Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Virgil Naylor, Sr.

Virgil Naylor, Sr.

Virgil Naylor, Sr. is an Iñupiaq elder in Kotzebue, Alaska. He was born in 1936 in Noatak, Alaska, and grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle. He attended Mt. Edgecumbe school in Sitka, Alaska, and after graduation traveled around the state working as an electronic technician repairing the Air Force’s White Alice communication system. In 1965, he married his wife, Elsie, originally from Shishmaref, and they moved to Kotzebue. He continued to work for the White Alice station in Kotzebue and then as a carpenter/maintenance man for the school district until he retired in 2005. From a young age, Virgil learned to hunt and travel on the sea ice from his father and older male relatives and became a successful seal and beluga whale hunter. Although he no longer does much winter hunting, Virgil still hunts bearded seal from a boat in the broken ice of late spring, and, despite their age, he and his wife continue to be active fishermen, going out on the Kobuk Lake ice as often as possible in the springtime.

Virgil Naylor, Sr. appears in the following new Jukebox projects: