Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Millie Gray

Millie Gray was interviewed on October 10, 1992 by Bill Schneider at her home on the outskirts of Evansville, near Bettles, Alaska. She and her husband have retired. Millie has a real love for history; she has old pictures of her father and grandfather, of her father's boats, of him making the boats, and of her mother. Millie's father, Wilfred Joseph Evans, was a trader on the river. Her mother was the daughter of Tobuk and Tinuk, Kobuk Eskimos from the Alatna area. Millie's stepmother was Katherine Pitka, an Athabascan from Koyukuk Station. Millie's grandfather was also married to a woman from Koyukuk Station. In this interview, Millie talks about her family background, her growing up, and some of the history and people of the Bettles and Evansville area.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 93-15-46

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Oct 10, 1992
Narrator(s): Millie Gray
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

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


1) Her grandfather and his trading post on the Koyukuk River

2) Talks about her father

3) Treighting on the river

4) Her mother and grandmother

5) Growing up quickly with father and new wife

6) Responsibilities as oldest child and householder

7) New start after all the death|

8) Moving out of area and meeting husband

9) Her father's role in the construction of early Bettles Field and Evansville

10) Old timers who used to be at Bettles|

11) The two separate times she lived with her grandmother, Tinuk

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: grandfather -- running trading post\ supplies -- fresh foods, oranges, plums, apples\ Koyukuk -- remote locations\ Evans, John William -- grandfather\ steamer\ gold rush -- good for trading post\ father -- getting supplies from grandfather for his store at Koyukuk Station\ grandfather -- good to kids, sent them stateside for education\ father -- engineering school\ uncles -- Charlie and Richard, teachers\ Seattle-Tacoma Indian School|

Section 2: Evans, Wilfred -- father\ education -- Holy Cross mission, then outside\ music -- alto singer; guitar; trombone\ uncle -- Richard\ trading post -- father running\ Allakaket\ Koyukuk Station\ freighting\ steamer -- from Nenana\ Huslia\ Hughes|

Section 3: work -- hard, long hours\ wood cutting -- ax, sledgehammer, hand saw\ boating -- fun for kids\ big trip at end of summer\ navigating -- treacherous, shallow\ grounding -- always made it through\ story -- father saves Millie from drowning at Koyukuk Station \ boats -- IMP, IMP II, Mud Hen\ boatbuilding -- inboards\ Old Bettles -- Sam Dubin, first visit|

Section 4: Allakaket\ fishing -- seining\ Tobuk, Clara\ grandparents -- Tobuk, Tinuk\ children -- John, Millie, Myrtle (died 1948), Jean\ mother -- died of tuberculosis before Millie knew her\ Tinuk -- grandmother became mother to children of two widowers\ Wilfred\ Tobuk, David -- Wilfred's brother-in-law\ Alatna River\ tuberculosis -- prevalent\ Tanana Hospital\ grandparents -- living with; fishing; play; happiness\ Kobuk Eskimos|

Section 5: Koyukuk Station\ Pitka, Catherine\ brothers and sisters -- half; Andrew, Josephine, Marianne, Gerald, Ralph, Wilfred Jr.\ Andrew -- genius, died of tuberculosis, age 19\ stepmother -- tuberculosis\ Millie -- oldest, raised kids|

Section 6: Fort Yukon\ baker -- Millie sent as at age seventeen\ Peters, Julia\ Salmon, Hanna\ women's auxiliary -- quilting\ singing\ Malcom, Reverend -- Episcopal church\ stepmother -- died, 1947\ Tinuk\ Cora -- Hannah's sister\ sadness -- many deaths|

Section 7: Fort Yukon -- learning about fur work\ mukluks\ slippers\ parkies\ hats\ freighting -- ends with air travel\ Bettles Field -- first big airport\ C-47's\ CAA -- moved all their buildings from Old Bettles\ job -- cook's helper\ Junior -- thirty-six years for the Federal Aviation Administration\ Marian -- secretarial work\ Gerald -- electronics technician\ Josephine -- California, eight kids\ electronics|

Section 8: Fairbanks\ Fox Furs\ husband -- stationed at Ladd Airforce Base\ Albuquerque\ job -- garment industry\ Alaska -- returned, missed the wild food\ Fairbanks -- no work\ Anchorage -- Martin Victor's Fur Shop\ hospital -- housekeeping, twelve years\ certificates -- appreciation\ Ohio\ Anchorage -- nurse's aide\ Nurses Award -- 1989\ Evansville -- retirement|

Section 9: lodge -- hauled logs from South Fork & North of Evansville\ D-4 Cat\ construction work -- repairs, digging\ Bettles Lodge -- father built it for Wien\ Bettles -- father moved there for work\ freighting -- no longer happening\ father -- active, worked up to age seventy|

Section 10: Tyson, Frank\ Smith, Frank & Mary\ Bishop, Frank\ Paulson, Ed\ West, Al\ Johnson\ Whitey\ Allakaket\ medication -- old timers had them\ Anaktuvuk Pass -- founded 1950's\ Tobuk, Jimmy\ Umiat -- oil problem\ Nictune, Oscar\ Nictune, Lucy\ Saqiq, Charlie\ Bessie\ Withrow, Al|

Section 11: first -- as small girl\ second -- teenager|