Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Stanley Ned

Stanley Ned and I talked in one of the recording studios at Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks, on the morning of December 11, l992. Stanley's comments were very articulate and wide-ranging. Stanley is from Allakaket, Alaska and is married to Virginia Moses, whose parents are Johnson and Bertha Moses, and they have two sons. Virginia is a teacher in the school at Allakaket. Born in March 1950, Stanley is one of the younger people I interviewed. We began by talking about Stanley's family, early experiences, and growing up. Some of his favorite early memories are of the spring, summer, and winter camps his family used. He talked about the various camps, including the village of South Fork, the resources that came from various locations, and their importance to him and his people. For Stanley, the older people in his family were his most important teachers, his "professors". He especially remembers his Grandpa Joe Williams, and recalled how at spring camp he brought in muskrats in the early morning and cooked hot cakes. His uncles, William Williams and Jimmy Koyukuk, and his aunt, Effie Williams, were also important teachers. They taught him how to live in camp, trap and skin muskrats, how to hunt and take care of ducks, and other hunting skills. In the context of learning, the effects of missionaries and the school came up. Stanley sees many of these outsiders as lacking an understanding of his people. He feels they depreciated Native ways of doing things and restricted Native cultural practices and language use. The missionaries criticized Native rituals and ceremonies, calling them "devil worship." Some of the teachers punished the children for using their Native language, in some cases using such harsh measures as spanking them with a paddle or washing their mouths out with Borax soap when they spoke it. Stanley drew an important contrast between the teachers he encountered in school and the true teachers of his own culture who were his grandfathers, aunts, uncles, and older brothers. They taught by telling stories about hunting and other life experiences and then by having young people actually gain experience themselves by living and working in camp. They learned about the resources; when to take animals and when to leave them alone. They also learned about values and traditions, especially respect for the natural world. From this store of knowledge, Native people have valuable things to say, and outsiders need to try to listen to them. Stanley went on to talk about his high school experiences first at Mt. Edgecumbe in Sitka and then at Lathrop High School in Fairbanks from which he graduated. He also recounted his military experience which culminated in a combat tour in Vietnam. As with many men who served there, his time in Vietnam has left an indelible impression on the rest of his life. Resuming his education after his military service was not easy. In l973, Stanley went to the University of Alaska Fairbanks and stayed two semesters, but found that either he wasn't happy with the University as it existed then, and perhaps the University wasn't quite ready for him, either. He went back to Allakaket and started trapping and living a subsistence lifestyle. His teachers were the older people, and he stayed in Allakaket until l989. When he returned to the university he found attitudes had changed; there was more interest in understanding Native ways and Native students. He completed two more years of college, then went to work for Tanana Chiefs Conference in wildlife management. Stanley contrasts his experiences at the University of Alaska in l973 with what he found when he returned to college in l989-l991. Although some common problems of Native students remain, he describes some important changes in attitudes toward Native students. He eventually plans to return to school and finish his degree in Rural Development. Stanley went on to discuss his work for Tanana Chiefs Conference, where he is a staff researcher for the subsistence program. He sees his role in part as that of cultural translator, of helping to educate non-Natives about Native life. He sees one of the most enjoyable aspects of this job as the chance to work directly with his "professors", the older people who have so much to teach. For him, the project that excites him the most is an effort to collect all the information he can find on potlatches. The potlatch is a crucial ceremony for Koyukon people; Stanley compares it to a last supper, an ultimate expression of respect and a chance to say a final farewell to the deceased. People bring out their best food, delicacies saved as well as fresh meat. It is a time when a village is like one big family, when people share and support each other spiritually in very special ways. It is a central element in Koyukon life. For Stanley, the potlatch embodies what he sees as the importance of traditions passing between generations. Stanley also sees the changes taking place, the development going on, as like a malignant cancer that cannot be stopped. Among the on-going changes that concern him are: language loss, the lack of knowledge and understanding among younger Native people of their heritage, the loss of knowledge of place names and the information they represent because the kids don't travel on the land and learn the names, the impact of state and federal regulations, the influx of outside people, the growing private land ownership, the increasing pressure on the land and its resources, the conflicts that pressure is engendering, and the disproportional impact of lobbyists and special interests which the Native people often don't have enough money to fight. Stanley's interview concludes with a discussion of subsistence issues and some of the critical problems that face those dealing with this problem currently. He comments on what he sees as some of the future directions he'd like action on these issues to take. In this regard, he also comments on the local effects of and reactions to formation of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. As with many other federal actions, the hearings held and the actions taken have been almost perfunctory. Little of the information or advice provided by Native people seems to be heard or used. He offers several valuable comments about resources, the spiritual importance of areas within the park, and potential problems of visitor use. His final comments deal with the importance of elders and Native lifeways and the contrasts in values and lifestyles between non-Native and Native people.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 93-15-51

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Dec 11, 1992
Narrator(s): Stanley Ned
Interviewer(s): Wendy Arundale
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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Slideshow
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Sections

1) His background and growing up

2) His grandfather Joe Williams

3) Daily life at camps

4) About missionaries and school at Allakaket

5) True teachers and the differences between Native and Western education

6) Potlatches

7) Attending Mt Edgecumbe and Lathrop high schools

8) Getting drafted into military service

9) His life after military service

10) Experiences at the university

11) Work at Tanana Chiefs Conference

12) Interrelationships and connections between villages

13) Fulfilling aspects of work with Tanana Chiefs Conference

14) Changes affecting people today

15) The subsistence issue

16) Future directions

17) Local effects and reactions to formation of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

18) Final comments

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Transcript

Section 1: born -- March 2, 1950\ Allakaket\ Ned, Simon -- father\ Ned, Pauline -- mother\ mother -- deceased\ high school\ Mt. Edgecumbe -- two years\ Lathrop High School\ Fairbanks\ service -- military; drafted\ spring camp\ memories -- early\ Allakaket -- camp four miles above\ camps -- winter, summer, spring|

Section 2: Williams, Joe -- grandfather\ grandfather -- brought in muskrats early in morning, cooked hotcakes\ elders -- as teachers; professors\ grandfather -- taught skills\ muskrats -- skinning\ ducks -- gutting\ hunting -- learned from them\ uncle -- William, William\ Koyukuk, Jimmy -- lived with them\ wildlife -- learned how to care for, what, when to take|

Section 3: summer camp\ fish camp\ season -- mid-June to late August\ South Fork -- forty miles above Allakaket\ South Fork -- old village\ Koyukuk River\ chum salmon\ dog salmon\ village -- by 1950's living in Allakaket\ Kanuti\ Alatna\ school -- forced into by missionaries, teachers, miners\ teachers -- against use of Native tongue\ religion -- said to be devil worship\ problem -- outsiders lacked understanding|

Section 4: Mendelsohn, Randy\ church -- degraded Native ways, restricted people and language\ school -- started at age seven\ language -- English spoken in school; hard\ teachers -- not one was helpful or sympathetic\ language -- punished for use of Native tongue\ punishments -- Borax soap, paddle, etc.|

Section 5: teachers -- true; grandfathers, aunts, uncles, brothers\ aunt -- Williams, Effie, stayed at camp with\ stories\ camp -- work, got wood\ uncle -- stories from hunting\ education -- like the Native way better\ resources -- knowledge of fish and game\ management -- when to take or not\ language -- Natives have hard time with English, meanings differ\ advice -- try to listen to what Native people have to say\ values\ tradition\ animals -- taking care of\ management -- when to get, leave alone\ moose -- pop the eyes so animal will not see; respect\ culture -- many things won't be taped because they will be misunderstood|

Section 6: potlatch -- important\ last supper -- respect for deceased\ potlatch -- changes in\ missionaries -- took away things\ culture loss -- missionaries, teachers, miners\ religion -- outsider's discouraged\ white people -- have their God\ Native people -- have their spirit\ conflict -- no scientific proof of either, yet whites don't see it that way|

Section 7: Mt. Edgecumbe -- 1966; strange place\ father -- said would be good experience\ students -- fellow villagers; helped\ Mt. Edgecumbe -- left after two years\ conflict -- authority\ Lathrop -- distractions\ foster couple -- stayed with; Fairbanks\ Berger, Roger and Molly|

Section 8: Army -- drafted July 7, 1970\ Washington -- left for July 22\ Fort Hughes -- stayed two months, boot camp\ Fort Carson -- Colorado\ advanced infantry training -- two more months\ Allakaket -- two weeks to say goodbye\ Fort Dick -- New Jersey; two and half months\ Stuttgaurd, Germany -- enjoyed experience\ prejudice -- found everywhere\ Vietnam -- nobody liked it there\ Vietnam -- left March 18, 1972|

Section 9: University of Alaska Fairbanks -- two semesters; 1973\ school -- quit, wasn't ready\ Allakaket -- started trapping\ subsistence\ teachers -- older people\ Allakaket -- stayed from 1973-1989\ University of Alaska Fairbanks -- two years\ Tanana Chiefs Conference -- accepted job with\ school -- plan to return to finish\ wildlife management\ rural development|

Section 10: attitudes -- change since 1973; more interest now in understanding Native ways\ Native students -- common problems\ language -- Natives use mix of tongues\ effect -- people keep quiet; self-conscious|

Section 11: Tanana Chiefs Conference -- job as staff researcher\ subsistence program -- get information from villages\ Westerners -- goal to educate about Native life\ cultural translator\ potlatches -- funeral and memorial; changes\ regions -- traditions vary\ South Fork People\ Old Man People -- Kanuti\ Huslia\ Koyukuk People\ Hughes\ Huslia\ Allakaket\ Alatna\ Galena -- more Western influence\ stickdance\ Koyukuk\ Nulato|

Section 12: family -- one big one\ death -- people gather to help spiritually\ mourning -- shared\ potlatch -- funeral; best food, fresh meat\ last supper|

Section 13: job\ elders -- enjoy work with\ professors -- old people\ tradition -- passing between generations\ change -- development like malignant cancer; can't be stopped|

Section 14: language -- loss\ Jones, Professor Eliza\ Arundale, Wendy -- technical support\ Native Heritage -- young don't understand, nothing documented\ place names -- kids don't travel and learn\ regulations -- state and federal\ land ownership\ people -- influx of outsiders\ Bettles -- access road proposed\ villages -- on road, people move in\ subsistence -- big impact on\ Lower 48 -- animals in zoos\ change -- too fast\ land -- that is our store for fresh food\ resources -- pressure upon\ conflicts -- will increase\ lobbyists\ special interests\ money -- Natives don't have enough to fight|

Section 15: subsistence -- critical issue\ tribal government\ Indian Reorganization Act\ government -- state and federal\ Washington -- try to run our life\ regulations -- state game; apply more to sport hunters than Natives\ villages -- not listened to by bureaucracy\ Natives -- input slowly having effect\ agencies -- state; listening\ McDowell Case -- took away subsistence\ federal government -- took over\ Tanana Chiefs Conference|

Section 16: comanagement -- help with regulation\ education -- Native involvement\ bureaucracy\ subsistence advisory groups\ McDowell Case -- effect is more attention to Native concerns|

Section 17: Allakaket -- hearing\ federal government -- took input\ result -- little listened to or used\ hearings -- almost done just to have record of dealing with Natives\ Gates of the Arctic -- local use\ hunting -- moose, caribou, sheep\ Gates of the Arctic -- long used as resource in reserve\ Gates of the Arctic -- spiritual importance\ Gates of the Arctic -- local attitudes toward\ park\ permits\ restrictions\ reaction -- negative\ visitor use -- on increase\ Bettles -- launch point\ subsistence -- afraid to lose rights\ floaters -- going through prime hunting land\ South Fork -- moose hunting\ Tanana Chiefs Conference -- working on regulation proposals|

Section 18: place names -- map; to be completed with elders\ values -- Allakaket\ Westerners\ Natives -- ways at home\ Westerners -- accumulate things\ Natives -- live mostly off land\ elders\ Native ways|