May Walton was interviewed on February 8, 2018 by Karen Brewster and Susan Georgette at May's home in Selawik, Alaska. In this interview, May talks about living a traditional subsistence lifestyle, spending time at the upriver community of Niliq, hunting and trapping muskrat, processing and selling muskrat furs, the fur trade, and traveling down river on a log raft. She also discusses fishing, eating traditional Native foods, changes in wildlife populations like caribou, ptarmigan hunting, early forms of money, and other families living up the Selawik and Kuugruaq Rivers.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Land Use and Environmental Change, Selawik National Wildlife Refuge Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Feb 8, 2018
Narrator(s): May Walton
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster, Susan Georgette
Transcriber: Nichole Hanshaw
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Personal background and going to school
Teaching the youth about Inupiaq traditions, food, and language
Family members and geneology
Muskrat hunting at Kuugruaq River
Camping upriver, and making a log raft and floating downriver to Selawik
Harvesting and preparing blackfish
More about muskrat hunting with her mother, and her father going caribou hunting
Preparing and trading muskrat skins, trapping and shooting muskrats, and food and food preparation
Traveling on the river and to camp in the summer, and berry picking
Fishing and fishing techniques
The settlement at Niliq, Rotman's store, and people moving away
Other people living and traveling on the Selawik River and at Kuugruaq
Other people living at Niliq, remembering first time seeing a moose, and traveling to various camps
Fall and winter seasonal round
Ptarmigan hunting in the spring
Moving into Selawik, and other people at Kuugruaq
Making money by selling skins and getting jobs
Death of Raymond Brown, and knowledge of traditional navigational skills
People and places up the Selawik River
Year round residents of Kuugruaq
Traditional uses of muskrats, beaver, plants and trees, and seal oil
Use of shade house for drying fish, and early days of fur trading and stores
More about muskrat trapping and hunting, especially under the ice
Waterfowl hunting, and June feast to celebrate harvest
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KAREN BREWSTER: Okay, today is February 8, 2018 and this is Karen Brewster here with May Walton in her home in Selawik, Alaska and Susan Georgette is with us also. And this is an interview for the Selawik National Wildilfe Refuge. Thank you, May.
MAY WALTON: Yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: So to start, can I just ask you about when you were born and where you were born.
MAY WALTON: Mm hm. I born in March 17, 1941 right across from the river from my house.
KAREN BREWSTER: Here in Selawik?
MAY WALTON: That's what mine parents always tell me. And I never go -- I never move from the side where I raised and born.
And I have a big family, but I'm the oldest. I got 4, 5, 6 -- we would be 4, 5 living. We would be all 12 together. But my parents, we don't -- they don't know about the pneumonia or what kind of sick they had in those days.
So we have lose lotta peoples, not only me. So I'm the oldest and I was really having hard time when I lose one of my sisters or brother. And my other sister and I are way far apart, maybe 6 years. And, but I raised -- I start to realize that I'm in camp even though it's cold I don't --
I always remember when we go with dogteam a little -- when dogteam and go someplace. And I just ride. When we get set up the camp, it's not cold to me. We get used to it. Lots of us get used to it.
My mom always make caribou bag for the stuff that are liquid like milk, 'cause the kerosene used to even get white that's how much it was used to get cold.
But today is ju -- We thought it's cold, we change our lives to stove oil light but in those -- when I -- when we stay in camp I learn lotta stuff that I could remember. I don't regret.
I have lotta grandkids and I'm start to show them how to do this and that and they love to.
And I go school when I was 11 years old. They have meeting with my parents and we -- we start to practice from those Rotman's girls in that camp what they call Niliq.
And we don't know what it is, but it -- they try to let us understand and we start to teach them how to say and the meaning what we try to -- what we talk. And we start to pick a little bit.
There's mo -- how many of us that we never go school for long time.
Christmas time we come around, my parents start to leave me. They have meeting and they leave me to my mom's mom.
Boy, the tears were going down every night. Every morning I want to go home to my -- to the camp, but I have to be in school. They said I'm getting too old without school. I was 11 years old I remember. And I get used to it.
I have sister and I'm still living with my grandma. Me and the other boy and my cousin. And we go school. Were next door to school, that was real easy.
And I stayed with my -- maybe '46 or '47, something like that. Or maybe '49, '50, something like that.
I start to have sisters, but I raise up with my grandma and my grandma can't go without me and I -- I -- I go with -- go to camp with her 'cause she was really moving around too trying to gather the Native -- Native food when any time of the season when it come.
So I learn that, and I'm going -- try to follow is what I see and teach my kids and trying to teach them how to eat Native food. And these --
And they love to eat. I raised them while they were babies. Mommas, if you fellas could let your babies smell while they're baby, they really gonna go after for that what they smell. That's what my aana used to say.
And I remember and I start to teach my kids to let them smell what I eat. Sure enough, they like to eat even they don't know what they're gonna eat but they know like them -- to them. And so when I --
This year we have hard time. I never fish. It was too much rain.
One time -- no -- one -- No, I never go seine. We just set 'em up right in front of the house and try to catch some fish. We did, but it rain too much and spoil.
This year we have hard time. No caribou, but we -- I save a little bit for their quaq and eggs in the stomach. That's what they love to eat. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.
MAY WALTON: I -- And after that, I start to tell them through the days my grandma always know. She raise up with -- Even me, she raise up with no clock, just through the sun and the star.
And in those -- In that time, I can't really be much patient to each other or, you know, not really be patient to each when she talk about the months.
But, I remember when I go back and try to remember when I start being Iñupiaq teachers in the year of '70's up to '88, I think.
And so, I start to tell my kids this month is Kusrugaqtuġvik, February. And I -- my grandma always say if that mountain start having -- having no snow when it start getting wet, that means that's a rough time to try to get things. Like might be short of fish, 'cause it's gonna be too hot.
I still remember that. I always watch that mountain up there. When it get really narrow they -- they always know the weather's gonna be hot. That's what my grandma always say, and she sure always really struggle in springtime before it get that hot.
And we have that smoke fire in the shade. And we don't have no plastic, just with branches, grass, and ground. And little bit of mud on top here and there. That's the shade house for -- for our fish.
When you do it good, no -- no dripping. Nice and cool. Cold storage, dig the ground. It never -- it -- it can't --
And she always let us put mud on the top and put little chimney on the side. I can't -- I can't understand why she always let us put a chimney. Maybe not to let the food what she put away maybe -- get -- to let it have air.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Who was your grandma? MAY WALTON: Hannah Hammond
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And then who were your parents?
MAY WALTON: Oh. My parents were -- that's my mom's Lenora Hammond's mom is Hannah and my dad is Art Skin. Which -- which they raise up there where I had the cabin.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Up by the Fish and Wildlife camp? MAY WALTON: Yes. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay.
MAY WALTON: Ii (Yes), that's where I start to realize that I was in camp, too. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh. So that was where your dad's family camped? MAY WALTON: Mm, my -- my dad’s side family.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay, and what's the name of that place? What would you call that place in Iñupiaq? MAY WALTON: They -- there's too many names in there but my dad always say Ivikturuq. Ivikturuq.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And then could you tell me the living brothers and sisters you have, who they are? MAY WALTON: Doris (Davis), Myrna (Ticket), Rhoda (Downey), Wilbur (Skin), Sherman (Skin). Out of 12. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Wow.
KAREN BREWSTER: So your maiden name was Skin? MAY WALTON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Before you got married? MAY WALTON: Uh huh.
And my grandpa used to tell lots of stories. My dad's -- my dad's dad. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Now what would his name be? MAY WALTON: Harry. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Harry Skin? MAY WALTON: Uh huh.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And they were all from Selawik area? MAY WALTON: They were all from Selawik, yeah. And his wife is -- his first wife is Ralph's (Ramoth) mom's sister. So -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Topsy's sister? MAY WALTON: Topsy's -- Topsy's sister, I think. Yeah that way. And Emma (Ramoth) -- Emma and I, they want us to calls like sisters 'cause we raise up where they used to have that camp in that Niliq area, too.
And they say we're the oldest in the families and we have no -- to -- let somebody know what we are. And we raise up like that. We use to, but we hardly see each other’s now. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. MAY WALTON: Unless she call me through phone. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. MAY WALTON: She's getting hard time, too. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Do you -- do you remember muskrat hunting -- MAY WALTON: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: -- when you lived up there? Could you talk about that? MAY WALTON: And when it's muskrat seasoning while -- while we were up there, before I move to my mom, I mean to my aana.
We used -- we always go way behind from the Kuugruaq River, 'cause it always flood. Way back on the land. Where he can hunt most muskrats.
And we go with -- my mom have little canoe, too, small one. Homemade kind.
And my dad, they always go and Skin's -- other Skin's family it's not too far from us we always go camp to Kuugruaq. And -- we -- my mom --
Boy, there was lotta muskrats in those days, and she dry them -- dried them, you know, she dried them fully dry. And for the dogs and for us.
I'm the -- I'm the only child that time. And I always really wanted to have some muskrats, how used to be taste, but I hardly go anywhere.
My -- my grandkids can do it alright. But, it's too much from the village. I had to go camp and try to let them get muskrat.
And after it dry -- she -- the skins, the muskrat meat, dry them. As long as our dogs can eat for tomorrow she make extra foo -- muskrats.
And when we're -- and after springtime while we're doing that we -- we work rafting while it have snow. Put them together, get it ready to go.
When it flood in the lagoon -- she always put them in the lagoon, rafting. SUSAN GEORGETTE: The big logs, to tie together? MAY WALTON: Yes.
The tree that's how -- that's what my old house made of right there, in front. That's where -- when my grand -- grandma died they fixed this one and we start to mom -- mom and them start to live in Selawik, too.
And maybe take you about week and a half to try to go get to Selawik. SUSAN GEORGETTE: With the raft? MAY WALTON: With the raft. SUSAN GEORGETTE: From Kuugruaq? MAY WALTON: From way up there, almost by Rabbit Mountain, just little this side. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh. MAY WALTON: Way past that shelter cabin (Paniqsiġvik).
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And you would go there with dogs? MAY WALTON: Yeah SUSAN GEORGETTE: Before it melted, you'd move from your -- ? MAY WALTON: Mm-hm. Like in April, we always go 'cause the oth -- up river always melt fast and water. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: So, we always have to try to go in Ap -- I know my parents always go in April. And start to get ready for the camp.
When they make tent, they all -- we have -- Even though I won’t use tent right now, I always -- as long as I have money, I buy tent. 'Cause I raise up in -- patched it. I could picture it.
Even my grandma's -- I always say if my grandma was alive I woulda always get her this kind, brand new. And after that it -- it always be too old.
Set the tent up and she -- he start to let us make -- me and mom, we go -- always go branches, while he's fixing that outside tent frame.
And we put branches from the spruce trees. Put -- put the branches up and the top frame, put it up, and start to put 'em ground. So it won’t, when it rain, 'cause I don't know, there's no plastic to cover the tent in those days.
And we always have lotta room to put our stuff around outside.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And that would be on a lake up in Kuugruaq? You'd put up a tent -- MAY WALTON: Way back in the lake. Not on the river side.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Right. Oh. Is there a name of that place that you remember? MAY WALTON: I -- One time we stay by Qiḷġiq. That's the name of the -- we always go stay here and here and there.
And we start to end up in this one 'cause it got those black -- blackfish. What they call them? What can't die and when you -- pull. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. Blackfish. MAY WALTON: Yeah. Blackfish. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: In the lagoon. My dad find that kind and we start to make basket, and put them in the -- I -- I still could picture. I make one -- one -- one time when they try to -- while my boys were all together 'cause I have losed my oldest two boys.
And show them how to do it with tricks. And they love to do it.
And we find that kind and my dad -- I have my own basket to sink it in the hole. And my dad have square one.
And he start getting all kinds of fish for -- for the summer. And when -- when it's getting spring, he dig the ground up to the ice. And mom -- my mom always start to -- we go -- dry them like Buckland's little fish, you know, with sticks.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: The smelt? Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. With sticks? Yeah, dry them?
MAY WALTON: Yeah. Dry them and hang 'em. That's another thing that we always have surviving for -- for us. And -- I always wanted to have that kind. It taste like mud shark (burbot). What they call those mud shark? What they always -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: When my kids and -- and dry them up. When we get here, when it's still high water, they start to use it for dog food. Cook 'em, or us -- me -- I'm the only one. Me and the old lady. Ballot's mom used to stay near by us around here someplace with a little tent. Emma's grandma. His dad's mom.
And we love to eat that kind. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Those blackfish? MAY WALTON: Yeah. Dry them or boil them. They always have good eggs.
And I still remember where I could find it. It's not too far from my -- it's just -- go around. And then there's a little bad slough like, but it doesn't look like a slough. On the right side going up. Not too far.
And go in, there's a open big lake with a beautiful land on it, and we used to have tent -- tent on the top. So, the flood won't get to us and there's -- my dad find lotta lagoon. We could see that lagoon behind -- islands here and there. That's where it have lotta muskrats.
And me and my mom always -- even in springtime after the snow is gone. And put tree for dogs and drag his qayak. And go wait back there. Mom always -- there's no strange animals in those years. Nothing.
I -- I don't know if my dad even always get fox for trapping. Just mink. I play around, play with my dogs. I can't be scared of anything.
I got .22, one shell. When muskrat get by -- just so if my -- not my on my ways mom. I shoot it. If I -- when I -- when -- and I start to use the string to try to get it.
And I always have lotta fun, too. That's what makes me always don't wanna -- don't know about Selawik that much.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And so your mom would sho-- have a .22 also or she would set traps? MAY WALTON: Yeah. She -- she always put trap on the way. And she have .22.
But, I always see her here and there when I go up. It's open -- it's open.
There's no even caribou in those days that I remembered, hardly. 'Cause and -- nothing maybe that's walking around. 'Cause wintertime, my dad always go almost by Huslia some place. It's called Aŋmanauraq or something like that. By the mountains, way up, not too far from Shungnak though, you can see it.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: I know where that is. Yeah. MAY WALTON: Yeah. Yeah. And that's where he always go for a week or more 'til they catch something.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So, caribou or something? MAY WALTON: Yeah. From the other side, not from our side, other side of the mountain.
KAREN BREWSTER: Was he looking for wolves and -- and wolverine, too, or just caribou? MAY WALTON: If they can see it, they can get it alright. But, there's no that kind out that I know. It -- they really start coming -- maybe the older peoples know -- once in a while peoples are lucky to get that kind. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.
MAY WALTON: 'Cause I haven't known that my dad get that -- those animals in those days. But, -- and after that we always start to -- go Selawik. And -- shh -- start going and my mom always go -- hard to stay here in the camp.
When we go back with all that muskrat dried up. You know, in the stretchers, the skin. And trade it to whatever they need for living. For food.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: How many muskrats would they get, do you know? MAY WALTON: Oh. More than hundred if a person is lucky. That's what my dad used to get. Springtime. And --
KAREN BREWSTER: So, a hundred for the whole spring or a hundred per day or -- ? MAY WALTON: No. Every time they go out they get lots.
Maybe over even -- when we're start coming back, when they count it how many gunny sacks they always put maybe 50 on each or put them in gunny sack. And they always trade them to anything what they want to buy from the stores.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And who would they trade with? With Rotman's? MAY WALTON: Ferguson's store and Rotmans. I only know those two stores.
Earlier we have a some kind of name by Seventh Days over there -- by area. We used to go store there.
But, when I start to stay with my aana, I don't know about -- we don't know about money. Even me and Raymond don't know about money, but my grandma start getting little bit of that. She is a sewer.
I -- I help her lotta times and that's how come I like -- I like to sew.
And when I -- when I scrape the caribou, when I never do it good, they're -- my age playing down there in the river. Norwegian and any kind of game they play.
My grandma always, “No.” Can't go out 'til I really get it stretched good. Clean it good. Caribou skin. I sure always work hard. So, when I'm done, no -- we -- I still can't go.
I had to bring some wood inside while the -- my other guy -- job work.
And I don't regret why I raised in this way. I start to live that way. Mostly this year. Woods, go get wood, river water, ice water.
And I -- I'm -- I'm teaching him and he been write a big journal. How many days ago, I read them. Even though he said he's not in school, he learn lots. Subsistence way. And I'm happy with that.
And he sure wanna go school, but he never get really started last summer that good. He try to stay with his mom. Get too late and -- but maybe I can try him someplace.
KAREN BREWSTER: So, when you used to get the muskrat, your mom set traps? What kind -- what -- MAY WALTON: Oh. Oh. Little traps. Number one or small one's that muskrat can -- that one and when we’re going home we take them off. 'Cause -- 'cause the water always go high, low, high, low, like that.
And sometimes it always have ice. So, when the wind might blow the ice and cover. And that's -- but I never seen no other animal.
But, one time when my dad go someplace hunt -- to hunt, they never missed a night, that way. They really struggling. We always hear gun shots here and there.
But, my dad have lotta traps, I know. Trying to save his shells. To stay that long. 'Til the ice break.
And they don't play around with the gun shells. And that's how I -- I always see him.
And my mom always have one .22 what -- what can put this -- I never learn that one though. I -- I -- I got all automatic guns right now. I never learn this one how to use it.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Like a pump? KAREN BREWSTER: Pump action?
MAY WALTON: Yeah. That pump action. I never learn it up to today. I'm scared with it. It might shoot. And that's one thing that I never learn in the guns.
And so, one time he been get otter. He bring otter and I start to even scared with it. First time I see it.
And my dad been know they're edible. And my mom always take lots of beans when she -- when she can buy and bring it to camp. And she always make beans. That's why -- what mostly -- mostly like store buy food that I eat. Rice.
What I -- there's no -- that -- I -- I -- I never think that I was -- because we don't know about the food, you know, what that -- they still eating today. The juice.
My mom always make -- bring some -- how many apples. No. not apples. Yeah, apples, too, but oranges. Once in a while, we had some.
She saved the peel. And when -- and maybe like when we eat two of them. In off and on -- she cut it up, put it in a glass, put little bit of water, maybe. Make juice out of orange juice peel.
Put little bit sugar. Plus she always save it for -- to make cranberry sauce. Dice it and she mix it with it. I always wanted to have that kind once in a while.
And lot -- lots. And after that, when we go from -- when we go from Kuugruaq with the raft, it takes us long time to get to Selawik. Mostly when the wind is not --
When we have to face the wind, we stop some place. You know how bad it always be waves when it -- have -- have high -- high water and the current. And -- So, what -- what like -- what more do I was gonna say, I forget.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Didn't you spend the summer in Selawik, and then go back up, or what did you do after you got back on your raft? MAY WALTON: Oh. Okay. We -- we have no nothing to do in Selawik like -- And my mom -- my grandma have camp back here where I had the camp with the big tower. Maybe about 7 minute ride with boat. You know where that is?
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Right. And what do you call that place? MAY WALTON: Tiŋmiaq. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Mm-hm. I know where you mean. Yeah.
MAY WALTON: Yeah. And more further back inside the Fish River. Fish River was not that crowded with willows, it was open. Here and there little bit of willows.
We always -- I don't know how to -- I don't know how to say that the current always be too strong and we always have one dog.
And my grandma always tell us to Uqumaq (sp?). I don't know what's that.
Drag the boat, you go down to the ground and there'll be p -- one in the boat driving it and drag the boat through that rope.
As long as we're not rowing, we -- we sure always have lotta fun with that. And it was beach. Some places it have nice good beach and it's not that wide.
So, my mom -- my grandma always stay -- I know where it is, but you can't even ss -- through -- see through.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: On Fish River now? MAY WALTON: Yeah. Fish River SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: In summertime, we -- they go back here to try to get close where they can try to get rhubarbs. All kinds of berries when they ripe. 'Cause it's too far from here to look. You know there's around here, but my mom she had shown me that when somebody know the land or the ground, what it have, the guy -- the person will go after it.
Don't you bother that land when you have seen these other peoples they're trying to gather food. You can find your own and you will find the spot. And that's how I am. I don't like to bother, you know, when somebody find -- find something that what have. My grandma always tell us that.
So, I -- even though there's lotta berries, that one always stop there, too. It's no good to -- it's no good to try to get from somebody's spot. They might come, too.
And we always spend our sum -- spring right there in Tiŋmiaq 'cause it got fish, berries across the river, all kinds. Where you -- when you know where to go.
And that's how come I like to go back there in that -- those time. Before the school start.
And following that when it's going to falltime, my grandma always go back there where she had the shh -- ready to put. You know, just the frame outside what I just talked while ago with all those branches.
KAREN BREWSTER: For drying the fish? MAY WALTON: Mm. No. To put tent for the fall time. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. Okay.
MAY WALTON: And she always start to -- she'll start showing us how to seine. And with -- with handmade regular net. Sometimes it have real small mesh. Real small one.
When -- when she have nothing on that one she use regular net. But, she like to use that little -- little thing. And she seine and she dry lots of white -- white river fish. Thanksgiving, Christmas time she present her relatives Native food, mukluks. Fall -- any -- when it freeze her only son one was alive. He -- and he always start to get small spruce we -- wood -- and put across.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, a fence in the river. MAY WALTON: Fence. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh yeah, like a -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: They block it. On Fish River, right, you're talking about? MAY WALTON: Uh-huh. Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: And he always left it a little bit open and put another basket behind. For mud shark, there's two ways and for those river -- Fish River fish. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Whitefish. Yeah. MAY WALTON: Whitefish. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Ikkuiyiq, right? MAY WALTON: Ikkuiyiq. Yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: What do you call that -- that fence he made? Where he put the -- MAY WALTON: Sapun. (fish weir) SUSAN GEORGETTE: Sapun.
MAY WALTON: Sapun. Saputit itnaġagigait (They always call them saputit.). They always call them saputit (fish weirs) 'cause it's all blocked the river.
And it have -- like one for like to dip for those whitefish and one to go in. Two for the mud sharks it always have little hole, but it accidently it always have more than -- (interrupted by phone call - "tell him to call later") And she always -- and it's open on the top. And we always try to -- with that thing.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: What do you call the dip net? The big -- do you remember? MAY WALTON: Qal -- Qalu (dip net). SUSAN GEORGETTE: Qalu. MAY WALTON: Yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And what about the mud shark? MAY WALTON: Mud -- Taluyaq (mud shark trap). SUSAN GEORGETTE: Good.
MAY WALTON: And we always try to gaff it. I don't know how my grandma always make that kind. We always have lotta fun. Try to gaff the mud sharks.
And those lots of whitefish always get in there, too. We -- we -- we can't pull it -- it always have sticks on the side to lift it up alright, but it always be too full.
And we always have to dip it. With homemade dip net. I make that kind, one time, small one. Just to let my grandkids see when they wanna try to get blackfish from back here.
It used to have. We -- we quit checking it when I can't go on the ice no more that much.
So, -- and my grandma always tell stories. She was alone. I think her parents is from up river. Up river. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Up Kobuk River?
MAY WALTON: Kobuk. Shungnak. One of them. Her dad. But her mom is from Selawik. Not really from Selawik. She's from -- maybe from up river, too, or Noorvik, one of them, 'cause she got lotta relatives in Noorvik.
And somehow she been go Kotzebue. She always tell us that -- she find -- she find somebody to live with her and after her hu -- (puppy crying). Now, you have to erase it or what?
KAREN BREWSTER: No, we'll just keep going. I paused it. MAY WALTON: Okay.
KAREN BREWSTER: We just had a puppy crisis. That's okay. You wanna talk a little bit more about Niliq? MAY WALTON: Niliq. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: Okay. When we finally get to Niliq, there's always be Rotman's store and lots of campers stop to Niliq. Like a big town. Tent here and there across the river.
There used to be how many hud -- little hut house across there. It was open. It was have no that much or those green willows and all kinds of mixed willows. It was open. Right now it's even scared to go down and try to go walk.
And it have line nice -- lots of aqpik (salmonberry) back there. But, I can't go back there, too. It's too much -- too much willows now.
And when we get there, we start -- they do the service. I noticed that they start to do the service, those old aana's. There’s two sisters were living up there.
And Rotmans always be the first one to get most -- most muskrat -- muskrat. 'Cause he always have lotta food, too, up there.
And after that, they always start going back when the waters go down a little bit. And go back to raft -- rafting -- finally get to Selawik.
And from those girls, I know there's Junie, Sally, and there's only one boy Seymour. But, Seymour hardly play with us when we try to learn how to talk English.
KAREN BREWSTER: Those were the Rotman kids? MAY WALTON: Yeah. And they know -- they -- their aana, Ruth Ballot. Emma's (Ramoth) dad's -- adopted dad's mom. She fully talked Eskimo, and those girls practiced. Their mom is Eskimo, too, though. Cl -- Clara. SUSAN GEORGETTE: From?
MAY WALTON: Clara Rotman. SUSAN GEORGETTE: From where is she? MAY WALTON: Clara? SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. Where is she from? MAY WALTON: I never get that. But, they're from some place, maybe upriver. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. MAY WALTON: That's what I always think 'cause I -- probably upriver.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Up Kobuk River? MAY WALTON: Maybe. Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay.
MAY WALTON: Maybe Clara know about that one 'cause their -- some -- some were -- somehow relative to Clara, their mom. Clara Ballot and Clara Rotman, from their parents they're close relatives, somehow.
And May -- May Bernhardt is the only one left in living up there now. From all those Clara's side and Rotman.
We talk too much maybe in Eskimo he could understand. He probably could say something -- with little bit.
But, we -- we -- we practice from June -- Junie -- Junie Nelson. When she first start to show us how to say "yes" or "no," we don't even know. Me, I don't even know what -- what she's talking about yet. She say -- she start to explain it. We sit down to that old aana and she start to tell us "no" is "no."
You know, with her head. KAREN BREWSTER: Can't move your head?
MAY WALTON: Okay. We get -- we get it right there. And if we like it, she -- I still always remember when I -- And if we like it, like when we want to do something. And she's smiling and like try to let us "yes." And she -- she say, "yeah."
If she -- their -- their best word is "yeah." You -- if you listen to Sally.
But, those two they're home school, I think. I was don't know about the home school, but later on I start to realize that maybe they were having home school in those days 'til they go Selawik. And they start to go school some place.
KAREN BREWSTER: Were they living at Niliq all year round? MAY WALTON: Springtime. And they -- and they --
Later on, I don't know what year though, but, my dad was one of them and Emma's dad, start to make a small little store. You know.
From -- to -- up there, over there by Post Office, that's where's -- that -- the end -- the warehouse, those two warehouse are still sitting there. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.
MAY WALTON: That was built along with that -- it's not that big. But, it's store. And I think Rotmans -- really don't know how they get to Kotzebue. Maybe when -- When it start really start growing, I think they all moved down there. Those two start getting too elderly, too, I think.
And there's no more kids. They all go school. And they moved down there.
And that white store -- When we start to go Kotzebue by boat or by barge, we start to see that white store and it was just built. It's still standing up. When we need to go see the hospital for x-ray -- when they start to get x-rays of too much TB, all over. I'm one of them. And they let us go by barge. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. Was that, what 1960's? MAY WALTON: Maybe earlier. KAREN BREWSTER: '50's?
MAY WALTON: '50's yeah. 'Cause I sure didn't want to go that time by myself. But there was some peoples that are going. I'm -- I'm glad that I go with Vera Skin. That's my cousin's wife. And we're -- we know each other’s.
Vera is from the Mitchell's side. And my dad's nephew is Andrew (Skin). And they have brother's dad. But, this one -- brother’s -- Andrew's and that old lady son is Andrew.
So, we always even have spring close to each other. So, we can -- Vera always come with a bunch of little kids by dogteam. Through the land.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And they were living at Kuu -- they'd be at Kuugrauq? MAY WALTON: Way up. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Or up Selawik River? MAY WALTON: No. Kuugrauq. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Kuugrauq. Okay.
MAY WALTON: Other people's always live in the Selawik River. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: Those little hut, you know, going to your fish -- fish camp -- fishing camp. I still could picture 'em, the persons. One -- ol -- old taata, that first house where you could see, she used to sit out and smile.
And -- and we always have -- One time when Charlie Smith go get us with -- with that kind of boat across there in the -- in front of them. It was still could work. Nobody try to let it be standing up. It could have been still there. The ice mess it up. It's springtime. Boy, we sure thought we were fast.
KAREN BREWSTER: It had a motor? It had an engine? MAY WALTON: Yeah. That house -- that boat across here. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.
MAY WALTON: It's just little bit piece of it now. By Smith, behind Smith. And that was good.
But when they let us go x-ray, we go with a barge. And it was a real small hospital. And we start to don't know much about what they're saying, what they gonna do to us. We don't know nothing. You know, first time we get -- get x-ray.
And they start to -- Mrs. Cheryl -- Cheryl. I think, Bob -- Bob Baker's first wife. She's a nurse. And when she come, she start to test all the kids and mine get really sore. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. The TB test? MAY WALTON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: That's what -- that's how they get -- they let me go down. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.
MAY WALTON: And how many of us? Me, Ellen -- my age. Benjamin from Noorvik. He's our only boy what we used to get together in Niliq. And they're -- he's our same age. Maybe you've heard of that Ben Sampson. Yeah.
And -- we -- and when we’re going back one time we go with Mitchell's boat. Same kind like that boat with house on it and machine. Oh, I -- I -- I -- I -- we get storm bound in the middle of the lake. Ohh, that was scary. Couldn't -- we all -- can't see out those little windows. Hit our boat, some of them throw up. That's how come I don't like to go down to the ocean. After that. Even though my cousin Raymond was still alive and want to take me to Sisualik to pick blue ber -- blackberries. I'm still always be scared to go across.
It always be rough. The driver always be rough. He always remember we are used to oar and go someplace else. And take our grandma just to let her have good ride that. But, we always get really tired though.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Who else lived up Kuugruaq, when you'd go up there then? MAY WALTON: Huh? SUSAN GEORGETTE: So, who else was living up Kuugruaq in the spring when you were -- you'd be up there?
MAY WALTON: The Kuugruaq. The first people's that you can hit by Tuttuġruk. Tuttuġruk's (sp?) land. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Mm-hm. MAY WALTON: I don't know what -- it got name -- I -- But, I can't remember now. But, more down is Napaaqtuqtuugruaq with the grasses and got slough, and you can ride that through the summer and go out through Niliq. They -- have you ride that? SUSAN GEORGETTE: Mm-hm. I know where that is.
MAY WALTON: Yeah. Yeah. That one. In springtime, we use it only when there's high water. There's always be campers. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Where Starbuck's is, right? Is that where the mouth is? MAY WALTON: Huh-uh. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, that's more -- more. MAY WALTON: Between Tuttuġruk's land and Starbuck's. Between some place. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. Okay. I know.
MAY WALTON: And. Starbuck's it used to be St -- Paul Stanley's. Their mom's relative. And his mom used to camp there. More back, not on the river. More back, you know, inside the slough. There's -- there's -- I --
But, my -- my parent's used to stop by 'cause they can see their tent. Just to check them. See if they might need help, 'cause those old people's used to have signal when they need help. And when they have a death, I can remember that they always put white flag. And when they needed a help, they -- they just have to hang something. That's how -- that's how I always see.
And my -- my grandma know about it, too. She always tell us. And she always want us to look through -- through that one big scope. To check the Selawik, sure enough one -- one time we see white flag was going around on -- in our school side. And we go tell our aana that we see a white flag -- something -- something might happen. But, we don't know -- talk English. And we have neighbor with Pauline Ramoth and them -- dad's and their mom.
And my mom go tell them, 'cause my mom was young and do anything. But, I always want to follow her all the time, everywhere she gonna go.
And when I start to do it myself when my grandkids like to follow me, sometimes I don't -- I don't let them. But, I always hurt myself, you know. I know how it is when you want to go with your parents when they're going. So, that's how come I always have full load of boat, even just to my place.
Just so they could -- they could -- but they learn. I teach them. They know. All those girls know how to scale (fish).
Cheyenne (Walton) know how to cut. Mostly this boy here, what I raise, he know everything. He could even hang the fish. He know how to seine.
And I teach all my kids. One time, three of us go only, we didn't wanna to try to look for somebody to help us. We -- we go alone.
My daughter, her companion, and myself. We sit down, we put fire, we sit down, fish start to jump. I got big 175' seine net. And we -- just get little bit even, just for the taste. Yeah.
The oar, I put it down. Oh, my daughter did. Me and -- Elvie (Stoney) start to -- the guy -- start to paddle. He was standing, he almost fall backwards. Fish hit our nets when we were starting -- starting. We never even put the whole net down.
We have to call the Uutauraq people's to go help us. There was too many fish. And two boats come, like Diane (Ramoth) was fishing and Eileen (Foxglove). You get to know her, Eileen Foxglove, what's living now. They had to come with the boat.
And we -- we -- we never even pull it up. It was just half way but -- my -- my grandma always nev -- can't try to pull -- pull -- pull while they were really -- wanted to go out. Just to -- not to let them go out, she always let the end of the rope or pull -- and it got sinker. So, they won't go through. Go under or top.
She always let it -- start to let it die down a little bit. While we're doing that, they come in. One lady, first time she see the -- she was gonna try to make pictures, she fall down even. She see so much of fish.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: That was Fish River? MAY WALTON: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: Just going in you could see -- it don't have to go way up -- just going in past -- there's a little bea -- little beach, and it hav --always have low -- low water in the middle of the summer. You can hear your -- your motor when you go through the middle. It always have a low bar -- shallow part and it have rocks. And we try on that one 'cause it was have -- we see the fish jumping. We thought that was a fun that time. Ooh.
KAREN BREWSTER: So, when you used to go to Niliq, do you remember the other families that were there besides Rotmans? Who else lived there? MAY WALTON: Yeah. Mm. There's always be lotta campers that stop there. Where it have store. Wait. Sometimes they had to put their dogs down and cook dog food for them, too, 'cause there's always be tired -- tired to stay in their raft -- raft. Let them -- my -- my -- that's how my dad and the others. And let them stay in the ground for a while. And when everybody start going, we start back in the rafting.
And when we first see moose coming up, I go inside my mosquito tent. Boy, that was too big and I get scared of it. My mom even scold my dad, "Your gun is too small, you better not try go hit him!" And we were rafting inside the Kuugruaq, just going out from Glenn Russell's -- not even close to it. Maybe shelter cabin some place around there. We were just going down.
Boy, that was big. To me, first animal of moose I see. My dad jump off with his gu -- little kayaq. Go after it. My mom really scold him, "It's too big, your gun is too small." In Eskimo. I could remember that.
My dad shoot two times and he start to wave us, we were still raft. I keep peeking, yet I never go out. I still peeking through the door in the tent.
And it was close that moose. Boy, we -- we tie the rafting and we have small boat, you know just enough to do something. My dad always -- and take it to camp from town. The oar boat. We always have that kinda little boat.
Me momma start to go back there. Ooh, that was a huge, big animal, first time I see. My mom even start to say, "Aatchikaaŋ." First time she see it, too.
And we cut it up, take it down. Every camp -- how many camps we stop there. My mom give them piece of this and that. They're real happy to have something different. And --
Boy, that's a long trip and you know where that Ikpigruk? Nappaqtaq? Yeah. There's always be reindeer herders there. Like William Sheldon and them. Lucille (Kolhok) -- Lucille's -- par-- mom and her brother while they were Light. You know, Lucille Light, and Jacob Light, Ralph's (Ramoth) cousin's -- their mom's sister's kids. They always stay up there in that hill side. And we always stop there. Papa always wanna stop there. And camp with his aunt for a while.
'Cause they already -- they already hunt for muskrat. They all -- just always want to camp with them for while.
And if they need to come more down, they -- he try to help them, too. They have another camp down. I forget the name though. Not too far, but kind of past that island. You can hit that first after you pass Tuttuġruk. No. Before you get to Tuttuġruk's land.
Those are campers. The old people's that used to camp, try to survive with people's. The one's that have no boat. They're gone already. But, they were really struggling and trying to gather some food, whatever they can for the summer.
Some have no bo -- boat. Like we had no motor how many -- how many times. But, I have my own stuff when I start to -- when I get to Oran (Walton), he work here and there. Try to gather.
And, we still have his -- the motor's running. And, we take care of it. When I wanna go someplace, we go. My -- my grandson know the towns, even Delbert. You know, my Delbert, he's in 7th grade. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Mm-hm.
MAY WALTON: He really surprise me one time. We go to my other camp down there. Right across from Ruru's (Mary Ann Clark) camp. Just go in that other ch -- channel instead of main river. Going down on the left side.
Not my -- my camp is not that far. And we -- we go there, go check it. I got tent frame down there and try to --
I haven't been there ever since 1995, I think, after my son drown. I -- I don't know how come I never really wanted to go. I -- I change it back there that's why.
And my momma want -- and mom and them always don't want me to go too far when they start to have all kinds of problems. Momma have funny heart.
So my dad, he was in hospital maybe two years. He got he -- he -- he been have funny bone and we don't know what it is. Maybe it was -- he hurt it before and it heal like that. And they had to take his knee cap off and re -- re -- repair his knee. He got stiff leg just like that racer guy (referring to dog team racer, George Attla, from Huslia).
And we -- there's all kinds of stuff too down there. But, when I start to live by myself everything that I take care of is getting harder, and higher price now.
And when you're only one, it's kind of hard. You know, when I -- I have only how many here living with me, but my grandkids. Right after school, I'll be lotta full house of 'lil -- from the little ones. They always go check, see what I cook.
KAREN BREWSTER: So when you were growing up, where did you spend your winters before you came to school here? MAY WALTON: Upriver.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So after you'd -- so after Fish River and you'd fish there in the fall and freeze-up then you'd go where? MAY WALTON: September, we always go back. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh. You'd row up there or how would you -- ? MAY WALTON: My -- my mom have uncles. His mom's half-brother. And he had that -- Oh. I was gonna talk about it, I forget. That boat across there. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. MAY WALTON: While it's -- he bring us up there. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh. He bring you up there? MAY WALTON: September. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. MAY WALTON: Uh-huh.
KAREN BREWSTER: Up to Kuugruaq? MAY WALTON: Up to Kuugruaq where we wanna stay.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So you'd spend the winter there and -- ? MAY WALTON: And -- and we start to -- After we stay up there, we raft. I know -- I know we raft.
And that, where I had the cabin it used to have hut (sod house) house. And those standing little cache, like Niliq. And the ground kind.
I don't know what happened to it. Maybe my -- maybe my dad's brother use it for wood or -- He never really try to claim it.
And when they start to put allot -- names on the land, my dad been put my name on that one, 'cause he say I spend more time in the falltime -- falltime September, to try to gather fish.
There's lotta fish when you know where to fish. Lotsa siilik (northern pike), and there's lotsa holes where they can dump their fish for the winter. When it's getting cold.
That's how come I -- I -- I keep putting sticks 'cause it's covered with grasses, the old ones, but they're deep down. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh.
MAY WALTON: Somebody might fall. I put sticks in there with the branches. And it's going -- it's going right in front of us.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh. Huh. And so when you lived up there, you'd mainly eat fish and what -- and what else? MAY WALTON: Yup. Muskrat, when there's muskrat.
Mostly, my mom always soak 'em when we have nothing to eat and boil 'em. Or we could eat it like dried fish. She wash 'em in salt water, I think. It always be real tasty. And mostly those two.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Fish and muskrat? MAY WALTON: Yeah. 'Cause there's no other animal like they're getting now.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Did you get birds in the spring? Ducks or geese, ptarmigan? MAY WALTON: Oh yeah, ptarmigan. Springtime.
My mom always what -- what she learn from her mom, she -- she -- she always put net where it have no snow. Where she -- where she think it have lotta cranberries. Springtime.
And she always let me ss -- go sit on the other side. And she always go on the other side and she make a branches trail. So the rabbits -- ptarmigan's go in that curve like corral. And they can walk and go inside.
And when there's lots toward the top, the net go down and catch lotta -- I know how to do that yet.
KAREN BREWSTER: So the net would go down on top of the -- MAY WALTON: On top of the ra -- ptarmigan's. KAREN BREWSTER: Ptarmigan's. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Wow.
MAY WALTON: My mom alwa -- me and mom always start to run and ring their neck or hit 'em. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. MAY WALTON: First time when I gonna do it, boy, I never really do it, I let mom. 'Cause they're too much. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. They're flapping around.
MAY WALTON: Uh. When it start, mostly in the morning or in evening she always go through the sun. When the dark -- she know the ptarmigan's when they start to walk around, and try to look for something to eat.
But, boy, when they get trapped, they're pretty lots of work right there. Lotsa work.
And one thing that I learn, I do it one time, just to show the kids. When we stay back there, when they have no nothing, no ammunition, nothing to try to get stuff and they see ptarmigan's and they're starving. And I showed them with old net, what I can't use no more.
I let -- I let those little kids watch. And he's on the other side. He was not that big, too. And that -- that rock in the middle. Not heavy rock, alright, but when you pull the top it can drop. Drop, too. Not -- not the bottom, the top only. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.
MAY WALTON: And I show them that one, one time. And they always wanna do it once in a while. But too much work for me now when I can't walk good. That -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: You know, mostly inland. I can do things around town, in here alright. After I break my leg, I -- when they -- my -- same time, repair my knee. I sure always have hard time in those big (inaudible) -- what wanted to do. Wanna walk like I used to.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: What year did you see that moose? Do you remember what year your dad got that moose? MAY WALTON: 'Cause maybe -- 'cause maybe that following fall when the school's gonna start. Maybe 1948, '49, something like that.
First time when they want me to go school, I get left behind from my parents when they go for the fall camp. It was not -- I'm not happy alright, but --
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And how long did your parents spend the winters up there? When did they start -- MAY WALTON: Almost every -- when -- when they had to go. My dad like to hunt, and only surviving that I know through the skins. Wintertime they get -- they trap for mink. But I never noticed that he get wolf or fox in those years.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And so they stayed there into the '50s and '60s or not that late? Or did they move back to the village and stay all year? MAY WALTON: When I start to have sisters and when my grandma died in '53. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay.
MAY WALTON: Seems like I have no place to go, and I had two sisters after I lose my brother next to me. They finally start to put this one my mom al -- my dad always say maybe 1949. This house, right there. It was all lumber lu -- not lu -- yeah. Logs. KAREN BREWSTER: Logs.
MAY WALTON: But it start to fall down and he had to take it off. And change the inside, that big log to put the --
When they start to see those ply boards. They -- I don't know where he get those. He start to change the roof with that kind. And we live -- my son born in '61. My oldest boy and my brother, same year. We still live there. They start to give him this house in '80s.
KAREN BREWSTER: So your mother and father stopped going up to Kuugruaq about 1953, somewhere around there? MAY WALTON: Yeah. Uh huh. '53, '54, 'cause my oldest sister's and brother up to river. They had to be in school. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. Okay.
MAY WALTON: And. Sherman (Skin) and my boy are in Headstarts. But my dad soon as it wintertime, he go by himself, with his nephew, Ralph, and his other nephew, Frank, but he pass on of cancer.
He take those young boys to show them how to do it. And that's how Ralph like to hunt.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: I see. Did you used to see people from Ambler or Shungnak come down Kuugruaq or not? Like for muskrat hunting, you'd see people from the Kobuk come over that way or -- ? MAY WALTON: I only notice when those Walton's came. Those Oran's (Walton) family. They were pastoring how many years up there. They probably had no way to go where they wanna go back.
And people's from Shungnak by dogteam while it's -- have little bit a snow here and there. They bring 'em to Kuugruaq so they -- they -- they won't go down with rafting. SUSAN GEORGETTE: So they can float down? MAY WALTON: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay.
MAY WALTON: And I know that they start to stayed with other Skin family. Vera's -- Vera's big family. That's my taata's brother, Ha -- Harry -- Tommy -- Tommy Skin. He got big family.
And, they say more you -- when you go way up you can't see those little old fish line. It used to be open, but I can't even -- maybe here I start to say, you know, from the other side I could see too many willows. Too many willows I can't even recognize where they used to stay.
And we used to just stay little bit more further sometimes or down. Where my dad can get easy rafting. That's what they used to try to find when they go spring camp.
And after they cut it, make rafting. They leave 'em where they gather it. When it have high water they rush and try to take it to the camp, and we always have to dog -- by dog team go to our raft. To the river side.
We start going, but -- I just always enjoy too much 'cause I -- I -- I -- when you're like that, when you're raised in camp, it's hard to try to stay in one place. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: That's what I've been doing for two years. I'm trying to let my adopted be in school. He used to have chronic lun -- lungs, and when he's little bit of have chest cold he used to really be sick in himself.
KAREN BREWSTER: So when you grew up, growing up at camp you're used to moving with every season? Moving around all the time? MAY WALTON: Every ss -- Mm. When I have no sister's and my -- you know, when I was -- I'm alone. I raise up upriver. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: And when my gran -- while my -- when I -- After school, I never really go to sc -- school -- move to my parent's right away. 'Cause I got two sisters, I think.
And when my grandma died, I try to live with my parents, my sister's. Like I'm other person. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. MAY WALTON: 'Cause we never raised together. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: So that was hard. But now they start to realize that I'm their really older sister now. And --
KAREN BREWSTER: You -- you said that for muskrat, you'd put 'em in a sack. And trade -- MAY WALTON: The dried. KAREN BREWSTER: The dried -- the skins? MAY WALTON: Mm.
KAREN BREWSTER: How many muskrat skins for fifty pounds of flour, do you remember? MAY WALTON: Let me see how much that muskrat would be. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. How much you got paid? MAY WALTON: Dollar. Maybe two dollars. Two -- two -- later on it get five, though. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.
MAY WALTON: When there's hardly any hunters, and they want muskrat. And I don't know what year they start -- they quit buy -- when people start getting money, maybe?
And following that, my dad was one of them that they always go cannery some place. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. He went and worked in the cannery? MAY WALTON: Mm. That's when they're -- that's when they start to get monies, I think. The fur buyers move out and Archie (Ferguson) move someplace. And his wife was around here taking care of the store for while.
And that's only -- that thing -- I can -- 'cause we was -- we start to don't know. They say they gonna have show. Baptist -- Baptist been come and wanted to show us about the films, those big projector's with roll. Tape on it. We sure wanna go, me and Raymond, my cousin. What we raise with my grandma.
We don't know how to say the -- my -- don't know how to tell our aana. She don't know about the money and to go in is ten cents. Ten cents to go in.
And my grandma always -- when somebody give 'em something and when they start giving offering for church, you know, she always try to have little bit of money when she's home, when they start getting monies.
We don't know about -- she don't know about the cents. Only by Eskimo. One cents is kaviqsaaq, ten cents is naktuġiŋŋauraq, a little small button hole -- button.
All the stuff we always start to let our aana. And she don't wanna give us. "No, you fellas can't go. You fellas gonna -- " She really -- we sure beg, and we finally get ten cents each. She finally give us.
"Aana is not fun" -- in Eskimo, I's -- Raymond and I. "Aana it's not funny movie, it's about Jesus." 'Cause that's what they was gonna have movie that time, Baptist. When we first saw Baptist maybe in -- maybe '50s. Maybe in '60s, while Ferguson's store was open.
And, I always -- when me and Raymond start working by ourself we -- we still -- he always -- he used to ask me, "You still remember your aana's Iñupiaq monies?" "Yeah." "How about you?" "Little bit."
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So who's Raymond? Raymond who -- Is your? MAY WALTON: Raymond Brown. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Raymond Brown. Okay.
MAY WALTON: The one that they haven't found him, up to today. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. Yeah. MAY WALTON: The one in the ocean. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. MAY WALTON: He was hunting for --
SUSAN GEORGETTE: I never knew he was from Selawik. MAY WALTON: And his -- the other guy I always forget, Sheldon. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Doug -- Doug Sheldon. MAY WALTON: Mm.
KAREN BREWSTER: They were out hunting on Kotzebue Sound? Yeah. MAY WALTON: So --
And in falltime, when we start to stay around here for the winter, there's no sno-go’s or chainsaws of whatev -- what they use like today. Right after school, we always have to walk and go gather foo -- wood. We really always try to go -- go gather woods.
My dad always know through the sun and the -- the moon, too. How'd it -- the season's going to be.
And he, when it -- I remember one though. When he say there's rainbow in the winter not -- wintertime, that means it's gonna be cold. Cold for the winter. I still remem -- always remember that.
KAREN BREWSTER: Is that a rainbow around the sun, you mean, or just a regular rainbow? MAY WALTON: Regular. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
MAY WALTON: It can't last long though, you know, just to show. So those old people's like my grandma and my dad still remember what he heard from his parent's. They always know 'cause they have no calendars that they can tell which -- what day and what month. Only by the season when they get to it.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Did you ever go up Selawik River, like towards David Griest's and up that way? MAY WALTON: Yes. Mm. SUSAN GEORGETTE: When? MAY WALTON: Way up there, you know where (Gene) Heckler's cabin is. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Mm-hm. MAY WALTON: That's where I the farthest -- far as -- I we go.
But we have to stop. Someplace up there it get too shallow, you know. But we could see that old airport. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. MAY WALTON: Old airport. We can see it. So we just go through the -- when Andrew take us up there.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: By boat then or by sno-go? MAY WALTON: We -- we boat up, up 'til we could -- 'til there's shallow. And we walk up where (Gene) Heckler had that cabin. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh.
MAY WALTON: We walk. I don't know how -- but it wasn't too far. It was rocks, we walk. Just to -- just to let us know.
One thing that there might be something up there. That ‘cause that’s -- that's -- he ask my dad, see if he wanna put extended on that land.
I don't know what it have, I been never I -- I never catch that though. But he ask my dad see if he wanna extend it. And my dad said, "No." That it have no river that they can boat up or --
It must be an old mining. So, he -- he -- he -- he never say. He ne -- he -- he don't want to. I don't know why.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: That would have been -- when did you go up there? In the '70s or do you know? MAY WALTON: Yeah. After I get to 70, maybe '73. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay.
MAY WALTON: 'Cause we have -- after I go home from Nome, after my training. For that Bilingual teacher. I stayed in No -- Nome for one month. And they were getting ready, and wait for Vera (Skin) which have training -- cook training in Sitka or Seward. One of 'em. Those cook's go down and us go to Nome.
They wait for us while it have high water in falltime. After af -- before the ice -- before ice. So he take us up, and he tell us all the stories that he know, but, I forget the names.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: The Russell's lived up that way or they -- the Russell's? Irvin Russell -- Irvin Russell, did he live up that way or -- ? MAY WALTON: He's next door to us. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh. Okay. MAY WALTON: He's used -- he used to be on that other side, not in the hillside. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Mm-hm. MAY WALTON: And inside that slough, my cabin that, you know, that little slough. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Mm-hm.
MAY WALTON: There's first grassy, little point. You can -- it used to have hut hou -- it -- it you. Maybe the animals or when they start to have -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. I know where you mean. MAY WALTON: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. Okay.
MAY WALTON: They used to -- even my -- Cleveland's -- those Cleveland's parent's behind -- behind the cabin. It used to have river to those big lakes behind. It used to have river, open nice river. When we -- when we stay up there. My mom and my dad's stepsister used to oar.
And blueberries, though. Lots of blueberries. It used to be open.
And I remember they buried -- what's his name now. They call him only by Ivġgan. They always call him -- I don't know if he have English name, 'cause lots of people's was have nothing in those days. Ivġgan grave there, only one. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.
MAY WALTON: Not too far. But it's in the open land. Cabin, Fish and Game cabin right there. And there's a lake that where plane always land. There's a open little slough like before. It was a river, it grow. Beavers.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: I think I know where you mean, it's -- you can't really get your boat in there anymore. MAY WALTON: No. No more. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. MAY WALTON: Too much beaver's block 'em. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Right.
MAY WALTON: One time me and Oran (Walton) go -- When Ralph (Ramoth) was up there, we visit him, and Ralph wanna give him a ride. We -- we take a ride to those big lakes. Behind. We follow that river, but too much beaver dam.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: What do you call that river? Do you know what the Iñupiaq name for that river? MAY WALTON: I -- I just know it by Ivġgan. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay.
MAY WALTON: 'Cause Ralph just tell us about Ivġgan grave out there. I don't know about that big lake, maybe I was know it alright, but I forget.
That slough, that little slough what we always call Kuutchauraq. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Kuutchauraq. MAY WALTON: Instead of Kuutchiaq. Kuutchiaq, is this way, that big river going up to shelter cabin. Kuutchiaq.
And from Kuutchiaq, is Kuugruaq. And that little slough between us and my house. That one to go in and go upriver. The far-est you could go. Boy, more up is real nice. But too much beaver dam. Too much.
And they -- I asked dad -- and that one behind us, I ask him what is -- what is the really name for the camp. Ivikturuq (meaning “lots of grasses”). 'Cause that lake behind us, there used to be lake. Another open little thing -- another thing and there's other slough that go in on the hillside where you can see.
That -- that was -- that's not far from shelter cabin. So he start to tell me when we take him up there. When we start to have motor, 24, 25 horse alright, but it's fast.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: When did you get a motor? What year did your dad get a motor? MAY WALTON: My mom -- after we start going to school. 9 horse. After he come back from Egegik. I think that's what it's called, the cannery. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. SUSAN GEORGETTE: The cannery. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: I -- I think so. When he come back he buy second hand Mercury, 9 horse. Little motor.
And my brother Wilbur (Skin) know how to drive it, he always drive, he love to. And momma start to practice. Momma start to practice how to do it, and she learn 'em. She always take us anywhere she wanted to go. We always have to pull it for her though.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So, 1950's that would be, yeah? MAY WALTON: Yeah. Uh-huh. Maybe fif -- my aana -- maybe '58? Cause '59, something like that, we first have those little motor and as long as we're not using our -- our arms for the oaring, it's really -- it's really lots. Lots -- we're fast to us.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So, did people live at Kuugruaq year round? Did other families live there? MAY WALTON: Yeah. The oth -- the Russells. KAREN BREWSTER: The Russells. MAY WALTON: Russells, and later on Greist, Stephen Greist. Have that cabin. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Up Kuugruaq? MAY WALTON: Up Kuugruaq. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Mm-hm.
MAY WALTON: And Russells always stayed right there. And they always move someplace where it have little slough to get more mink in wintertime.
That's why they always move around. Not only in one place where they think they can get -- they could get more. That's how my dad always move around and find those little black -- blackfish. Oh, they're huge, they're big. KAREN BREWSTER: That's like twelve inches long? MAY WALTON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: Just like -- almost just like whitefish. Boy, when we bring that aana gunny sack, Christmas-time. Amianiq, Emma's aana, Ruth Ballot. That lady always be real happy to have that kind. They have that kind, but they have to walk miles behind those graves, in that big lake. SUSAN GEORGETTE: At Niliq? KAREN BREWSTER: At Niliq? MAY WALTON: Yeah. In that big lake, way back there. And there's no -- they could dogteam though. By only by dogteam.
One time we don't know about candies. Me and Emma always talk about it and laugh. It's -- KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. MAY WALTON: We don't know about candies. Our uncle Jacob Light been bring us white -- white big soft. We don't even know the name. And he start to tell us, get matches, burn 'em, put stick, and blow it. In Eskimo he talk. And it will -- it gonna get really black. And you could eat 'em.
Me and Emma go up to grave -- graveyard, go around that lake. We go up -- it's a sand. You know, it's got -- not -- not ground, it's sand up there. That graveyard. We dig, we make fire where her -- her mom won't see us smoke.
I -- we build a small fire and we get sticks. While we still don't know what we're eating. And later on we sure always laugh, 'cause we don't know what they are, they were marshmallows.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you would go to Niliq at Christmas-time? MAY WALTON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: You guys would -- MAY WALTON: Get -- try to get closer by dogteam. And from dogteam they -- they stop.
My dad always wanna go to his uncle, to Luke Goode. That's Tuttuġruk’s land. And from there non-stop, go home.
We used to have little hut house way down there. More down than this little old log cabin. More down. It erode too much, it got no more -- it really make lotta changes.
Even our school what we -- I first go school. There was only two rooms for elementary and high school. It's way down maybe half of almost half of the bridge. Our school.
Our river was narrow. And that point down there, it used to have a real nice point. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Where Daniel (Foster) lives? MAY WALTON: Yeah. And it have a good nice beach with those green stt -- plants what always grow.
But we have taata that really go after us. Don't like to let us gets -- go wild too much in falltime, or play with water. That's how come none of us know how to swim. He don't like to let us play with water.
And when we get together we always start to laugh. None of us even try to nick -- or name after him, and he was survive us and he let us get this old now.
And we always start to laugh. One of them say, "Oh, what's his English name now?" Willis Brown. I still remember.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, I had a question about muskrat hunting. MAY WALTON: Oh. KAREN BREWSTER: You -- you trapped and you hunted them to sell them for the trading? MAY WALTON: Mm. Mm-hm. KAREN BREWSTER: Did people hunt muskrat before that, to use for themselves or just for trading? MAY WALTON: That -- that's -- that's what they -- that's what they do. Trade. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.
MAY WALTON: Trade to store. Because there was no -- I don't know about the -- more up, but my aana always say that they don't know about money. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. MAY WALTON: No income.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And so when trading stopped, no more muskrat hunting? People didn't hunt muskrat just for themselves and their dogs? MAY WALTON: Sometimes before they get to bite, you know, they always start to fight each other’s and have lotta holes.
I let my grandson get maybe twelve, ten. So I make 'em in -- inside mitten or outside. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. MAY WALTON: But I -- but he wanted to go spring camp, and there's no shooting not unless you go out from the village, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: And he really wanna go -- go camp down there or back there. He like to hunt beaver. SUSAN GEORGETTE: That's good.
MAY WALTON: Yeah. I try to let him taste -- taste the food that they get. The edible, anything edible, that they can learn to eat it. And what kind, the plants. When they get stuck some place.
And if he -- if he wear boots -- my dad used to use when -- canvas. Maybe how many years canvas, try to keep it without hole. 'Cause there's no other -- other canvas brand new to change it right away.
I always see my dad when we go gather rafting. To try to gather. To -- you know, those lots -- lots of gum like we call 'em napaaqtuq kutchuq (spruce tree gum). Quġgliaq (oozing sap). Not the hard one, the sticky one.
KAREN BREWSTER: Resin? MAY WALTON: Yellow one. KAREN BREWSTER: Sap? MAY WALTON: What's -- what's going down from the tree in springtime, from the winter, when it's getting warm. He always collect that kind. We -- I always collect that kind.
And my dad, when his qayaq have little bit of hole, he sew 'em first. I always be with him all the time. I like to go with my dad. He sew 'em and he melt those few -- few little patch. Just enough to use it like as a glue. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.
MAY WALTON: He put that kind, it get hard, it stick there. It go through the cloth. And he paint it on top. When he have that paint. And I always tell my -- my grandkids about that one.
And my aana, her brother is reindeer herder. And he's not short of like to make akutuq, 'cause her brother like to have that Eskimo ice cream out of fat.
And he always bring 'em in anytime when -- whenever they have. And my aana always make that kind. Maybe every month or something.
And what he -- she's not using, she always take 'em to camp. And me and Raymond always have hammer and crush the little bit of fat.
One time our boat been have -- not really leaking too much, and me and Raymond put it up. And he st -- stuff it with piece of cloth. I don't know what kind of cloth he wear. And he start to put fat car -- reindeer fat into inside, and let it dry maybe. There -- or we put the bo -- oh yeah, no, no more leaking.
And even my -- my dad always use it for his caribou oil. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. MAY WALTON: Or -- they always oil. KAREN BREWSTER: On his mukluks? MAY WALTON: Mukluks. Knee -- knee -- knee mukluks. Caribou.
And they hang 'em outside to let that seal oil smell go away, maybe. I -- ‘cause I always see my mom making mukluk that kind. In wintertime and in springtime, he put some kind of oil. Only oil they can put. There's no other that they think that I know.
I remember that they can't put nothing besides seal oil. And air it for the springtime 'til -- 'til it's time to use.
KAREN BREWSTER: And those were waterproof mukluks? MAY WALTON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: They -- they had fur on them or -- ? MAY WALTON: Uh. Fur inside. I -- I -- I -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And outside? MAY WALTON: That's how I raised with, too. Nothing but mukluk.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, but was the outside no fur? MAY WALTON: The skin inside. Outside. KAREN BREWSTER: Skin outside, fur inside? Yeah. MAY WALTON: Uh.
But you had to clean it, and, you know, stretch it, tan it first, and make mukluk knee. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. MAY WALTON: Knee. If it wanna be longer those seal -- I don't know where they always been get seal the -- scrape it and to -- the skin is black. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.
MAY WALTON: Maybe -- maybe in one of the craft shows, 'cause hardly -- there's one down there, in hospital. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.
MAY WALTON: That st -- stain -- stain -- they put that solution with seal oil, probably. 'Cause that's how come it's oil.
But later on, I know my mom -- when they start to notice that one -- this one would be good for mukluks. What did she start using now? Some kind not -- not seal oil. Some kinda little can. They start to use that kind. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. MAY WALTON: And I raised with that kind, too.
KAREN BREWSTER: And the sap from the tree, was that from a spruce tree? MAY WALTON: Hm-mm. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. MAY WALTON: The one that they use it for the holes for that qayaq. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.
MAY WALTON: My dad even always put some when there's leaking in some place, he put that kind. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. MAY WALTON: And I don't know how long it always last though.
And those all right now -- right now, I'm teaching what I see from my grandma and my -- how to try to shh -- put away the stuff that they have to when they have no freeze -- fridgerator.
Anything that they could put away, they can dig ground up to the ice. And I show them how to make freezer or something that could be fresh or a shade house. And to put away and edible. I try -- I let them try it.
Those -- I don't know what they call those green. Real straight, little green. Soft with black little tip, and it got black rim. SUSAN GEORGETTE: A plant? MAY WALTON: Yeah. It always stay by the water side. I don't know what they call those in English, but I know by Eskimo. KAREN BREWSTER: What's the --
MAY WALTON: Iviiffiiq (aquatic grasses). Iviiffiq. SUSAN GEORGETTE: We'll look that up. MAY WALTON: It's a green. It always be lots down there in the point. Or by Hanshaw's. It's a green, dark green.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. I think I know what you mean. I don't know what it's called. MAY WALTON: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: And then do you eat it? MAY WALTON: They're edible, too. SUSAN GEORGETTE: They're edible? MAY WALTON: Uh.
KAREN BREWSTER: How do you eat them, what do you do with them? MAY WALTON: Just -- just -- But don't take too much. KAREN BREWSTER: The leafs or the -- ? MAY WALTON: The -- the stem like. KAREN BREWSTER: The stem like, okay.
MAY WALTON: It's a straight one. It's not curled (inaudible). No leafs. SUSAN GEORGETTE: I'm wondering if it's horsetails? KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, something --
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Or -- or I know what you mean. MAY WALTON: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: I don't know what those are in English though. I know what you mean.
MAY WALTON: I -- when I practice about the plants, too, I always get the names. I start to forget now when I'm not working in school no more. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: What would you call a shade house, one of those shade houses, what would you call it? MAY WALTON: Atalisaġvik. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Say it once more. MAY WALTON: Atalisaġvik. That means things on -- under of the shade. Atalisaġvik. And that's what they call it.
Some people's call it like in English way, you know, like easy way what they can understand. What they call it now.
There's -- there's lots of other ways that I learn when I go school from all over village, from coastals. And there's curtain, two curtains that we talk about. Not to let see -- so what's in there, like this one right there. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. Yeah. MAY WALTON: It's ukkuaq. KAREN BREWSTER: Ukkuaq. MAY WALTON: Ukkuaq, so some -- they won't see something inside.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. A curtain that covers something, so you don't see behind? MAY WALTON: Uh. And for the window, taaġutaq. Taaġutaq means dark. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. MAY WALTON: Taaġutaq. KAREN BREWSTER: It makes it dark.
MAY WALTON: So I try to let my kids learn on that one, too. Fix that taaġutaq, when I itnaq my grandson always fi -- fix the curtain.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And then your -- like your aana, she -- like when she was young there wasn't Rotman's for selling muskrats? MAY WALTON: No. SUSAN GEORGETTE: So that started sometime, after? MAY WALTON: It started not too long ago, just when I start to remember, you know. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. MAY WALTON: I start to see that store in, up there.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Right, so your aana when she was young there was no store? MAY WALTON: Uh-uh. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. MAY WALTON: Only one. I only know one store. In Seventh Day's area. White guy. I don't know what -- what they always buy though. We don't go -- we don't go after stores in those days, 'cause we don't know about money and what we gonna buy.
KAREN BREWSTER: So did your aana -- did they go muskrat hunting, your aana, before there were stores? Did she talk about that? MAY WALTON: She -- she loved to have -- she -- she -- she always take us way far or sit all day, too. For the muskrat to come.
Sometimes we -- we always got willows, woods. While we're waiting, she always tell us not to make noise alright. But Raymond always get restless, just stay all day for sitting down. We used to have fun, him and I. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. MAY WALTON: That's my mom's sister's son. What raises with our aana, too.
KAREN BREWSTER: So she grew up going out and getting muskrat? MAY WALTON: Mm. KAREN BREWSTER: When your aana was little? MAY WALTON: Maybe there's no even muskrat in those days. That's what my aana always say. They always start to look.
You know, those little ground what muskrat gather in falltime? KAREN BREWSTER: Their little cache? MAY WALTON: On top the ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. MAY WALTON: They had no shells, they only always have to use -- when they have for trap.
They had no -- no stuff that they could try to get. 'Cause my aana used to have homemade everything. When they don't want them -- them -- I only know that they al -- she always be aware from the ravens and that snow -- snow white. Big bird. That owl kind with brown spotted.
When we stay in upriver, she put lotta snares, and there's another one that they -- she always put little hook in here. And when it get rabbit, the rabbit will hang up. I don't know what they call that one. But I -- I could picture it. In Eskimo, it's mapsiqsaalik.
She always -- I never notice that. But later on, his brother give 'em twenty -- twenty, .30, .30, something like that. But it's really big gun, and she can't even use it, I guess.
KAREN BREWSTER: But she would -- she would catch muskrat with a snare at their holes in the ice? MAY WALTON: Trap. KAREN BREWSTER: Trap. MAY WALTON: Just a trap. KAREN BREWSTER: But a homemade trap? MAY WALTON: Mm. No. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
MAY WALTON: The -- his -- her brother start to give 'em those stuff what she -- what he learn to use it, and he share with his sister. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.
MAY WALTON: So we always see aana how to put trap for muskrat. Me and Raymond we -- it always be open even though it get cold.
From that weeds what they gather on top the ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Their little hole, they breathe through? MAY WALTON: Uh-huh. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: Uh. And that's where they always start going. And while we can reach that -- that kind he always start to --
One right after another when she start to see muskrat. No -- no sleeping. She always start to let us start to check the trap all the time.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what time of year would that be? MAY WALTON: Like in May, early.
KAREN BREWSTER: So before you's -- before you shoot them? MAY WALTON: Mm. Before -- 'cause me and Raymond don't know if aana always --
Later on though, while we were really -- maybe like when we're thirteen, fourteen or something like that, she start to use gun, too. She's left side, I know. Yeah.
And Raymond sure always laugh at her when she hit the muskrat one shot. She always -- that's his -- my aana's papa's Eskimo name. And Raymond don't get mad when aana say something. You know, like teaching -- teaching each other’s. Scold him more than me. So now --
KAREN BREWSTER: So when you shoot the muskrat you use a -- a string with a hook to get them? MAY WALTON: When -- when we have no way to get it. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
MAY WALTON: But when she don't wanna really make noise. When she's expecting something that -- I mean, you know, other one might come. She always use her string. She know how to, left hand.
KAREN BREWSTER: And it had a hook on it? MAY WALTON: Uh. Willows. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. MAY WALTON: Willows or straight willow. Once you get hit that one you could take it up. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. MAY WALTON: And she --
And hardly any geese or ducks in those days. Once in a while, my dad always get. When we stay up river, I never notice that they get lots like they always get.
But when they start to moiling -- mole, what they call it no -- no -- changing feathers. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Molting. KAREN BREWSTER: Molting. MAY WALTON: Molting. Yeah.
I notice that one time my aana wanted to go there with her brother, but we have a walking distance. But we stayed on top, by the boat, to try to be a marker, you know.
So we just sit there. It’s open where they go, and my grandma put net while we were waiting there. And those how many guys, old people's, Charlie's fra -- friends, he gather them, take 'em in that lake. They get lots of those.
And one qayaq. I know one qayaq to go around and probably push the molting ducks to those peoples. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.
MAY WALTON: But I never hear 'em shoot. They were really -- really careful on the shells in those days, that I see. No playing around. KAREN BREWSTER: Yup.
MAY WALTON: And maybe -- maybe my dad only have one -- one gun, maybe. There's no big guns that they could take. I only noticed that .30/.30 or something. The biggest maybe, to me. What my dad and my aana have.
So, and they always have that feast on June. Village thankful -- thankful feast. For the peoples to gather when they come back from -- from the camp. What they get, even though it's small, after the rhubarbs or little bit of fish. Go get it in June.
They have a big feast in June, just be thankful. SUSAN GEORGETTE: In the village? MAY WALTON: In the village. And in church, outside.
Whatever peoples can bring from their own. Boy, they used to have lots of good -- And that's how I miss that one for long time. 'Cause I raise with it.
When I get lots of something I always give though to send some to Oran's (Walton) sisters. What they have nothing, like our fish.
I always feel little bit better, but I always wanted to -- even Emma (Ramoth) know, they always get together. Be thankful of what they have, what they have given.
And have church outside of church or inside. And after that they play their game. Their game. We watch them, we always watch 'em.
And I used to be wha -- first -- first with Emma's mom's really nice little oar boat when we have Fourth of July. When they let us, our age.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, you have races? MAY WALTON: Races. When they -- when they let me go down to Dora -- Dora Ballot's. Boy, I know -- I know I'm gonna win. I always -- I make it, first.
KAREN BREWSTER: You won? MAY WALTON: I don't think we have prize. That's all I always remember. I -- I don't think we have prize, just to play game. Just be thankful and have a big day that day. In June, last day of June. Before July, before it get too hot. And --
KAREN BREWSTER: Does that feast have an Iñupiaq name for that feast? MAY WALTON: Springtime feast is -- I only know they always be thankful to that day. They always be -- everybody always be thankful. And I don't know, but I can say it maybe, it's -- they just quya (to be thankful). Quya nothing happened, and get together to the village again and have feast.
And in Christmas, Niġiññavik, you know. Niġiññavik in November. Or December. We always have it two times around here, us.
We -- Emma (Ramoth) sure always talk about that springtime, too. She always fish and start getting fish, like me. We could get maybe if they --
if we have a good president of elders, we could always -- we used to, you know, get together elders, get together and let them tell story. Like how I did what they know, they -- they talk about it. But I always know just listen. And, she sure miss that, too.
We should have -- we should try to let our young peoples know that what they get and be thankful, and share with the peoples. When they never get shared in that time. Emma -- Emma always talk about it. We just can't get started.
KAREN BREWSTER: Susan, did you have any other questions? SUSAN GEORGETTE: I think I’m about done. That was great, May. MAY WALTON: Taikuu.
KAREN BREWSTER: I -- I have one more question. MAY WALTON: Okay. KAREN BREWSTER: That I realize we forgot -- I forgot to ask you what your husband's name was? MAY WALTON: Oran Walton Sr. He's from Noatak. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
MAY WALTON: He never really get to learn our Native foo -- Native eat, what we eat. Can't eat muskrat. Can't eat beaver. Hardly any geese or duck, only when I boil it and bake it a little bit in the oven. Make it tasty.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what year did you get married? MAY WALTON: '72.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Thank you. MAY WALTON: He's from Noatak. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Quyaana. MAY WALTON: Taikuu. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.
MAY WALTON: I get over with it, I was just worry. KAREN BREWSTER: Tavra, ah? SUSAN GEORGETTE: Worry about it -- or -- ? MAY WALTON: I thought you --