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John and Mary Phillip, Part 1
John Phillip, Mary Phillip

John and Mary Phillip were interviewed on November 18, 2004 by William Schneider, Karen Brewster, Louann Rank, and Shawna Williams along with 7th grade students Andy Japhet and Carrie Lake at the Akiak School Library in Akiak, Alaska. In this first part of a two part interview, John Phillip talks about his childhood, living a subsistence lifestyle, and having to travel to find jobs so he could support his family. Mary Phillip talks about her experience as a community health aide, the training and education she received, and relocating to Bethel for work. John and Mary also talk about their family histories, raising their children, and changes they have seen in Akiak.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2004-07-22_PT.1

Project: Akiak Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Nov 18, 2004
Narrator(s): John Phillip, Mary Phillip
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Karen Brewster, Shawna Williams, Louann Rank
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
U.S. Department of Education, Alaska Native Education, Yupiit School District
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

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


1) John Phillip’s birthplace, early childhood, siblings and family camps.

2) John Phillip’s move to and experiences in Akiak, and the changes he has seen in Akiak.

3) John Phillip’s parents, his wife and family, employment and his service in the military.

4) John Phillip’s past employment, the benefits of and types of work he did.

5) John Phillip’s Yup’ik name and Mary Phillip’s Yup’ik name, her parents, her childhood, her schooling, and her mother’s teachings.

6) Mary Phillip’s schooling and employment, both the benefits of and personal struggles with.

7) Mary Phillip’s earning a degree in nursing and her position and experiences as a health aide.

8) Mary Phillip’s memorable and tragic experiences as a health aide.

9) Their relocating to and working in Bethel, and Mary Phillip’s employment and retirement with the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC).

10) Their immediate family and raising their children.

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: (Yup’ik)\ Eek -- location\ fall -- family camp\ Eek -- fall camp\ Kuskokwim River -- spring camp\ youth -- unaware of location\ fall camp -- families\ fish camp -- memory of\ spring camp -- memory of\ brothers -- minimal schooling\ father -- death of\ father -- teachings of\ fish traps -- father\ fish traps -- seasonal\ fish -- pike\ white fish\ father’s death -- effects of\ siblings\ relocation|

Section 2: mother -- married\ marriage -- results of\ relocation -- Akiak\ Akiak -- hesitation to move\ siblings\ Akiak -- youth\ step-father -- teachings of\ camping\ hunting -- beaver\ trap -- setting\ trap -- building\ snares -- beaver\ camp -- setting up\ beavers -- not abundant\ fur trade -- changes in\ fur trade -- results of\ basic needs -- provided for\ people -- basic needs provided for\ food -- limited spoilage of\ fish -- drying process\ meat -- drying process|

Section 3: step-father -- Owens, Eddie \ marriage -- date \ marriage -- age at\ family -- immediate\ raised in Akiak\ employment -- background\ Bristol Bay\ mining\ Nyac\ employment -- away from Akiak and family\ Akiak -- importance of history\ military -- National Guard\ military -- training|

Section 4: Pribilof Islands -- employment\ jobs -- variety of \ rock crusher\ fur seals -- hunting\ seal -- blubber\ seal skinning -- process of\ skins\ carpenter\ painter\ seal hunting -- length of season\ Bristol Bay\ fishing -- seasonal\ income -- good\ fishing -- commercial\ fishing -- historic\ abundance of\ Nyac mine -- work\ dredge -- oil related\ mine -- type of\ dredges -- number of\ dredging -- effects of \ dredge -- type of work\ gold -- plenty of\ Nyac -- camps\ mess hall\ bunk hall\ workers -- most from Akiak\ Nyac -- employment period\ family -- worked at Nyac\ work -- transportation\ airplanes|

Section 5: Phillip, John -- (Yup’ik) name\ name -- meaning of\ name -- father’s name\ Phillip, Mary -- birthplace\ Akiak\ parents -- Steven and Susan Ivan\ Phillip, Mary -- (Yup’ik) name\ Yup’ik name -- origin of\ school -- memory of\ teacher -- English speaking\ Phillip, Mary -- (Yup’ik)\ teacher -- communication with\ schooling -- length of\ sewing -- learning\ mukluk -- sewing\ mother -- teachings of\ mukluk -- skin used\ sewing -- process of\ (Yup’ik)\ mukluk -- soles\ mother -- proud of Mary\ celebration -- today|

Section 6: Nyac -- husband’s employment\ health aide -- interest in\ Bellingham, Washington\ patient\ spinal fusion\ St. Joe’s Hospital\ hospital -- nursing staff\ nurses -- impressionable\ nursing -- interest in\ schooling -- nursing\ work -- nursing assistant\ skills -- limited\ training -- on the job\ nursing -- pursued training\ medical words -- pronunciation of\ classes -- difficulty of\ school -- struggles with\ study -- effort in\ grades -- determined to get high grades\ studying -- gains of\ graduation\ travel -- for training\ teacher -- study incentives\ Elvis Presley\ studying -- efforts of\ goals -- accomplishments of\ grades -- achievements\ jobs -- applying for|

Section 7: degree -- type of\ parents -- discouraged her\ graduation\ Akiak -- returning to\ marriage\ health aide -- volunteer\ hospital -- lack of\ clinic -- lack of\ health aide -- visiting patient’s homes\ health aide -- attend to community\ health aide -- training\ training -- continuous\ communication -- distance of\ doctor -- communication with\ communication -- radio\ communication -- public\ transmitter -- location of\ privacy -- lack of\ telephone -- lack of\ syringe -- made of\ needles -- maintenance of\ needles -- recycling of\ death -- witness of\ life -- saving of|

Section 8: medical case -- story of\ fish camp -- accident\ transportation -- boat\ motor -- ineffective\ (Yup’ik)\ airplane -- medical\ patient -- heart attack\ patient -- death of\ health aide -- experiences of\ equipment -- inadequate\ health aide -- length of employment\ Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) -- starting of\ employment -- YKHC\ Akiak\ doctors -- lack of\ health aide -- location of work\ travel -- work related\ Bethel -- temporary relocation to|

Section 9: children -- number of\ Bethel\ relocation -- purpose of\ employment -- airlines\ Bethel -- length of stay\ work\ Akiak -- return to\ family -- importance of being together\ health aide -- first retirement\ YKHC -- retirement celebration\ YKHC -- return to\ health aide -- shortage of\ work -- health aide\ retirement -- second time|

Section 10: health aide -- employment\ children -- number of\ children -- adoption of\ children -- raising of\ feeding -- bottle\ food\ diapers -- cloth\ clothes -- washing process\ scrub boards\ washing -- hard on hands\ mukluks -- sewing\ parka -- modernization of\ material -- purchasing of\ children -- providing for\ family -- providing for\ family -- never hungry\ clothing -- sewing for family\ trapping -- learning\ self-sufficient\ boat -- wooden\ fish traps\ sleds|