Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
George Ramos, Part 1

George Ramos was interviewed by Bill Schneider and Wayne Howell on February 2, 2002 in Yakutat, Alaska. George was not feeling well when we did the recording and this is detectable in his voice, but he adds valuable perspective on Tlingit history. He is very careful with his information and pays close attention to details. In this first part of a two part interview, George talks about some of the history of the clan in the Yakutat area and his own personal history.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2002-07_PT.1

Project: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Date of Interview: Feb 2, 2002
Narrator(s): George Ramos
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
People Present: Wayne Howell
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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1) Introduction and background

2) Names of clans in the Yakutat area and some background on Yakutat

3) Ships arriving and bringing in work

4) Switching from the old method of fishing to gill netting and the cannery

5) Remembering the first deer in Yakutat

6) Moving to Juneau with his mother

7) Starting school in Juneau and having his tonsils out

8) Other memories of living in Juneau and moving back to Yakutat to live with his uncle

9) Returning to Yakutat

10) Fishing with his uncle, and the changes in Yakutat

11) Men arriving from the outside to work, and the changes in Yakutat

12) Training with his uncle in subsistence

13) Fishing with his uncle, and the process of training a nephew in the Tlingit culture

14) Old-timers telling stories around the campfire, and learning from his uncle

15) Being trained by his uncle, and respecting the animals you hunt

16) Being trained by his uncle in the Tlingit culture

17) Cycle of subsistence after the pupping season and the spirits of the animal

18) Ceremonies and hunting bear

19) Training that he had with his uncle

20) Some of the dangers people have to watch out for

21) Ice packs and the main seal herd

22) Types of ice

23) Wind as a strong factor in the movement of ice

24) Types of boats used when transporting fish to Juneau

25) The route that the men followed to Juneau when they were transporting fish

26) Double-ender boats

27) Seagull egg collecting

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Section 1: Tlingit: Wooch jixoo Eesh yoo xát duwasaakw. Yéil naax áyá xát sítee. Luknax.ádi, aaa. Haa aaní áyú, Aakwé dáx Ltú.aax shooksitán. Áx hídee áyá, Xixchí Hít yooduwasaakw. Aakwé dáx. Aaa, Yaakwdaatx' áyá kuxdzitee.\ Tlingit Names: Dlaa k'agú, Xixchí Shaan\ Raven moiety\ silver salmon\ Yakutat\ Frog House Crest\ Yakutat area -- five tribes\ Windham Island\ Katalla\ Lituya Bay\ tribes -- know area and history of area

Section 2: Coho Clan\ Thunderbird Clan\ Dry Bay area -- Shungukéidee, Lukaax.ádi.Brown Bear Clan -- Teikwéidee\ Tlingit names for the five tribes in the Yakutat area: Shungukéidee, Teikwéidee, Galyáx Kaagwaantáan, Kwáashk'i Kwaan, Gineix Kwaan\ Yakutat\ villages -- spread along the rivers\ Yakutat -- born in\ cannery\ fish -- hauling\ Dry Bay\ ship -- Italo\ Yakutat\ McNeil, Libby\ Baranoff\ Alaska Steamship\ cannery

Section 3: springtime\ Chinese\ work -- cannery\ fishing\ beach games\ Situk\ company -- brought own fishing men\ Yakutat people\ independent fishermen\ company -- wouldn't buy fish\ Juneau\ haul fish in small boats\ Yakutat\ Juneau\ conflict\ pulling up stakes on beach\ fishing -- methods

Section 4: fish -- king salmon\ gill net\ train station\ round house\ gill net rack\ seining -- abandoned\ McNeil, Libby\ load up cases of salmon\ stacked cases\ springtime\ machinery -- bought in\ China bunkhouse\ cannery -- four line\ sand beach\ noise

Section 5: deer\ moose\ Yakutat\ Peterson, Ben -- had a pool hall\ deer -- walking down the street\ Atkinson, Emil -- preacher\ cars -- only 2 in Yakutat\ railroad tracks\ passenger cars\ Situk River\ fish\ gondola\ Lost River\ Juneau -- went with mother

Section 6: Juneau -- lived two years\ Alaska Steamship\ warehouse -- had coal in it\ coal -- sell\ George Brother's Store\ gold mine\ sawmill -- end of South Franklin\ Robert's Rows\ two-sided barge

Section 7: Juneau\ Indian school\ A and B Hall\ totem poles\ Native school\ Douglas\ nurse -- took him to government hospital\ tonsils\ slide

Section 8: mother -- work in cannery\ Juneau\ Angoon\ cannery -- big\ stayed for summer\ July -- end of fishing season\ crabs\ long sticks -- have nail at end to pull up crabs\ starting school\ Welfare Department\ Yakutat\ uncle\ Alaska Steamship -- back to Yakutat\ Native tradition -- raised by uncle

Section 9: cannery\ Yakutat -- still a sleepy little town\ no cars\ roads -- not plowed\ no water\ not much work\ Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) school\ uncle -- had little store\ Situk River\ uncle -- crippled\ fishing -- with uncle\ Anklin\ black sand spit\ river -- Situk run on one side\ uncle -- set net

Section 10: river -- running fast\ wintertime\ Federal Aviation Administration\ uncle -- had dog team\ sand beach -- played on\ cannery -- gave them bent cans\ Yakutat -- build airport\ ships\ machinery\ trucks\ graders\ men -- getting off ship\ marching off the dock\ people -- to build airport

Section 11: uncle\ Non-Commission Officer (NCO)\ Yakutat -- changed completely\ contractors\ planes\ World War II

Section 12: subsistence season\ seven different seasons\ canning fish\ cycle -- repeated itself\ Yakutat Bay\ fish -- hooligan season\ Situk River\ fish -- halibut season\

Section 13: hunting areas\ clans -- history\ creation stories\ teaching nephew\ fox farmers\ Jack Ellis Island -- fox farm\ subsistence circle\ halibut\ dry fish\ sealing season\ Egg Island area -- go every spring\ hunt\ pupping season

Section 14: old hunters\ old-timers -- tell stories\ names\ places\ water -- for tea\ seal -- bring up from beach\ seal -- insides boil in pot\ Situk River\ open fire\ stories -- learning experience\ clans -- history\ training\ uncle\ history of people -- passed on by his uncle

Section 15: hunting\ dangers to watch\ respect for animals\ uncle -- put food into the fire every morning\ belief in the afterworld\ food -- has to be put into fire\ names -- call out names of people you feed\ prayer\ Dry Bay area\ prayer said in Tlingit

Section 16: uncle\ pray to grandfather and uncle\ grandfather -- taught you how to live\ uncle -- trains you\ uncle -- responsible for your safety\ weakling -- if you live with your mother and father\ stories -- about weaklings\ Tlingit -- they belittle you\ training -- very hard\ older boys -- cut wood\ planks for housing\ uncle specializes -- that's what you are trained for\ San Diego Bay\ SEALS\ teach\ patience\ endurance\ physical strength

Section 17: subsistence -- cycle of\ pupping season\ salmon season\ Yakutat\ fish -- sockeye salmon\ fish -- king salmon\ fish -- humpy season\ fish -- coho season\ salmon -- never bothered in the old days\ spirits\ Tlingit culture\ ceremonies -- please the animals\ spiritual animal -- guide you through life\ stories\ steamhouse\ uncle -- did not teach him about ceremonies\ three days

Section 18: imitating cultures\ not comfortable\ ceremonies -- hunt bear\ house -- everything has to be quiet\ hunting bear -- last cycle of subsistence\ bears -- fat\ den\ oil\ bear trap\ put logs up\ bait\ sharp limbs\ rocks on top\ logs -- comes down on bear\ entice bear to come out\ spear bear\ hunting dogs\ spears -- two to four\ bear -- in cave\ Sitka\ ran into bear\ shot bear

Section 19: uncle -- died in 1952\ training\ weekends -- haul wood\ fishing\ hunting\ school\ late coming in\ spring -- fishing halibut would start\ school -- missed lots of\ Mt. Edgecumbe\ age bracket -- two years behind\ wanted to be a soldier\ National Guard\ Sitka\ U.S. Army -- inducted

Section 20: glacier\ spirit -- everything has one\ trees -- full of good luck\ glacier -- dangers in\ Icy Bay\ icebergs\ careful\ current\ whirlpool\ Egg Island\ Osier Island\ Nunatak

Section 21: ice pack\ current -- push ice apart\ old days -- main seal area\ sandy areas\ dance and song composed about story\ missionaries\ totem poles\ forbid to dance\ hunting\ three ways to talk about ice coming off glaciers\ lay down\ move straight out\ pop out underneath glacier\ lay down -- most dangerous one\ Turner Glacier\ small pieces drop off

Section 22: big section falls -- creates waves\  ice -- types of\ face of glacier falls down and stacks up in sections\ roll over -- big iceberg melting\ Native names for two types of ice\ Native name -- it will fall apart on you\ pan ice -- get together and freeze\ current -- hits pan ice, makes it move fast\ current -- pushing hard at end

Section 23: wind -- factor\ wintertime\ hunt in winter -- not many people do\ ice pack\ front -- round with prong sticking out\ paddles -- two types\ long and short paddle\ seal hunting -- use old type of boat\ spearing seals\ canoe -- pull up on flat pan ice\ strong wind -- pushes ice together\ north wind -- come straight down from mountain\ ice pack -- moves fast\ southeast wind -- pushes ice back into the bay\ Yakutat area

Section 24: boats -- types\ Columbia River\ Bristol Bay\ boat -- double ender\ boat -- gas boat\ motor -- inboard\ Dry Bay\ uplift\ swallow water\ magnets\ spark plug\ 40 horsepower\ four-cylinder\ powerful\ Tlingit name -- boats that you fall to the back

Section 25: route followed\ Benson, Willie\ Brown, Frank\ Situk River\ company -- wouldn't buy fish\ Yakutat\ no equipment\ boat -- open boat\ boat -- double ender\ McNeil, Libby McNeil\ Columbia River\ Bristol Bay\ Yakutat\ uncle -- had a double ender

Section 26: center board\ long handle\ handle -- lift it up and lock it down\ keel\ engine\ cabin\ cousin -- had a double ender\ Juneau\ train\ wives -- going to Situk\ chased off train

Section 27: Egg Island\ uncle\ Yakutat\ Memorial Day\ cemetery\ boat -- load up\ head up the Bay\ trolling\ uncle -- learned to operate outboard\ uncle -- took him up to land without trees\ rainy day\ canvas -- stayed underneath\ trees -- none inside the Bay\ rocks -- smooth\ Glacier Bay\ Egg Island\ lower island\ pick eggs\ women -- pick eggs\ hunting\ Egg Island\ pick easy places\ eggs -- put in sweatshirt with belt around it\ eggs -- pick at a section\ late in the season\ eggs -- take load and pile them up on the beach\ five gallon cans\ straw\ eggs -- bring to town