Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Lena Charley

Lena Charley

Lena Charley is an Athabascan elder who was born around 1929 in Chistochina, Alaska. She grew up in Chistochina and Batzulnetas living a traditional subsistence lifestyle. Although her father died when Lena was young, she learned to hunt and trap and survive alone in the woods. At the age of twenty, Lena went to work for local hunting guide, Lee Hancock, as a horse wrangler, and spent over twenty years working as a hunting guide in the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains around Nabesna, Slana, Chistochina, Mentasta, and up the Copper and Chitina Rivers. She also ran a trapline, worked on construction projects, and sold her handmade moccasins and gloves to earn extra income. Having grown up using dogs and dogteams for subsistence, in her later years Lena began to race sled dogs. She competed in the Copper Basin 300 and the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

Lena Charley appears in the following new Jukebox projects: