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This program mixes photographs with interviews of local Elders to tell about the rich history of the village of Kiana, Alaska. Kiana is one of nine villages in the region with cultural ties to the lands now encompassed by the Western Arctic National Parklands. The information shared in this presentation is meant to inform and enlighten local residents as well as visitors who may be new to the region served by the Western Arctic National Parklands. For those visitors who may never have an opportunity to set foot in a northwest Alaskan village, the collection offers glimpses of the people of Kiana, their history, and the setting of their community.
This program was funded by the National Park Service and developed in partnership with the Kiana Traditional Council and the Oral History Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Hazel Apok was born to Melba Woods on January 1, 1951 in Noatak, Alaska. In March 1951 or 1952, she was adopted by Johnnie and Martha Smith and traveled to Kiana by dog team. She spent the first five years of her life away from the village with her parents in designated spring and summer camps. During portions of the winter months, they traveled far and away by dog team in search of caribou and other game. Because Hazel needed to attend school, Johnnie and Martha settled down in Kiana where... Read More
Roger Atoruk was born in Kiana to Peter and Nellie Ward Sheldon Atoruk on July 28, 1930. He grew up in Kiana and spent his entire life there. His mother, Nellie, married Peter Atoruk after the death of her first husband, Tommie Sheldon, Sr. After Nellie passed away, Peter married Effie. This brought several families and children together. As a result, Roger has many brothers and sisters: Elwood Atoruk, Stella Dugish and Norma Stagnero; half-brothers and sisters: Wilbur, Michael and Ben; and... Read More
|Walter Cook, Sr.||
Walter Cook, Sr. was born in Kiana on February 18, 1940. He was adopted by Harry and Belle Cook from Elsie Stoney Hunnicutt. Walter grew up in Kiana and had three brothers and two sisters. He attended school in Kiana through the 6th grade and left during his 7th grade year. During his life, Walter has held a variety of jobs and worked in several different locations. For a time, he was a member of the Alaska National Guard. He has also worked as a seasonal fire fighter for the Bureau of Land... Read More
Leo Jackson was born to Tommy (Isaac Jackson's oldest brother, Henry's father) and Emily Oney Jackson on January 6, 1936 in Noatak, Alaska. His mother was from Marshall, Alaska. He spent the first five years of his life in Noatak and Kotzebue, after which he moved to Kiana. Leo had six brothers and sisters: Rena, Sammy, Freddy, Gilbert, Flora and Dora. Dora is his only living sibling. Leo did not marry and has no children, but he has held quite a few jobs and lived in several different... Read More
Percy Jackson was born in reindeer camp on April 27, 1923 to Frank Jackson and Clara Mulluk Jackson. His family's camp was located up Squirrel River, just around the bend from Kiana. His parents herded reindeer until their animals eventually wandered off with passing caribou. Percy has one brother, Elmer, and five sisters: Lucy, Rachel (Adams), Ruth (Downey), Flora (Green) and Edna (Samuel). They spent from June to September in camp about 12 miles up the Kobuk River and would return to the... Read More
|Henry Jackson, Sr.||
Henry Jackson, Sr. was born in Kiana to Isaac and Jennie Sheldon Jackson on November 23, 1924. He and his siblings grew up in the "old village," which was near the Squirrel River outlet that is just below the end of the present day Kiana airstrip. Henry's brothers and sisters include Ray, Clifton, Clarence, Fred, Kitty, and Annie. Florence and Lulu died in infancy. In younger days, Henry spent time below Noorvik hunting muskrat in the spring. He spent the rest of the year fishing up the... Read More
Ruth Sandvik was born in Kotzebue, Alaska to Walter and Nellie Flood Blankenship on September 25, 1928. Although born in Kotzebue, she does not consider herself a Qikiktagrugmiut (Iñupiaq name for the people of Kotzebue). Ruth and her sister Ida grew up in Candle, Quartz and Bear Creek (near Candle), Elephant Point, Kewalik, Selawik, and finally Kiana. Their mother, Nellie, was raised at Oksiq between Kiana and Noorvik. Ruth's grandmother, Kitty Kapathuk Flood, grew up in Kiana and Oksiq.... Read More
|Tommie Sheldon, Jr.||
Tommie Sheldon, Jr. was born on April 28, 1926 to Tommie and Nellie Ward Sheldon Atoruk. His birthplace was in Kiana at the location commonly referred to today as the "old village." His father died before Tommie was born, but soon after his mother married Peter Atoruk, also of Kiana. Their marriage brought together two families and many children. As a result, Tommie has many siblings, among them Elwood and Roger Atoruk, Norma Atoruk Stagnero and Stella Atoruk Dugish. Step-siblings: Wilbur,... Read More