Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Richard Frank was a respected Athabascan Elder from Minto, Alaska. He was born in 1927 to Justin and Lucy Frank, during a time when a nomadic subsistence lifestyle was paramount for survival. His family moved across the lands of Rampart, Stevens Village and Minto. He grew up learning the skills and traditions of his ancestors. This early training set the path and philosophy that Richard followed throughout his life: a strong work ethic, a sense of place, service to his community, fierce independence, and a competitive spirit. Richard became involved in community projects at a young age; he participated in a local youth club, similar to the Boy Scouts, where he assisted the elders by cutting their wood, hunting for them, hauling their water, and helping the elders any way he could. At age 13, he chose to join the workforce and got a job with the Alaska Railroad working between Nenana and Cantwell. When Richard turned 18, he enlisted into the Army Air Corps and served in the Pacific theater during World War II. Here he learned to be an airplane mechanic, which he later applied to jobs with Wien Airlines and Boeing. He also worked on the riverboats on the Tanana and Yukon Rivers that hauled freight to remote communities. Having grown up mushing dogs, Richard applied this skill and interest into training and racing sled dogs. In the 1960s, Richard advocated for Native land rights and was highly involved in the Alaska Native land claims movement. During his lifetime, Richard Frank served as the Chief of the Minto Tribal Council, President of the Minto Village Corporation, and served on the Board of the Tanana Chiefs Conference. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 85. For more about Richard Frank, see his obituary in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner newspaper or his interview at the Fairbanks Native Association Project Jukebox.
Date of Birth:
Aug 2, 1927
Date of Death:
Sep 21, 2012
Richard Frank appears in the following new Jukebox projects:
Harold Woods and Richard Frank were interviewed on February 12, 1987 by William Schneider and Pete Bowers in Fairbanks, Alaska. In this interview, Harold and Richard talk about their experiences with the early days of sled dog racing in interior Alaska. They talk about specific races, including the Open North American Championship Sled Dog Race and the race from Fairbanks to Livengood, as well as differences between the early days and current racing. Harold also talks about breeding, raising and training sled dogs, other mushers he raced with, and being a dog team mail carrier between Rampart and Manley Hot Springs. For more information about the history of sled dog racing in Fairbanks, see an article titled "Sled Dog Racing in Fairbanks" written by Pete Bowers for the Alaska Dog Mushers Association which appeared in their 1983-1984 Race Season Program. For more about the history of the race from Fairbanks to Livengood, see an article titled "From Fairbanks to Livengood and Back" on pages 12-14 in the February/March 1988 issue of Mushing magazine.