in August, in the first part of August when we get back, some days you'd fish two, three days and you never catch nothing down there. Other days you can go down and you catch enough for, to eat, in just a little while. It's been like that for about four or five years or more now. Sportsman that, you know, it's so heavily fished here on the Kvichak right here at the upper end.
Bill: And some people work for them, employed? George: Yeah. Lot of them have people out of Anchorage that work, and then a few of the locals stay here. A couple of them, huh? Anne: Uh huh. George: On the sports camps here. Oh they got some local hire here. Bill: Don, do you have any more on sport fishing you want to ask? Speak up a little. Don: Does the community want to use sports fishing as part of its economic base? Are people interested in the community in, in becoming, having lodges and that kind of stuff? Anne: They had talked about it when I was on the village council three years ago. They had talked about that. And I haven't heard anything else, other than that.
Don: How about do the, does the air traffic bother the game? Does it make it tougher to find other game? George: It sure does. Like when they first start, you know, come in, I mean hunters start to fly in and put camps up and, it's hard to find moose then, you know, close by the banks of the river anymore. You know, so much air traffic going in and out. And hunters flying in. It's changed in the past eight, ten years now. When the moose season's open it's hard to find a moose unless you go out where there's hardly any air traffic, you know, in some of these creeks that they can't land in. Float planes. And then you have to go travel further and further away from the village to get moose or caribou. And then these past two years, now, I've been finding caribou dead, you know, on the river. Just the head gone, and just very little of the meat, you know. Waste, a lot of waste them hunters come in. Some of them, you know, even the lodges I think, that been affecting it like that, too. Their guides been taking out hunters. They're not supposed to do that, you know. Unless you got a guide license. They could take them out and camp, let them camp, you know, then go pick 'em up. But you see a lot of dead caribou on the islands and on the banks down there. And there's no camps and nobody around. Don: Sometimes the guides act as outfitters, huh? George: Uh huh. Yeah, that's what they call an outfitter, you know, that take 'em out and drop 'em off and bring 'em back. But there's a lot of 'em just take 'em out and they shoot a caribou right there on the bank and then just butcher it and just mostly for the horn. And waste a lot of meat. I seen, last fall I seen three down there on the banks just the head gone and just cut open and that's it, then take some meat off the legs, and whole animal right there, except the head's gone. Right on the bank. And I know it's sportsmen doing it. And some of these guides, you know. But they're supposed to be outfitters, but they're illegally doing it. And that's how it's been affecting the hunting, you know, for the village. Cause they've been running up and down the river, and there are float planes coming and landing and setting up camps, you know. There's a lot of that outfitting going on now and affecting our hunting here right close to animal.
Don: How were you taught to use the caribou. How much of the caribou and what parts of it were you taught to use, both Anne and George. George: We use just about all the caribou. When we get through with a caribou, you find a gut pile there, that's all, and sometimes I guess the gut pile and the skin. And that's all that's left. We take the whole caribou home. All we leave is just the guts. Don: Do you use the eyes and the brains and the hooves? Anne: Uh huh. George: Yeah, we eat. We eat the head. We make head cheese out of it, or boils, there, eat most of the parts off the head. We boil the whole head and eat it. And that's once in a while we make head cheese. We cut it all up and boil it. And then let it firm up, and we slice it up like sandwich meat. And boy it's real good. Moose head is little better than caribou head, because they got more meat and caribou's a little smaller. We do the same thing with a caribou. We use the whole works when we catch an animal out there. Don: Have you taught your children to do the same thing, too? Anne: Yes. George: Yeah, they always, like when they were younger when we're all hunting and we camp and they watch and they help me with taking care of the meat, packing it.
Don: Who do you share caribou or moose or fish or whatever you get George: Mostly with our family, our friends that don't go out and get any food, I mean hunting, you know. We share it with them. Whoever that doesn't have facility to go out. Anne: But there are times, too, when we'll catch a moose or a caribou and you call your neighbor, and "Oh, we got fresh meat and if you want to cook fresh meat, just come on down and get some." So they come down and get some. Don: How do you get fresh meat. Do you mail it sometimes, or the people are just here, or do you give it to somebody that's going? Anne: Um, fresh meat to get from the stores? Or where? Don: To give fresh caribou to people. Anne: Oh, yeah, we've got, like if George: Oh we take it down when we're gonna go down, give some away like we catch a moose and want to take some down to her folks, we just get ready in the boat and go down with the boat, skiff. When it's fresh. I know they like it when it's fresh so we take it down to 'em. And then sometimes we freeze it and take some down in a cooler so it'll stay fresh and frozen. And we take it down that way.
Bill: How about holiday time? George: Yeah, on holidays she takes care of, you know, big feast meals. And she cooks up nice meals and we all share in the village, the whole village. Make different dishes. And there're agutak, dry fish and boiled meat and a roast or whatever, you know, prepare for 'em. Bill: Annie, what are we forgetting in terms of food sharing? Anne: Um, nothing, really, it's just that on these church holidays, you know, Russian Orthodox church holidays, like in January is a whole week long holiday and different villages come from different areas, like New Stuyahok and Kukanek and Levelock. And they'll come into your house and they they start carolling. And after they get done with carolling, they sit down and eat whatever you offer them. And that's how we do our food-sharing with different villages that come around. And you know, every once in a while somebody will get a gift of something, pair of socks or pair of mittens or a fur hat or something, you know. That's how they, that's how we share holidays.
Don: Were you taught rules for sharing when you were growing up, by your mother, in other words, give to the elders first. Anne: Yes. Don: Could you talk a little bit about that, what they told you about that? Anne: Yes. Whenever they catch something, like if you catch a caribou, you give the ribs and the brisket to whoever is the eldest in the village. Then you just have the plain meat to yourself. You know, you give the choicest parts of the meat to the elders. And they still do that around here. And they do the same thing when the berries are getting ripe. They pick berries and give them to the elder, or they ship 'em down to Levelock, is where our folks are. And that's how we do our sharing with the elders. Don: And that still goes on ... today. Anne: Yes, it still goes on today. Don: Do your children send you things, too? Do you send things back and forth? George: Yeah, like they'll send us fresh stuff and we'll send them fresh meat or fish. Anne: You know, if you want potatoes or onions, you know. They they'll send that to us. And then in turn we'll send them some fresh meat or fish or berries or ... and that's how they get their share, of getting fresh, you know, what we call fresh vegetables off the ground. End of Side B