Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Lela Oman

Lela Oman

Lela Kiana Oman is an Inupiaq elder who was born in 1915 in Noorvik, Alaska. She moved to Nome, Alaska as a young girl and has remained there ever since. She grew up learning Inupiaq traditional stories from her father, Jim Kiana, despite the pressures against this from nearby missionaries; Eskimo dancing also was not allowed in the village. She has spent her life focused on preserving these stories and passing on her Inupiaq traditions. She has published a number of books of Native stories, including: Eskimo Legends (1966, Nome Press); and the Epic of Qayaq: The Longest Story Ever Told By My People (1995, Carleton University Press). In addition to participating in the Nome Communities of Memory project, Lela was interviewed on June 22, 2007 by William Schneider where she shares stories and discusses influences of the 1918 influenza epidemic in Alaska and the role that Arthur Nagozruk, Sr. played in it (Oral History 2007-03-01, Oral History Collection, Alaska and Polar Regions Collections, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks).

Lela Oman appears in the following new Jukebox projects: