Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Justus Mekiana, Part 1

This interview with Justus Mekiana was conducted on December 15, 1992 by Bill Schneider at the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum in Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska. Grant Spearman, the curator of the museum arranged the interview and was present along with Justus' niece, Debbie Mekiana. We asked Justus to do the interview because he is so knowledgeable about Nunamiut history and because he was present when the Nunamiut permanently settled in Anaktuvuk Pass in 1949.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 93-15-61

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Dec 15, 1992
Narrator(s): Justus Mekiana
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
People Present: Grant Spearman, Debbie Mekiana
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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1) Grandfather's story

2) Travel from area to area

3) Following the caribou in the late 1930's

4) Airplanes were rare and only one airline flew to the area

5) People who traveled with his grandfather and places traveled in 1940's

6) Money made from hunting wolves

7) How decisions were made concerning the set up of Anaktuvuk Pass, plus how firewood and other needs were acquired

8) Married life

9) First white men that Justus' people met in village

10) The year the baby was born

11) How water was made

12) Memories of historical events in the area

13) First village council

14) Efforts to get a post office

15) The Church

16) Attempts at acquiring various facilities for the town

17) Traders in Anaktuvuk

18) Message to young people, tourists and travelers

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


Section 1: Maptigaq -- name\ Aattuuq -- Grandfather according to Kobuk people\ Killigmiut -- Killik people\ Narvaqvagmiut -- Chandalar people\ Qagmaligmiut -- Anaktuvuk people|

Section 2: Ulumiut\ Itqiligmiut\ Itkillik people\ settlement size -- 25-30 people\ Killigmiut\ Narvaqvagmiut\ Anaqtuuvagmiut\ Qagmaligmiut\ Nigliq -- place\ Nigliq -- place in springtime\ Anaqtuuppaat -- place after freeze-up\ Umiat\ Killigmiut\ Killiq\ Itqiligmiut -- go through the Itqiliq\ Qagmaligmiut -- go through Anaktuvuk\ Killiq -- Iniqagligruaq\ Chandler\ Anaktuvuk -- Anaqtuuvik\ caribou -- lack of\ Qagmaligmiut\ Ulumiut\ Chandler Lake-miut\ Killigmiut\ conflicts -- over land\ Killigmiut\ Nagu area\ Alatna -- Indians\ Iñupiaq people\ conflict -- Iñupiaq and Indians\ Kittillik -- people that Justus is from\ land -- shared by people of all areas\ Kitligmiut\ Ulumiut\ Anaqtuuvagmiut\ Nigliq -- trading place\ dancing\ games\ Barrow people\ Nunamiut people\ Morry, Old Man -- he and family\ Kitligmiu -- grandfather is Kitligmiu\ Potter Island\ Herschel Island\ Libbey -- family name\ Pearl, Charlie\ Courtney, Tom\ Morry, Old Man\ Morry, John\ Morry, Billy\ Morry, Peter\ Potter Island\ Colville River\ Itchugaq , Wilbur\ Kenton, Daniel -- father's brothers\ Panniaq, Simon\ Kakiññaa , Elijah Groovenstein\ Elijas\ Frank\ Killik -- springtime\ Nuiqsut\ 1939|

Section 3: Kobuk\ Maptigaq\ Mekiana, Homer\ travel\ caribou -- following in winter\ ivrulik -- sod house\ Kobuk\ Peter's Point\ itchalik -- tuttu tent\ Bettles -- men's school|

Section 4: Chandler Lake -- 1st airplane landing in 1944 or 1945\ groceries\ fox skins\ Bettles\ Wien, Sig|

Section 5: Kakinya, Elijah\ Paneak, Simon\ Rulland, Frank\ Tulugaq Lake\ Anderson, Jim -- Wien pilot\ wolf bounty\ Bettles -- trading post\ Cessna 180\ Tulugaq -- gathering place\ Suluuppaat\ Kitliq -- place\ Morry, old man\ dogs -- packing\ Aguk, Jesse -- grandfather\ Puvlatuuq\ Qalutagiaq\ Ikiaqpak\ North Fork \ Anaqtiqtuaq|

Section 6: wolves -- pups\ money -- bounty on wolf pups\ Imnavaich\ Sagvagniqtuuq -- wolf pups|

Section 7: dog team\ stove\ willows -- trees sought out for camp\ pilagaqusaaq -- substitute for willows used in summertime\ camping -- winter needs|

Section 8: marriage -- 1953\ Anaktuvuk -- Anaqtuuvik\ baby -- 1953\ Qalutagiaq\ sod house\ Morry, Old Man\ Rulland, Frank\ Ahgook (Aguk), Ben\ sod houses -- new residence\ Sears Roebuck\ Chandler Lake -- caribou\ Chandler Lake\ Ikiaqpak -- caribou\ Qalutagiaq -- winter residence before Christmas|

Section 9: Anaktuvuk Pass -- two white men come in\ Elsner, Bob\ Ladd Field\ Fort Wainwright\ Ahgook (Aguk), Bob\ Ahgook (Aguk), Jack\ Mekiana, Justus\ Aguk, Bob\ Aguk, Jack\ Morry, Old Man\ Bob and Jack -- interpreted for white men|

Section 10: baby -- 1st born late October, 1953\ marriage -- March 4, 1953\ license from missionary\ Barrow -- missionary from\ log church\ Tulugaq\ Paneak, Simon\ Kakinya, Elijah\ Qalutagiaq\ Puvlatuuq\ North Fork -- split up in winter time\ Puvlatuuq\ Uqquumalaat -- traveled here before schoolhouse\ schoolhouse -- in Anaktuvuk\ Anaktuvuk -- families stay because children must attend school\ trapping\ dog mushing|

Section 11: Ernie Pass -- where Daniel "got stuck"\ snow -- not a good drinking water source\ water -- processes for making|

Section 12: schoolhouse -- 1st one 1961\ Tulugaq -- school\ Barrow -- teacher came from to teach Tulugaq people before 1948\ Tulugaq\ Kitliq area -- no school\ Maggaqtuuq\ Imaigñiq\ Hagen, Mr. and Mrs -- teachers\ army tents -- (3) used for schoolhouse\ education -- vs. other commitments\ summer school\ schoolhouse -- coming in from Fairbanks or BIA\ Fairbanks -- teachers|

Section 13: council\ population -- 57 to 60 people in Anaktuvuk Pass when elected first village council\ Rausch, Bob\ 7 council members needed\ Mekiana, Justus -- council member\ council -- current members\ Morry, Billy -- president of council\ Paneak, Simon -- vice-president\ Mekiana, Homer -- secretary\ council -- meeting in house\ council -- talk about getting post office\ governor\ post office department\ post office -- required college educated person to run it|

Section 14: post office -- Rausch, Bob\ council -- needed before post office could be built\ English language\ Mekiana, Homer\ Paneak, Simon\ Rulland, Frank\ Homer, Mekiana\ education -- length of\ books -- dictionary, Bible, magazines\ Post Office Inspector\ father -- Justus' father read and wrote English\ Mekiana, Homer -- first postmaster|

Section 15: Barrow\ missionary\ Wartes, Bill -- missionary, pilot, teacher\ Eskimos\ father -- learned to read from church in Barrow\ church -- gathered in tent to listen to sermon\ church -- wanted to build church from trees \ construction materials -- transportation\ Hunt Fork -- area from where trees were brought\ chain saw\ Hunt Fork\ 40 miles\ Puvlatuuq\ logs -- hauling\ dog sleds\ Nunamiut\ church -- finished in one spring|

Section 16: Tanana -- teacher\ governor -- schoolhouse\ airstrip -- 1960\ springtime -- skis\ mail planes -- delivery\ ice -- thin\ plane -- pontoon landing after ice goes out\ mail\ landing strip -- shovel, pick axes\ Umiat -- caterpillar\ wages -- shoveling two dollars an hour\ caterpillar\ willows\ plane -- Cessna 180 capable of landing\ Anderson, Jim -- pilot\ Bettles\ strip -- lengthened for DC-3\ DC-3 -- lands with blade for cat|

Section 17: traders -- 1951\ Qalutaq\ Anaktuvuk -- Anaqtuuvik\ O'Connell, Pat\ Fairbanks\ grocery\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ trading\ store -- started by O'Connell\ Paneak, Simon\ groceries -- coffee, sugar, tea\theft -- not a problem\ Anaktuvuk -- Anaqtuuvik\ Mekiana, Homer -- given the store to maintain\ Mounted Police -- looked for O'Connell\ credit -- gave villagers $200.00 credit\ Mekiana, Homer -- died on Christmas Eve 1967\ snowmachines\ wolves -- hunting\ Aguk, Jack|

Section 18: National Park Service\ land -- policy\ land -- traditional use of\ boundaries\ restrictions -- difficulties for Eskimo\ regulations -- do not allow Eskimo people to survive off land\ Anaktuvuk -- Anaqtuuvik\ Qalutagiaq\ Ikiaqpak\ Ernie Pass\ lifestyle -- changes|