Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Otis Ahkivgak

Otis Ahkivgak

Otis Ahkivgak was born in 1891 in Wainwright, Alaska, but lived along the northern Beaufort Sea coast. Typical of Inupiaq families at that time, they moved around a lot following the seasons and available food sources. Starting in 1902, after a measles epidemic, the family spent winters at Flaxman Island. Otis grew up hunting for caribou, seals, and polar bear, setting nets for fish, reindeer herding, and trapping foxes. Otis whaled with Taaqpak at Cross Island, and married his daughter, Mary. They moved to Barrow, Alaska about 1938. Otis loved to go whaling and considered Taaqpak his great teacher. From a lifetime of subsistence activity, Otis developed a great knowledge of the ice conditions both along the Beaufort Sea coastline and around Barrow. Eventually, Otis took over Taaqpak’s whaling crew as Taaqpak became too old to keep whaling. The Ahkivgak Crew continues to whale in Barrow. After Mary Ahkivgak died, Otis married Olive. Otis Ahkivgak died December 24, 1980; he was 89 years old. For more about Otis Ahkivgak, see Qiñiqtuagaksrat Utuqqanaat Iñuuniaġniŋisiqun: The Traditional Land Use Inventory for the Mid-Beaufort Sea, Volume 1. (Barrow, AK: North Slope Borough, Commission on History and Culture, 1980).

Date of Birth:
Mar 15, 1891
Date of Death:
Dec 24, 1980
Otis Ahkivgak appears in the following new Jukebox projects: