Percy Jackson was interviewed by Bill Schneider and Eileen Devinney on January 28, 2003 in Kiana, Alaska. Lorry Schuerch joins in on part of the interview. In this interview, Percy talks about reindeeer herding, hunting, trapping and living a traditional subsistence lifestyle, learning from elders, and his work history. He also discusses a particular incident when he shot a wolf and advice he got from the elders, changes he has observed in the environment, and things he thinks are important for young people of Kiana to know.
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Growing up with his parents and his father being a reindeer herder
Shooting a wolf when he was a teenager and the advice he got from the elders
Killing his first animal, which was a muskrat
Driving rabbits to capture them
Changes he has observed in the land, animals and weather
His parents, going to school, and his hunting activities
Things he learned from elders, like making packs out of animal skins
His early days of camping at night and what he used for light
His story of the wolf that is in Jim Rearden's book "Alaska Wolf Man." (Lorenz Schuerch Jr. reads the section.)
Teaching skills to young children in the village and especially telling them about the wolf
Changes he has observed in the land, and where the village's name Kiana comes from
His wage work experiences
His family background related to reindeer herding
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
Bill Schneider: Today is January 28th, 2003, and Eileen Devinney is here, I'm Bill Schneider. And we have the pleasure this morning of doing an interview with Percy Jackson. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Bill Schneider: So Percy, thanks a lot for making the time to do this. We were hoping to interview you for a long time. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Okay. Bill Schneider: And last time we were here you weren't feeling so well. So tell us -- tell us a little bit about what you first remember when you were a young kid growing up with your parents. Where were you living and what was life like? Percy Jackson: Oh, mostly reindeer herders. That's the place where I grew up. Bill Schneider: Oh. Percy Jackson: When I was young. Eileen Devinney: When were you born, Percy? Percy Jackson: 1923. Around the bend up here, Squirrel River. Eileen Devinney: Oh, really. Percy Jackson: Reindeers camp, reindeer herder's camp. Bill Schneider: And how long were your parents reindeer herding? Percy Jackson: Quite awhile. Until I start schooling. But most of the time we used -- we used to go up Kittyways, further up, about maybe 12 miles up, Kobuk. And go to that fish camp. Every summer we used to go up there to that fish camp. I had a hard time seining myself. Eileen Devinney: Did you seine by yourself? Percy Jackson: My -- my mom. Eileen Devinney: Oh. Percy Jackson: Pretty weak in those days. Hardly pulled that boat, when my mom hold the net. And I first went to school in Noorvik. I couldn't go to school here, first year. I think we just stayed down there a couple years in Noorvik, and move up here again. We used to have a house way up the old ridge over there. I think we were the last house towards Squirrel River, those days. That's the time I shot that crazy wolf when I was a teenager. Bill Schneider: Oh, you better tell us that story. Percy Jackson: About the wolf? Bill Schneider: Yeah.
Percy Jackson: Yeah, that -- one of the old men was living down here, between here and Noorvik, and the as soon as dog start barking, he went out. He didn't have no gun. He thought there was something there. And here, all of a sudden, that wolf attack him, that crazy wolf. He -- he finally get hold of him and hold him down for quite a while. I think he went -- before he -- before that wolf bite him, he hold him down. Then all of a sudden he wanted to get his knife and let go one of his hand, and that wolf come up and start to bite him. And after that, that wolf come up here. It was nighttime. While I was sleeping, my mom run inside the house and start talking. I heard her, and get up myself. I took my rifle in stormshed and load it up and went out. After that wolf bite two of our dogs already. And I walked down toward our cache and stand there a while. And all of a sudden I start seeing that wolf running. And I aim at that wolf. When he get between them two dogs, I shot it. I thought it was a crazy dog. I didn't even go to it -- went back to bed. And in the morning, that old man get up and check on it. And he said, quot;that's a wolf, black wolf.quot; They told me to skin it. I put rubber gloves on and skin it. That old man told me, we could use that skin, just take the hide off. So that's what they did. Burned that head up. We use the skin. My cousin helped me that time when I skin it, my first cousin. She was up here. She used to live in Noorvik, but she come up here when, while her mother was sick, go help her. So we -- we just burned the -- the wolf skin. So we send the head out when they want it. I think that's all about that wolf. Bill Schneider: For the -- for young people that might not know, could you explain what was wrong with that wolf? Percy Jackson: He had rabies. Yeah, that wolf had rabies. Bill Schneider: Had people had experience with animals with rabies before? Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. They just throw --throw the head away and use the hide. That's what that old man let us do. Bill Schneider: And then what about that person that had been bit by the wolf? Percy Jackson: Oh, they took him to hospital, from down there. They didn't help much though. He died. He got kind of crazy and died from that rabies, I think. If he didn't let his hand go, he'd kill it right there, but he let his hand -- one side of his hands go. I think he was holding him here. Bill Schneider: By the neck? Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Before he bite him. Bill Schneider: Hmm. Percy Jackson: And if them wolves attack you, if you got mittens, just go inside the wolf's mouth and you could kill it that way, too. That's what them old people used to tell me when I was young -- when I started going out. Eileen Devinney: If you put your fist with your mitten inside their mouth? Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Right here. Eileen Devinney: Wow. Percy Jackson: And choke that wolf. Eileen Devinney: Gee. Bill Schneider: Hmm. Percy Jackson: I -- they used to let me take -- told me to carry a short rope with something on the end and let it go around, and that wolf wouldn't go to me. That's what I used to tell these young kids about that, tell them to carry a short rope. And if the wolf start attacks them, tie something on the end and let it go around. Eileen Devinney: And they must not like that motion of that -- Percy Jackson: I think they don't like that noise. Eileen Devinney: Oh. Percy Jackson: When it starts going around. Bill Schneider: What's that called? That -- that thing that you make the motion with? In Inupiaq? Percy Jackson: I don't know. I don't know what they call it. But if you had a little piece of wood on the end. Bill Schneider: Yeah. Yeah. Percy Jackson: It really make lots of noise. Bill Schneider: But there's not a word for that in Inupiaq? Percy Jackson: I don't know. I never heard about it. They used to tell me about those things. Bill Schneider: I've heard that, too. Percy Jackson: Carry a short rope and if a wolf starts to attack you, if you don't have anything, you just lay down on the ground and put your legs then up and down. And they wouldn't go after you. That's what them old people used to tell me. I heard one guy save himself in that way. Eileen Devinney: Oh. Percy Jackson: Just lay down and put his arms and legs up and down. Bill Schneider: I wonder if that's a submissive, or -- or putting one's self more in a vulnerable position with the other animal. Percy Jackson: I -- Bill Schneider: Sometimes dogs are like that, puppies, you know, they'll roll over on their back -- Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Bill Schneider: -- if a bigger dog#133; Percy Jackson: Even when you put the dead caribous with legs up, them animals wouldn't touch that thing. Even ravens wouldn't touch it. Bill Schneider: Oh. Hmm. Percy Jackson: That's what I used to do when I was hunting, when I got little meat, caribou, just leave them that way. What I cut up just put them in the middle and put those on the sides. And the wolf wouldn't touch those. Eileen Devinney: How long could you leave them out like that and not have them touched? Percy Jackson: Long time. Eileen Devinney: Hmm.
Bill Schneider: I wanted to ask you about the first game that you killed. Percy Jackson: Let's see. Must be a muskrat. Bill Schneider: Tell us about that. Percy Jackson: Yeah. When I was kid, they -- 'cause we don't have .22s that time. They gave me a shotgun. Took some of those pellets out, leave few of them and then shoot the shotgun. That's how I start hunting muskrat. Eileen Devinney: Were there a lot of muskrat around here at that time? Percy Jackson: Yes, there was. When I was a kid, there was lots. Eileen Devinney: Is it different now? Percy Jackson: I -- I heard they start coming back again. There was hardly any. I heard there's lots of them that's got house right now. Bill Schneider: When you brought that muskrat home, what did your parents do? Percy Jackson: She was real -- my mom was real glad about it. She skinned it and hang the meat up, for half dried. Bill Schneider: Did she give that meat to anyone? Percy Jackson: No. I think my mother and my dad eat it up. Bill Schneider: Ah. Percy Jackson: Because we were only ones that's in the camp.
Bill Schneider: Well, let's talk about the rabbits, and driving rabbits. Percy Jackson: Yeah. We -- that's what we used to do long time ago, drive rabbits. Bill Schneider: Uh-hum. Percy Jackson: When there's a narrow place in those willows. Bill Schneider: Uh-hum. Percy Jackson: Some old people used to put net there, hang the net straight across, and hide behind the net there. And lots of guys would drive them down to that, toward the net. Every time when that rabbit hit the net, they just run over and grab it and pull the heart out. It's easy to pull that heart, if you know how to do it. Before they start hollering, they used to do that. Cause when they heard that rabbit holler, them rabbits wouldn't go there. They would go in different direction. Bill Schneider: Hmm. Percy Jackson: Lots of fun driving rabbits. Only a few guys used that net. Us, we use rifle. Take two or three guys way on the end and let them shoot. After we drive rabbits, we used to race home. And when you're last one, you pick lots of rabbits. Load up with rabbits, what they drop. Bill Schneider: Oh.
Bill Schneider: Well, you've probably seen a lot of changes here. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Lots of changes. Bill Schneider: Could you talk about some of those? Percy Jackson: Even with ptarmigan, you could do that like rabbit. Put the net, hang it up, and drive them ptarmigan to that -- toward the net. And when they get close to that, they just go to them and let them fly and get to that net. That's what my uncle used to teach us. When we were going out, we used to take old net and get ptarmigans with it. Bill Schneider: We were talking last night about changes in the land -- Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Bill Schneider: -- and the animals. Could you talk about some of the things you've observed. Percy Jackson: What, animals? Bill Schneider: Animals and changes in the environment. From weather or whatever. Percy Jackson: I think the weather is changing that way, it's warming up. Not like when I was young, when I first start hunting. Bill Schneider: Hmm. Percy Jackson: Used to be -- we used to leave here around -- right after Christmas, went out to Noatak and start hunting. And come back last part of March or April. Stay out there. Because there was no caribou at that time. And when you want moose, you got to go to Colville, Colville River. Bill Schneider: And you made that trip? Percy Jackson: No. Just my dad before I start hunting, before I start following him. That Colville is a long ways from here. Bill Schneider: Yeah, it sure is.
Bill Schneider: Tell us about your father. He must have been quite a hunter. Percy Jackson: Oh, he -- he was a reindeer herder when he first started. Bill Schneider: Uh-hum. I -- Percy Jackson: That's the only way he could make money, reindeer herding. Bill Schneider: How did he get into reindeer herding? Percy Jackson: Because there was hardly any men to go after reindeers. Bill Schneider: Uh-huh. Percy Jackson: They got quite a few reindeers back when I was a kid. We just keep moving around when I was a kid, move our camps different places. Eileen Devinney: Did you have a big family? Percy Jackson: Yeah. Bill Schneider: One of the things that's always interested me about reindeer herders is, is how the women had to keep up with the herds. How did your mom do? Percy Jackson: She was doing good. I hardly remember it when I was in reindeer herd on the camps. Bill Schneider: Yeah. Percy Jackson: I was too young to remember. Bill Schneider: I'm picking up a little bit of this noise here. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Bill Schneider: So you were too young to remember that? Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Bill Schneider: And then you said you did some schooling, huh? Percy Jackson: Yeah. Not too much, though. I just went up to 6th grade. Bill Schneider: Is that here or in Noorvik? Percy Jackson: Here. Bill Schneider: Uh-hum. Percy Jackson: They want to send me Outside, but I told them I would rather hunt. And start hunting. Toward Noatak. When I first start hunting I think I was about 17 year old. I was sorry why I quit schooling. Bill Schneider: You were sorry? Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Bill Schneider: Why is that? Percy Jackson: Because I can't fill papers. But I know how to live out in the country. Bill Schneider: Who taught you? Percy Jackson: There was an old man with us those years. When I first start setting traps in fall time, in November, he took me out without bedding, 15 or 20 below, just with dogs and dog meat. I was kind of worried, I don't have no bedding. Finally, he found a place to camp, so we stopped there and make a camp. It was warm. It's not cold, even though it's 15 or 20 below, just sleep like that. Eileen Devinney: Did you make a little shelter or -- Percy Jackson: Yeah. A little shelter, with trees. Eileen Devinney: Uh-hum. Percy Jackson: And put that big fire in the middle. That's the way we sleep. But when you go inside the snow, that's the warmest place to stay when you don't have beddings. Eileen Devinney: Did you sleep right on the snow or did you -- Percy Jackson: Inside. Eileen Devinney: -- sleep on branches? Percy Jackson: Inside the snow. That's a warm place to stay. Bill Schneider: What was that old man's name? Percy Jackson: Richard Glover. We see his picture last night here, Frank Glover. Bill Schneider: Frank or Richard? Percy Jackson: Frank was here . The one I talk about is Richard. I think my dad's uncle. Bill Schneider: What else did he teach you? Percy Jackson: How to set traps and -- and in summertime, he showed me how to set a trap on marmots with rocks. Once you learn it, it is easy. Bill Schneider: Is that like a deadfall? Percy Jackson: Oh, make a little frame on bottom, make it flat, and put a rock on top, just like a trap, and put something in the middle there. When he touch that thing, that thing would fall down on that marmot. But if you make it shallow, that thing would come out. Bill Schneider: Hmm. Percy Jackson: Got to make it kind of deep so he won't push up. Them marmots are strong when they -- when you are trying to pull them. I think I'm the only one that knows how to set a rock trap now. Everybody else is gone. Even the Kobuk people, they never teach them about that. They want to learn right now, but we don't have time to go out.
Bill Schneider: What other things did that old man teach you? Percy Jackson: How to make packs in summertime. When I make those packs by myself, just like they are heavy. But when he showed me how, everything get light. Got to know how to make those pack. Bill Schneider: Can you tell us about those packs, what they look like? Percy Jackson: Oh, we tie them, make -- make them round and tie them, pile them up in the back. Put the heaviest one on top, not in bottom. That's the way they are easy to pack when you put those heaviest one on top. I started going out with them when I was a young -- while I was young, in summertime. Bill Schneider: What were the packs made of? Percy Jackson: Of skins. Bill Schneider: Skins. Percy Jackson: Caribou skins. Bill Schneider: And how did they tie them together? Percy Jackson: After you make rolled up skins first, and kind of tied them a little bit and make them round, put another one on top and another one on top. And when they are real heavy, you got to put one to your forehead and tie it down to your pack. It's easier when you pack them like that. I bet lots of guys never see those yet, when they put that thing out on forehead and tie it to their back. You got to adjust it right, though. Can't make it too tight. That thing always help you when you start getting up. Bill Schneider: What did you use for straps? Percy Jackson: Oh, some kind of -- I forget now what they call. White rope or--. Bill Schneider: Oh. So, would it be made of rope of some sort? Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Make them wide, so they will be easier to pack them. Bill Schneider: Are there more things that that old man -- that you can remember that that old man taught you? Percy Jackson: Yeah. When I -- I'm out alone, I used to go inside the willows where it's thick and sleep there. And when some kind of noise start coming around, I always wake up. He told me not to sleep in open place. I used that in lots of times when I'm out alone, go inside the willows and sleep. Bill Schneider: Hmm. And can you explain why in the -- why you wanted to be in the willows? Percy Jackson: Yeah. If something going after you, you could wake up, hear it. Bill Schneider: Yeah. Percy Jackson: On one time I almost had it, I think. While I was in there sleeping, I start hearing noise. There was something going after me. I hear -- could hear them when they break that wood. Bill Schneider: Uh-hum. Percy Jackson: And when they start getting close, I just loaded up my rifle. I think they heard me and run away.
Bill Schneider: When you were out camping when you were a boy, you were a young man, what did you use for light at night? Percy Jackson: No light, just some fire. When I'm alone, I used to have supper in one place, just when starting dark. Eat there first, and move to another place and sleep. Never stayed that place where I keep the fire on. And that way it's safer when you do that. Bill Schneider: Hmm. Percy Jackson: That's what that old man teach me. Bill Schneider: Boy, you learned a lot from him. Percy Jackson: Yeah. He -- he showed me lots all right. I forget some of them. Bill Schneider: Richard Glover? Percy Jackson: Richard Glover. Yeah. He used to stay -- stay with us.
Bill Schneider: Okay. We're back on. Lorry Schuerch has joined us, and Lorry was mentioning last night about an account in Jim Rearden's book, Alaska's Wolf Man? Lorry Schuerch: Alaska's Wolf -- Wolf Man. Bill Schneider: And you had a section that you wanted to read because it relates to the story that Percy was telling earlier. So why don't you go ahead and read that and then we'll get Percy to give us more detail on it. Lorry Schuerch: Okay. It starts here on this -- on the 30th chapter, according to Rearden's book, it says the normal behavior of wolf encountering a man, I know for one instance when a wolf attacked an Eskimo. I investigated and know that this wolf wasn't fooling. But the facts go beyond that. And it says here, Punyuk, P-U-N-Y-U-K. What was that guy's real name? Percy Jackson: Punikuk Lorry Schuerch: Punikuk. Percy Jackson: Uh-huh. Lorry Schuerch: quot;Punikuk was an Eskimo who lived in Noorvik on the Kobuk River in Arctic Alaska. I was living in Kotzebue 60 miles away at the time he was attacked. Marge Swenson teacher/nurse at Noorvik had a daily radio schedule with Kotzebue. She asked during the schedule for me to come to Noorvik and investigate the attack. I hired a dog team and drove to Noorvik, taking two days for the trip. It was January, it was cold,stormy, and mostly dark, as it is at that time of the year. I arrived four days after Punikuk had been attacked.quot; And just to go on further here, and skip a few deals, he said quot;Punikuk was 63 years old and only a few words of English. His married daughter, who assisted Marge Swenson at the school, acted as an interpreter. Here's how she translated the story: quot;Punikuk was living in the stove-heated tent trapping on a ridge between Kobuk and Selawik Rivers. He had sled dogs tied to the willows near a tent. During the early evening, that far north it gets dark about two, two o'clock at that time of the year. He heard his dogs growling and making a fuss. Stepping outside, Punikuk saw what he took to be one of his dogs running loose in the dark, but the moon and the stars reflected from the snow that gave him an amount of light, he picked a chunk of ice from a pile he kept for melting -- for melt, for cooking and drinking, and tossed it at the dog, ordering it to come. The ice -- when the ice hit the animal, it rushed Punikuk, jumped up with its front feet on his shoulders and bit the top of his head. Of course, Punikuk realized instantly that it was not one of his dogs, both from its behavior and size. It was twice as big of any of his dogs. He was dealing with a wolf.quot; Now, this book goes on to tell about his injuries, and -- and, and eventually dying. Bill Schneider: Right. Lorry Schuerch: And it -- I wonder, Percy, if you know anything about this story, this particular story? Do you remember anything about this attack? Percy Jackson: Yeah, I told them. Bill Schneider: Yeah, we talked about that a little bit. Lorry Schuerch: Uh-hum. It said here that -- it says here, in here someplace that the -- that the wolf was -- was -- had, quot;the trail zigzagged to the village of Kiana, approximately 12 miles from his camp. And that the vil -- that the wolf was killed after eating some of the Malemute puppies. The day after his story, I went to Kiana and the wolf had been skinned. I found a carcass and cut off the head. The animal was an adult in excellent condition, having weighed about 100 pounds. I turned the wolf's head over to Dr. Bauer of the Alaska Native Health Service in Kotzebue and he sent it to a laboratory somewhere.quot; Bill Schneider: Yeah, that we -- I think we have -- I think we have those details. Percy -- Percy gave those. Lorry Schuerch: Uh-hum. Bill Schneider: And then Percy also provided some interesting details about wolf behavior, and how -- how you can defend yourself against wolves.
Bill Schneider: Maybe, Percy, I could ask you -- and feel free, Lorry, as we go along here, if there are additional questions that come up. Maybe I could ask you about teaching skills to young kids. Have you -- have you been an important teacher to -- to some of the young kids here in the village? Percy Jackson: I used to tell them about the wolves. Bill Schneider: Uh-hum. Percy Jackson: Carry a little rope, and they start to attack, just whirl that rope around. Even a short one is good. Bill Schneider: Yeah. Lorry Schuerch: Did Percy say whether or not he was involved in this incident? Bill Schneider: Yeah. Oh yeah. He went into -- he talked about shooting the wolf, yeah. Lorry Schuerch: Yeah. According to this book, the results came out positive for rabies at the -- at the University of Alaska lab, I believe, or wherever they sent it to. Bill Schneider: Yeah. And apparently the man died. Lorry Schuerch: Yes, he did. Bill Schneider: Yeah, which is unfortunate. That must have been before they were able to receive care. Lorry Schuerch: Now Percy -- now Percy, tell me something. When I was young -- when I say quot;youngquot; I was attending the elementary school here in Kiana. I believe that this incident here was prior to that, according to what -- what I've read in here. But do you remember another incident where a wolf came into the old village over there and Dorcas Jackson, it chased her into her qanisaq , and then you went over and -- I think you went over and shot it, but I was pretty young. Is that the same wolf or different? Percy Jackson: That's -- that's the same wolf. That was my mom. Lorry Schuerch: Oh, that was your mom? Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Lorry Schuerch: Hmm. Wow. Percy Jackson: That wolf was going after her and she just went in. Lorry Schuerch: And it ran into the qanisaq door, huh? Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Uh-huh. Lorry Schuerch: It hit the door. Percy Jackson: Yeah. Lorry Schuerch: I remember that part. Percy Jackson: That wolf hit the door. Lorry Schuerch: Yeah. Do you remember what year that was? Percy Jackson: I don't know. Must be in the '30s. Lorry Schuerch: On through -- that was --maybe I just heard -- maybe that was a story that I heard when I was -- that I thought maybe occurred like yesterday when I was at -- I was -- I was pretty young when I heard that story. Percy Jackson: Yeah.
Bill Schneider: Percy, one of the things that we wanted to talk about was changes you've seen in the land. Last night we were talking about the point out here. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Bill Schneider: Have you seen other features of the land and how they've changed? Percy Jackson: Oh, that -- they used to have houses down below, huh. I know there was five houses under this bank here, way out. When I was -- when I was a kid. Lorry Schuerch: And in the '50s, if you remember, down here at the base of the hill at Loren Way, there was Johnny Smith, Teddy Johnson, Irvin Morris, and Loren Black all living down there. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Lorry Schuerch: And there was a little ledge there, which has some since eroded away. That was a big change. And the reason for that erosion is this point going away in front of town called Qaiyaan. And I believe that's where the name Kiana came from. Bill Schneider: Yeah. Lorry Schuerch: If -- and correct me if I'm wrong, the -- there has been a -- I think a misinterpretation of the -- where the village -- where the name Kiana was derived from. Bill Schneider: Let's talk about that this afternoon when we get the group together. Lorry Schuerch: Okay. Okay. Bill Schneider: Yeah. Unless, Percy, do you want to talk about the naming of the place here? Percy Jackson: Which place? Bill Schneider: Kiana. Percy Jackson: I don't know. Bill Schneider: Don't know. Percy Jackson: I seen the white guys when they first come, they wouldn't say Katyaak, that's why they name it Kiana. Lorry Schuerch: Uh-hum. Percy Jackson: That's what I heard anyway. When the miners first start coming around. Lorry Schuerch: Uh-hum. What year were you born, Percy? Percy Jackson: '23. Lorry Schuerch: '23. Uh-hum.
Bill Schneider: And I think that one thing that we should talk about for the young people that might be listening is your going out for work experiences. When did you first leave the area here to go out for wage work? Percy Jackson: First I used to go up Klery Creek when I was young, work up there cutting wood, sink a hole . Bill Schneider: This is on the Koyukuk River? Percy Jackson: Klery Creek. Bill Schneider: Oh, Klery Creek. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Bill Schneider: I'm sorry. Percy Jackson: After that, I start boating for B amp; R. Bill Schneider: Was that down at the bay or was that on -- Percy Jackson: No. A river and a bay. Lorry Schuerch: There was -- that B amp; R was the Bullock amp; Rotman Tug and Barge Company that worked out of Kotzebue that was owned by Jack and Edith Bullock. And that tug -- tug and barge company served the Kobuk River during Percy's days of youth. And it eventually was -- is still in operation under a different name now. Owned by Crowley. Bill Schneider: Can you tell us about working for the miners? Percy Jackson: Yeah. When I first went to miners in Candle -- Bill Schneider: Uh-hum. Percy Jackson: -- I worked 70 cents an hour. But that was big money, though, those days. Maybe about a month they raised me, though, to 76 cents. I started driving Cat. Maybe about 150 a month we used to get that time. That's a big money. You could buy lots of stuff with it. Eileen Devinney: Do you remember about when that was that you did that work? Percy Jackson: When I was -- let's see, I forget the year. Eileen Devinney: Like how old were you? Percy Jackson: I was 20 years old that time when I first went to Candle. Bill Schneider: Were you married that time? Percy Jackson: No. I was single. And there was a whole bunch of us went over there to go work from here and Noorvik. Archie Ferguson was the only one that could fly us over. Bill Schneider: And when did you start working on the tug and barge? Percy Jackson: Let's see. When -- when I was around 17 years old. I started working for Archie Ferguson. And after that, moved to B amp; R. And let's see, in '59, I was on the DEW Line, too, from Kotzebue all the way up to Barter Island. Bill Schneider: Hmm. Percy Jackson: That's a long trip. Bill Schneider: Yeah, it sure is. Now they are dismant -- I'm picking up that noise here, you're clicking. Lorry Schuerch: Okay. Bill Schneider: And now they are dismantling that DEW Line, huh? Yeah. And building other types of defenses. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Bill Schneider: And then when did you go to Fairbanks and work? Percy Jackson: First I went over '61. Bill Schneider: '61? Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. After I joined the union. Bill Schneider: So you've had a -- you've had a lot of experiences. What do you look back at as being the most important or the most enjoyable? Percy Jackson: In '61, there was hardly any jobs over there. I just work about a month and I went back. Bill Schneider: That's pretty neat about that Richard Glover and teaching you those things when you were young. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Bill Schneider: That must have been something you remember with fondness. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Still remember that. Bill Schneider: Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you for taking the time to do this, this morning. Yeah. There's some good information in there. Percy Jackson: And he teach me lots, and I forget some of them. Bill Schneider: Uh-hum. Percy Jackson: And when we're out in the country, in summertime. Bill Schneider: Uh-hum. Percy Jackson: We used to use that water for storage, to keep the meat cool, and fresh. When you put it in gunnysack and put it in water, don't change, stay there for a long time. And when we want fresh meat, just dig it out and get some meat. 'Cause that water is cold. That way you could save lots of meat in summertime. Bill Schneider: Uh-hum. Yeah. Okay. Well, thank you for taking the time to do this. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum.
Eileen Devinney: And I suppose for -- to give some background for everybody, we have a little bit of background on there, and I was thinking maybe we should write down who your parents were, what their names were. Percy Jackson: My parents -- my dad is Frank Jackson and Clara. Eileen Devinney: And were you born in Kiana or out in the country? Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Just around the bend up here at Squirrel River. That's the place reindeer herders were staying there. Bill Schneider: What was that reindeer herding camp called? Percy Jackson: I -- I don't know. They -- Bill Schneider: What was the herd called? Percy Jackson: Kughmiahak (phonetic). They called them Kughmiahak, them reindeer herders. Bill Schneider: But did each -- some of the herds had names, like Deering herd or -- Percy Jackson: I think this one here was Kiana. Bill Schneider: Kiana herd. Eileen Devinney: Do you remember about how many reindeer were in that herd most of the time you were growing up? Percy Jackson: Yeah, there was quite a few. And when -- before they -- the last time when they checked them, there was 12,000 reindeer. Eileen Devinney: Wow. Percy Jackson: And after that, they all disappear. Eileen Devinney: Do they think they joined up with caribou and -- Percy Jackson: Yeah. Them caribou took them away. Eileen Devinney: Yeah, big problem. And then was that -- that was the end of their reindeer herding? Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. That was the end. But the other guy had reindeer down below, though. Eileen Devinney: Down near Noorvik maybe, or -- Percy Jackson: Across from Noorvik. Eileen Devinney: I don't think about this area as much for reindeer as I do places further towards Kotzebue and that, so I was kind of surprised. Percy Jackson: They keep the reindeer at that side, even around Candle area, Kiwalik. Eileen Devinney: Yeah Percy Jackson: Kiwalik. Eileen Devinney: Yeah. Percy Jackson: My wife's brother had a reindeer herding over there, too, in Kiwalik. Eileen Devinney: So when -- when do you suppose was about the last year that people had herds up around this area? Percy Jackson: I couldn't remember. I couldn't remember what year. I know it should be around '60s. Eileen Devinney: And then when -- when did you work on the NANA Museum in Kotzebue? Was that in the '70s? Percy Jackson: Yeah, I think so. Yeah, it's around '70s. Eileen Devinney: That must have been one of the biggest buildings in town at that time. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Yeah, I was working in Fairbanks that summer and toward the fall, around August, they called me from Kotzebue to go work there, in that museum. Here, one guy was lucky, he was going to fall from on top there where there's lots of snow, that snow start moving, he was going down, and all of a sudden he hit the little nail, roofing nail on top. That thing stopped. Eileen Devinney: That would be a long fall. Percy Jackson: Yeah. Eileen Devinney: Did it catch on his clothes and -- Percy Jackson: No. Eileen Devinney: -- he just grabbed -- Percy Jackson: Just with his hands. Eileen Devinney: Oh. Percy Jackson: He said he prayed while he was going down. Eileen Devinney: For something -- Percy Jackson: That little roofing nail stopped him. Eileen Devinney: Gee. I bet he wanted to do work lower to the ground after that. Percy Jackson: Oh, he didn't put safety belt that time. We had to have safety belt when we were up there. Eileen Devinney: For good reason. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Bill Schneider: Okay. Well, thank you very much. Percy Jackson: Uh-hum. Bill Schneider: That was good.