Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Robert "Bobby" Schaeffer

Bobby Schaeffer

Robert "Bobby" Schaeffer was born in 1949 in Kotzebue, Alaska. His father was an expert hunter and taught his seven sons how to hunt seals, beluga whales, polar bears, and caribou, trap and fish, survive on the sea ice, and provide for their family with a subsistence lifestyle. As the youngest, Bobby had to wait his turn before he could try seal hunting himself, but would tag along and do chores as a way to learn. By high school, he was old enough and knowledgeable enough to hunt on his own. Bobby attended Copper Valley School in Glennallen, Alaska for high school, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. In 1970, he started working for the non-profit RurAL CAP program assisting low income residents of northwestern Alaska. He was also involved in local operation of the hospital in Kotzebue, the fight for Native land claims, establishment of NANA Regional Corporation, the Native Village of Kotzebue, and the school board. He also worked as the Public Services Director for the Northwest Arctic Borough from 2006-2012, when he retired. Bobby continues to be one of the active hunters in Kotzebue who still travels on the ice, and in the late 1990s he started setting crab pots under the ice. As an active hunter all his life, Bobby has been a close observer of the environment and is an expert traveler and hunter. On sunny spring days, he prefers to be out fishing.

Robert "Bobby" Schaeffer appears in the following new Jukebox projects: