Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Lydia Simon

Lydia Simon

Lydia Simon was a Koyukon Athabascan from Huslia, Alaska. She was born in 1917 to Francis and Christine Olin. Her sister was Mary Vent. When she was only three days old, her parents gave her to Rose and Peter Kokrine who adopted her and took her to live with them in Old Kokrines. When she was six, her adoptive father became ill with TB and died. The next year her adoptive mother also become ill and died. For about a year she lived with her grandparents, Old Man Tom Marie and his wife. Then she went back to live with her birth parents. Lydia has had eye problems since birth, and when her father realized she was almost blind, he summoned two other medicine people, Little Paul, Lavine Williams' father, and Old Man Stickman, Joe Stickman's father, to help him make medicine for her. They made medicine only in the nighttime. Every morning Lydia would awake with her pillow "just wet." After about a week she was able to open her eyes and see. Although her vision was not perfect, her vision improved considerably. Lydia never had the opportunity to go to school. In 1932, when she was sixteen, she married Edwin Simon from Allakaket who was somewhat older. Edwin's first wife, Margarite had died of TB the year before. They settled around Cutoff, and had fourteen children. When Edwin died in 1979, he was considered one of the most knowledgeable people on the Koyukuk about old ways, including the "high" language appropriate for songs and potlatch speeches. Despite lifelong problems with her vision, Lydia learned to sew and do beadwork, and with help from her husband learned to shoot and successfully hunt moose and ducks. Lydia was known for her knowledge of traditional stories and practices that she learned from her various parents and grandparents.

Date of Birth:
Apr 25, 1917
Date of Death:
Sep 7, 2004
Lydia Simon appears in the following new Jukebox projects: