Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

whmap1.gifThis project contains oral history interviews and photographs from Native and non-Native people who live near or have been associated with Katmai National Park and Preserve, located in south-western Alaska. There is much discussion about traditional life and land use practices in the region, and how establishment of the Park effected access, in particular the use of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV). In the early 1990s, the National Park Service funded the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program to conduct interviews with residents of Igiugig, Levelock, Kokhanok and South Naknek about their lives and experiences related to the Park, its establishment, and subsistence living in the area. Interviewers for this project were William Schneider, Don Callaway, Pat Partnow, Mary Jane Nielsen, and Judith Morris.

Historic photographs from the Igiugig Tribal Library can be viewed online in the Igiugig's Past Remembered Collection in the Alaska Digital Archives.

People

Randy Alvarez and Dan Salmon Randy Alvarez

Randy Alvarez is a pilot, hunter, and trapper with family ties to Levelock, Alaska and he lives in Igiugig, Alaska. He has spent time living and working in the Lake Iliamna area since 1968. He moved to the area permanently in 1983. During this time, Randy has seen change in the transportation methods used for subsistence activities and the trail system, the establishment of Katmai National Park and Preserve, and changes in the climate and animal populations. He has worked in the construction... Read More

Dallia Andrew Dallia Andrew

Dallia Gregory Andrew is a Yup'ik elder from Igiugig, Alaska. She grew up as one of thirteen children in her family living at Kukaklek Lake where her  father, Alex Gregory, was a reindeer herder, and on the Kvichak and Alagnak Rivers. In those days, people moved around a lot following the resources by season. She grew up at various camps hunting, fishing, trapping, and berry picking. In later years, Dallia's father went commercial fishing in Bristol Bay to earn money to support the family,... Read More

Fennie Andrew Fennie Andrew

Fennie Andrew was a Yup'ik elder born to Feducia and Zackar Andrew in Newhalen, Alaska in 1921. His father worked as a commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay in the summertime and herded reindeer, and the family lived a subsistence lifestyle based on hunting, trapping, fishing and berrypicking. Fennie moved to Kokhanok in 1946 when he got married, where he made a living by trapping and commercial fishing and was a successful hunter. Fennie Andrew passed away in 2002.

Gregory Andrew Gregory Andrew

Gregory Andrew is a Yup'k elder from Kokhanok, Alaska who grew up in Newhalen, Alaska living a subsistence lifestyle where his family hunted, fished, and trapped to sustain themselves. His mother died when he was eight years old, so he spent a number of years in a childrens' home before returning to Newhalen, until he got married to his wife, Francine, and moved to her home village of Kokhanok. Gregory has been a successful hunter and trapper in the Lake Iliamna region, with extensive... Read More

Michael Andrew, Jr. Michael Andrew, Jr.

Michael Andrew, Jr. was born in 1966 to Dallia and Mike Andrew and grew up in Igiugig, Alaska. Michael has been a hunter and fisherman his entire life, and has witnessed the introduction of snowmachines and All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV's) into the area and become the main form of transportation used by locals getting out onto the land. In addition to living a subsistence lifestyle, Michael has worked a variety of jobs to earn money, including running a bed and breakfast in Igiugig.

Mike Andrew, Sr. Mike Andrew, Sr.

Mike Andrew, Sr. (Temquq) was a Yup'ik elder born to Anna and Alex Panelek in 1935 and raised the Alagank River (also known as Branch River). Prior to moving to the Alagank River, Mike's father had been a reindeer herder at Big Mountain. Mike was the youngest of fifteen children, and was raised to surive by trapping beaver, otter, muskrat and fox, and by hunting moose and caribou.  As a boy, his mother taught him how to use a snare to catch rabbits, which often provided a stable food supply... Read More

Vera Angasan Vera Angasan

Vera Angasan was a Sugpiaq (Alutiiq) elder who was born at Ugashik, Alaska on October 4, 1924 to Joe and Anishia Kie. Vera was orphaned and raised by Pelagia and One-Arm Nick Melgenak in New Savonoski, Alaska. She married Trefon Angasan, Sr. and together they had ten children, whom they took to Kittiwik camp at the mouth of Brooks River to obtain their year's supply of redfish. They also used other parts of Katmai National Park to gather food for the year, from collecting seagull eggs to... Read More

Ted Angasan, Sr. Frederick Theodore (Ted) Angasan, Sr.

Frederick Theodore (Ted) Angasan, Sr. is a Sugpiaq (Alutiiq) elder from South Naknek, Alaska. His parents were Vera and Trefon Angasan, Sr., who was a survivor of the 1912 volcanic eruption of Mt. Katmai after which he and his family fled from their home village of Savonoski to to a location they named New Savonoski, and eventually to South Naknek. Mary Jane Nielsen is Ted's younger sister. Ted... Read More

Ella Mae Charley Ella Mae Charley

Ella Mae Charley is a Yup'ik elder born in Kanakanak who grew up in and attended school in Levelock, Alaska. Ella left the community in 1951 to attend school, and lived around Alaska, including in Glennallen. She returned to Levelock in 1989 to commercial fish, and decided to stay. As a culture bearer, Ella takes pride in sharing her traditional knowledge and skills. George Setuk is her brother.

Evan Chukwak Evan Chukwak

Evan Chukwak was a Yup'ik elder who was born in 1929 in Kokhanok, Alaska and moved to Levelock in 1943. He grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle, and his grandfather was a strong influence who taught him traditional skills and values. His grandfather's stories helped Evan prepare for environmental and cultural changes that were coming in the future, including his prediction of the coming of starvation times. Evan started working at Diamond J Cannery in 1947 and in 1948 started... Read More

Gabby Gregory Gabby Gregory

Gabby Gregory was a Yup'ik elder from Kokhanok, Alaska. His parents were originally from Alagnak and the Branch River area, and moved to Kukaklek, where Gabby was born. In addition to Kukaklek, he has lived at Kvichak River, Igiugig, and Kokhanok. Gabby grew up living a subsistence lifestyle, where he hunted, fished, and trapped. During his lifetime, Gabby has observed changes in the local weather, as well as in transportation methods used by local residents to access their traditionally... Read More

Ted Melgenak Ted Melgenak

Ted Melgenak is a Suqpiag (Alutiiq) elder from South Naknek, Alaska. He was born in 1937, and Pelagia Melgenak (whom he calls "Old Lady Gramma") and her husband, One-Arm Nick Melgenak, adopted him as a toddler after his mother died and raised him as their youngest child. Pelagia and Nick taught Teddy how to live a traditional subsistence lifestyle, which included learning how to hunt, fish, trap and harvest and use plants. Teddy worked for the National Park Service at Katmai National Park... Read More

Evelyn Mike Evelyn Mike

Evelyn Mike was born in 1962 in Kokhanok, Alaska to Katherine and Gregory Mike. Growing up in Kokhanok, Evelyn helped her father with his trapline and lived a subsistence lifestyle where she learned traditional skills, the seasonality of resources, the use of plants, and the importance of hard work. Despite changes in the community, Evelyn continues to rely upon hunting, fishing and berry picking and the life lessons she learned as a child.

Mary Nelson Mary Nelson

Mary Nelson was a Yup'ik elder from Kokhanok, Alaska. She was born in Kokhanok in 1938 to Mike and Mary Newyaka, who were some of the earliest residents in the community. Mary grew up in the village and spend summers at fish camp along the beach below Kokhanok. She lived a subsistence lifestyle relying on fishing, hunting and trapping, learned to prepare food, sew, and take care of a household from her mother, and attended a few years of school in Newhalen. She spent her life continuing the... Read More

John Nelson, Jr. John Nelson, Jr.

John Nelson Jr. was born in Dillingham to Mary Newyaka Nelson around 1960 and grew up in Levelock, Igiugig, and Kokhanok, where he currently resides. He grew up living a subsistence lifestyle where he relied upon fishing, trapping and hunting to make a living. In 1979, John received management training at the Seward Skill Center (now called AVTEC) in Seward, Alaska and since 1977 has served on the village council, including at least three terms as council president.

Anesia Newyaka Anesia Newyaka

Anesia Newyaka is a Yup'k elder from Kokhanok, Alaska. She was born in Newhalen, Alaska in 1941 to Mary and Mike Newyaka, who soon moved their family to Kokhanok. Her father was chief of the village and she grew up living a subsistence lifestyle, with her father doing a lot of trapping, hunting, and fishing, and the women picking berries and preparing food. Anesia worked as a school cook for eighteen years, and is a devout member of the local Russian Orthodox church.

Garith Nielsen Garith Nielsen

Garith Nielsen is from Kokhanok, Alaska and his parents are John and Shirley Hill Nielsen. He grew up living at Reindeer Bay where the family hunted and fished to survive and traveled around the area by boat and dogteam. Eventually, the family moved into Kokhanok, but Garith has remained an active hunter and fisherman. During his lifetime, he has experienced a shift in transportation used in subsistence activities and has observed changes in animal populations.

Mary Jane Nielsen Mary Jane Nielsen

Mary Jane Nielsen is a Sugpiaq (Alutiiq) elder from South Naknek, Alaska. Her parents were Vera and Trefon Angasan, Sr., who was a survivor of the 1912 volcanic eruption of Mt. Katmai after which he and his family fled from their home village of Savonoski to to a location they named New Savonoski, and eventually to South Naknek. As a founding member of the Council of Katmai Descendants, Mary Jane is personally and professionally interested in preserving information and practices of her... Read More

Shirley Nielsen Shirley Nielsen

Shirley Nielsen was born in Iliamna, Alaska and has also lived in Levelock and Kokhanok, Alaska. Her father died in 1945, leaving her mother to care for fourteen children, Shirley being the oldest. The family traveled around the region by dog team to go hunting, trapping and fishing to support themselves. She married John Nielsen in the late 1950's and they lived in various communities in the area, until permanently settling in Kokhanok in 1964. Shirley starting working as the health aide in... Read More

Nick Nowatok Nick Nowatok

Nick Nowatok was a Yup'ik elder who was born in Kaskanak, Alaska in 1912 and grew up in the Kvichak area. He was a reindeer herder and moved to Kokhanok in the 1940s after he got married. He made a living through trapping, commercial fishing, and working a variety of labor jobs. He also supported his family with a subsistence-based lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping for personal use. Nick Nowatak passed away in 2002 at the age of 90.

Steve Nowatok Steve Nowatok

Steve Nowatok is a Yup'ik elder from Kokhanok, Alaska who grew up living a subsistence hunting and fishing lifestyle out on the land, has continued to rely upon his Native traditions throughout his life, and feels it is important that the Native culture is passed on to younger generations.

Mary Ann Olympic Mary Ann Olympic

Mary Ann Olympic was a Yup'ik elder who was born in a reindeer herding camp at Kukaklek Lake in 1931. Her father was a reindeer herder originally from Alagnak who moved to Kukaklek Lake in 1906, and married Mary Ann's mother in 1926. She grew up a subsistence lifestyle, where the family moved around seasonally according to where resources were available. For example, in the springtime her mother would hunt ground squirrels, and in the summer her father hunted brown bear and moose. And she... Read More

Danny Roehl Danny Roehl

Danny Roehl was born in Goose Bay, Alaska near Chekok to Paris Skobia and Charles Roehl. Danny's mother was Athabascan originally from Old Iliamna and he grew up living a subsistence lifestyle of fishing, hunting, trapping and moving around the region to survive. His grandfather ran Roehl's Trading Post at Old Iliamna, and Danny's father supported the family by commercial fishing and trapping. Eventually, Danny joined his father in the commercial fishing business and later worked on the... Read More

Randy Alvarez and Dan Salmon Dan Salmon

Originally from Penfield, New York, Dan Salmon moved to Alaska in 1983 to attend the University of Alaska, Fairbanks where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology. He discovered Igiugig when he was stationed on the Kvichak River while working for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He spent the winter of 1984 trapping along the Kvichak River and learning the subsistence lifestyle, and in 1985 married an Igiugig Native, Julia Olympic, and began raising a family. Dan dedicated the next... Read More

George Setuk George Setuk

George Setuk is a Yup'ik elder who lives in Levelock, Alaska. He left the community around 1951, when he was nine years old, to receive medical care for a broken back at Mount Edgecumbe hospital in Sitka and lived in Eklutna for fifteen years. George returned to Levelock when he was nineteen years old and began living a life off the land, trapping and commercial fishing. He spent a number of years living remotely at Ben Courtney Creek and traveling by dogteam, and has made most of his living... Read More

Alex Tallekpalek Alex Tallekpalek

Alex Tallekpalek is a Yup'ik elder who was born on Coffee Creek and raised in Levelock, Alaska by his adopted parents, Effie and Lawrence Tallekpalek. He was also raised by his grandfather, Ivan Tallekpalek, from whom he learned traditional skills of living off the land and relying on careful observation. Alex uses the Yup'ik spelling of his name, and continues to follow his Yup'ik cultural traditions and practices. As a culture bearer, Alex has a vast collection of Yup'ik artifacts in his... Read More

John and Mary Tallekpalek John Tallekpalek

John Tallekpalek was a Yup'ik elder who was born at Pilot Station, Alaska on the Lower Yukon River in 1919. When he was four years old, his family moved to Levelock because his father had been told there were good opportunities for employment in the canneries and the fishing industry that mixed well with the seasonal subsistence hunting, trapping and fishing. John married his wife, Mary, and they lived on the Branch River and other places around the region moving between locations as the... Read More

John and Mary Tallekpalek Mary Tallekpalek

Mary Tallekpalek was a Yup'ik elder born at Big Mountain in the Lake Iliamna region of Alaska. Her father was a reindeer herder so the family traveled around to various camps following the herds and practicing a subsistence-based lifestyle. Mary lived on the Branch River where she fished and went berry picking in the summer and trapped in the winter, and, eventually, she and her husband, John, moved into Levelock. Mary also was an accomplished seamstress, having learned to sew from her... Read More

Anne and George Wilson, Sr. Anne Wilson

Anne Wilson is a Yup'ik elder who was born to Evan and Stephanie Apakitak and grew up around the Lake Iliamna area. Her father was a commercial fisherman and trapper, and they traveled around by the season living in small camps at Kukaklek and Nonvianuk lakes, Big Mountain, Kaskanak, and all along the Kvichak River. They also lived in Igiugig until the family moved to Levelock in 1956 so the children could attend school. She married George Wilson, Sr. in 1966 in Levelock, where they lived... Read More

George Wilson, Jr. George Wilson, Jr.

George Wilson, Jr. was born to Anne and George Wilson, Sr. and grew up in Igiugig, Alaska. He has lived a subsistence-based lifestyle his entire life, learning to hunt, fish and trap at an early age from his father. By the time George was fourteen years old, he was going hunting and trapping on his own. He is an experienced outdoorsman who is familiar with the local resources and trails, and has spent a lot of time out in the country around Lake Iliamna. George witnessed the introduction of... Read More

Anne and George Wilson, Sr. George Wilson, Sr.

George Wilson, Sr. was born in 1937 in Levelock, Alaska to Clarence Wilson, who came to Alaska from Nebraska in 1919, and his second wife, Sassa Clark. George was was born and raised in Levelock and moved to Igiugig in 1976 with his second wife, Anne, whom he married in 1966. George attended school through the eighth grade and quit high school to go trapping on the Branch River. He has been a successful subsistence hunter, fisherman and trapper in the Igiugig area, including around Kukaklek... Read More

Carvel Zimin, Sr. Carvel Zimin, Sr.

Carvel Zimin, Sr. was born to Nick & Mary Zimin in 1931 at Diamond O Cannery in South Naknek, Alaska. Carvel only had an elementary school education, but he taught himself everything he needed to be self-sufficient living in a remote village. At age 16, he obtained his pilot’s license even before he had a driver’s license, and was a true bush... Read More

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