Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Paul Kirsteatter

Paul Kirsteatter

Paul Kirsteatter was born in 1922 in Illinois and became acquainted with Alaska during his World War II service in the Air Force.  After his discharge in 1945, Paul returned to Alaska in 1946 where he met his wife, Margaret Jacob, who was from Healy Lake. They settled in Healy Lake in 1947, shortly after the epidemic which significantly reduced the village’s population.  Paul and Margaret lived at Healy Lake during a time when many people had moved away from the community. They lived in both the old and new village; their son, Fred, being the last child born at the old village of Healy Lake. The Kirsteatters supported their family by living a subsistence lifestyle, supplemented by income from trapping and the wolf bounty (Paul was known as a master wolf trapper), and Paul’s summer employment with the Alaska Road Commission in Tok. They educated their four children at home, as well as teaching them the Native traditions of living off the land. Paul’s deceased wife, Margaret was born in Mansfield, Alaska in 1916 to Gus Jacob of the Mansfield/Ketchumstuk  band and Agnes Sam from Healy Lake. Gus Jacob was first cousin to Walter Isaac, chief of Mansfield.  Agnes Sam's mother, (Margaret's grandmother) was Belle Hatchet Sam.  Margaret’s father died when she was two years old and her mother returned to Healy Lake and married Paddy Healy. Paddy Healy died shortly thereafter, and Margaret was raised by her grandparents who taught her the traditional ways and the Athabascan language. Although not originally from Healy Lake, Paul’s experience living in the community and learning from the elders in the late 1940s and early 1950s provides useful insight into the history and traditions of the people of Healy Lake. His stories appear in Mendees Cheeg Naltsiin Keey': An Oral History of the People of Healy Lake Village (annotated and edited by Donald G. Callaway and Constance A. Friend, Revised June 2007). Paul Kirsteatter passed away July 23, 2012, just short of his 90th birthday. For more about Paul Kirsteatter, see his obituary in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner newspaper.

Date of Birth:
Aug 17, 1922
Date of Death:
Jul 23, 2012
Paul Kirsteatter appears in the following new Jukebox projects: