Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Angeline Derendoff, Part 1

I interviewed Angeline Derendoff on the evening of Thursday, July 23, 1992. We worked together around a table in the kitchen area of her home in Huslia, Alaska. Although her husband, Richard, is still alive, he is blind and has significant health problems, so he lives with one of their daughters. In this interview, Angeline talks about her family and growing up. Her mother was an especially important person to her, tough, but a good teacher. She also remembers her younger years in Cutoff. Other topics we covered were early stores and storekeepers, how she struggled to get some schooling and finally as an adult made it to about the seventh grade level, and her memories of various missionaries. Angeline has been very lame with one badly deformed leg from the time she was a young child. All of the elders have had to struggle with various problems throughout their lives, but with her disability and other problems, Angeline has had a particularly difficult life. Angeline talked about what it was like to grow up with a disability years ago. One result was that she married at age 27, about ten years later than most young Koyukon women at that time. She talked about her marriage to Richard Derendoff, and how the Episcopal Bishop insisted that anyone living together should either marry formally or break up. Unsure of what she should do, she felt pressured by the situation. At the very end of the tape, Angeline describes the group wedding nearly 50 years ago on August 8 when the Episcopal Bishop, Bishop Bentley, married her and Richard, Edith and Fred Bifelt, and Laura and Peter Mark in a group ceremony at Fred's home in Cutoff.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 93-15-32

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Jul 23, 1992
Narrator(s): Angeline Derendoff
Interviewer(s): Wendy Arundale
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 parents and the early days

2) Her mother and her way of life

3) Growing up around Hughes

4) Struggle for schooling

5) Early experiences with missionaries

6) Her marriage

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: Happy, Celia -- mother\ Isaac, Happy John -- father\ Allakaket -- father\ Dulbi -- mother\ mother -- three children\ sister -- died\ crippled -- six years old\ hard times -- crutches until thirty years old\ Mt. Edgecumbe -- fixed legs\ children -- five|

Section 2: mother -- tough, good teacher\ mother -- raised seven children not her own\ John, Molly\ Little Peter\ Yaska, Butch -- son of\ Yaska, Minnie\ Isaac, John\ Sam, Sophie\ Yaska, Patrick\ Yaska, Joe\ Bifelt, Madeline and Edith\ John, Lucy\ measles epidemic|

Section 3: Huslia\ Attla, George\ Huntington, Jimmy\ Dulbi\ Hog River -- Hogatza River\ Hughes\ Yukon -- summers\ Nulato -- first learning English\ Sackett, Jack\ trading\ Isaac, Happy John -- Hog River\ Hog River John -- built house\ Old Town\ Evans, John -- barging supplies\ Jones, Harry -- first storekeeper|

Section 4: writing -- learning in town\ Almonson, Miss -- teacher\ volunteer help\ Sackett, Jack\ mother -- wanted her to sew instead\ self-teaching -- got to 7th grade\ schoolkids\ Bifelt, Edith\ Vent, Laura\ Vent, Freda|

Section 5: church -- Russian name for\ Catholics\ Episcopalians\ Catholic Bishop -- baptized with Native names\ Nulato -- mother feared priest would steal children\ doctors -- misunderstood also\ Mary Jane -- daughter\ hospital -- Tanana and Mt. Edgecumbe\ resistance -- mother\ Nulato -- church\ Father Ross -- spoke Native language\ baptized -- Hughes\ Episcopal Archdeacon|

Section 6: Bishop Bentley -- married them\ Derendoff, Richard and Angeline\ Bifelt, Fred and Edith\ marriage -- needed each other's help\ husband -- crippled by chipped bone in leg\ sickness -- gangrene\ struggle -- "shacked up," Bishop said they should marry\ Sackett, Jack -- interpreter|