Roy Sam is an Upper Tanana Athabascan elder from Northway, Alaska. His father was Big John and his mother, originally from Tetlin, was Jessie John. He grew up learning to hunt and trap from his father, who traveled around the area including Northway, Nabesna, Batzulnetas, Suslota, Chisana, Beaver Creek, Kechumstuk, Mansfield, Tanacross, Dot Lake, Tetlin and the Black Hills. When Roy became an adult, he ran his own trapline and has been an active hunter and fisherman. He was in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955, and then worked as a maintenance man for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) based out of Northway. As a speaker of his Native language and user of the land, Roy is an expert on local Native place names. Roy is married to Avis Sam, and they raised a family mostly on subsistence harvested resources.