Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Marie and Moses Henzie

Moses and Marie Henzie were interviewed on November 19, 1992 by Wendy Arundale in their recently built log cabin in Allakaket, Alaska, which in the old style, they have left as one large room. A clear finish on the log walls and wooden ceiling give it a gleaming warmth. The afternoon light, which began to fade toward the end of our session, streamed in through a large window where Marie sits to sew. In this interview, Moses talks about his family and growing up, especially how his mother made a living by hunting, fishing, and snaring small game, in particular how she would snare rabbits. In addition to talking about his family and his experience growing up, Moses talks about how he has seen a lot of change from the old days. He talks about the significant impact airplanes have made compared to the old days when people traveled with dogs working so hard to break trail for them on snowshoes. He describes how people hauled mail on the trail from Tanana to Allakaket and eventually up to Wiseman. He also recalls various mail carriers, such as Andy Kockrine, Johnny Smoke, and Edwin Simon who was hired as a young man to break trail for the mail carrier. He also talked about how people hauled freight to Wiseman by dog team on contract. By 1937, there was a tractor used to haul freight before eventually the airplane took over. Toward the end of the tape, Moses talks about the diseases that affected Native people in the Allakaket area in earlier times, especially tuberculosis, unlike many of his relatives and neighbors. The missionary nurse helped a little, but it wasn't until the Public Health nurses began coming in 1948 and they began taking regular chest x-rays that things got better. He describes, too, how his Grandma Cathleen nearly died from measles and how Eva nursed her. In the old days, people put a blanket over the tent to keep it dark when someone had the measles. Moses also talks about how he was one of the last people in Allakaket to keep a large dog team after Snogos (snowmachines) became popular in the late 1960s. He describes how he and Marie had a team of fourteen dogs. But they became ill at spring camp, where they had no medicine for them and they all died. After that, he and Marie got a snowmachine. He notes, though, that the price of gas is so high that people are starting to talk about using dogs again. In November 1992, Moses was paying $165.00 for a 55 gallon drum of gas. Marie talks about her family and her experiences growing up. Much of her conversation focuses on the traditional skills she learned from her family, describing how she learned them, how they are done, and how she works at them today. EDITOR'S NOTE: Since the Koyukon language does not distinguish between masculine and feminine pronouns, many people for whom Koyukon is their first language sometimes use pronouns, such as 'he' and 'she' or 'him' and 'her' interchangeably. In reviewing their tapes, some interviewees were conscious of this speech form and concerned that it might reflect poorly on them or what they had to say. To prevent this problem, we offer this explanation of this local speech practice so that listeners will understand why it occurs.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 93-15-50

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Nov 19, 1992
Narrator(s): Moses Henzie, Marie Henzie
Interviewer(s): Wendy Arundale
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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1) Moses' background and growing up

2) Characters and changes on the mail run

3) Moses growing up without opportunity for school

4) Marie's background and growing up

5) Sewing, crafts, and making snowshoes

6) Preparing caribou leggings and other craft skills

7) Moses' memories of diseases affecting Natives in earlier times

8) Moses' involvement with dog mushing

9) Moses' involvement with fiddling

10) Moses plays a song on his fiddle

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


Section 1: born -- 1930\ old days -- change\ airplanes -- effect\ old days -- travel\ dogs -- breaking trail\ today -- easier\ wood cutting\ mail trail -- Tanana to Allakaket\ trail -- one hundred twenty mile\ Portage Trail\ dog team -- October\ Simon, Edwin -- Huslia\ mail run -- Simon broke trail\ route -- Tanana to Wiseman\ snowshoes -- exercise\ school -- grandchildren\ winter -- hauling meat|

Section 2: Kockrine, Andy -- mail carrier\ Smoke, Johnny -- Stevens Village\ Bettles -- Portage Trail\ Wiseman\ Simon, Edwin -- breaking trail\ Coldfoot\ cabins -- mail trail\ Bettles -- distance\ Wiseman -- freight; low water\ contract hauling\ tractor -- 1937\ freight -- once per month\ airplane -- took over|

Section 3: father -- died when three\ mother -- raised by\ hunting -- no chance for school\ rabbits -- snaring\ animals -- lack of moose, caribou\ school -- missed\ father -- Titus Henzie\ mother -- Elizabeth\ grandfather -- Old Henzie\ grandmother -- Henzie, Julia\ South Fork -- family life, subsistence\ mother -- parents\ Linus\ grandmother -- don't know her name\ Linus -- second wife, Cathleen|

Section 4: born -- September, 1933\ mother -- died while baby\ grandparents -- raised by\ father -- died when child\ parents\ Ned, Francis\ Koyukuk, Walter\ Koyukuk, Jimmy -- father's father\ Koyukuk, Annie -- father's mother\ Ned, Francis -- mother\ Ned, Ned -- mother's father\ Ned, Lilly -- mother's mother\ grandparents -- growing up with Neds|

Section 5: grandmother -- sewing for sale; candlelight\ sewing -- learning from grandmother\ tanning -- learning\ moose -- using everything, brain, sinew\ skins -- making rammage (babiche)\ skins -- snowshoes, sleighs\ snowshoes -- construction\ upbringing -- poor, still poor\ snowshoes -- today nylon replaces hide; not as good\ leggings -- caribou|

Section 6: skin -- dry in wind\ skin -- scraping\ tanning -- soaking in soap water\ skin -- stretching\ sinew -- use in sewing\ slippers -- beaded\ beading\ mittens\ caribou legging boots\ marten -- hat\ fox hat\ parka -- don't make\ fish -- cutting\ grandmother -- sewing with salmon skin\ porcupine quills -- dying\ earings\ moosehides -- tanning still|

Section 7: tuberculosis\ sickness -- lost many people\ public health nurse -- 1948; helped\ missionaries -- little help\ tuberculosis -- chest x-rays\ x-rays -- each year\ diarrhea\ measles -- Huslia, 1940's\ Grandma Cathleen -- nearly died, measles\ Eva -- nurse\ mother -- sickness\ fishcamp\ Grandmother Louise -- grandfather's sister from Huslia\ grandmother -- treatment; had to keep in dark tent|

Section 8: freight -- wood\ dog sledding\ dogs -- last person to use\ Sno-Go -- 1969, everybody got\ dogs -- sickness\ fuel -- $165 for 55 gallon gasoline\ dogs -- Marie rode in sled\ fish -- Marie cut and dried\ dogs -- good, watchdogs too\ fish camp -- Twelve Mile|

Section 9: music -- got interested while small\ violin -- Marie bought it for Moses\ equipment -- amplifier\ guitar|

Section 10: song\ fiddle\ music|