Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Ruthie "Tatqavin" Sampson

Ruthie Sampson

Ruthie Tatqavin Ramoth Sampson was an award-winning and devoted Iñupiaq linguist and educator in northwestern Alaska. Born in Selawik to Emma and Ralph Ramoth, Ruthie grew up in a large family living a traditional subsistence lifestyle and learning to speak her Native Iñupiaq language. At age fourteen, Ruthie left Selawik to attend high school in Anchorage, and went on to attend college at University of Alaska Fairbanks, Central Washington State College, and Chukchi College, Kotzebue's satellite branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Ruthie worked for the Northwest Arctic Borough School District for decades creating a wide variety of Iñupiaq teaching materials. She translated proceedings at public meetings for elders, including over the region's lone radio station, KOTZ. She published books of Iñupiaq stories in both English and Iñupiaq, helped translate for visiting researchers, and as a linguist provided detailed explanations of Iñupiaq terminology. Ruthie served as one of the organizers and translators during the Communities of Memory public storytelling event held in Kotzebue from February 29-March 2, 1996, where local residents spoke about their memories of and experiences related to the military. Ruthie received numerous awards, including the 2007 Alaska Association of Bilingual Education President's Award for "her lifetime commitment to documenting, teaching and writing about Iñupiaq language and culture and her many years of administrative service to the children, parents and schools of the Northwest Arctic Borough." Ruthie Sampson passed away in November 2008. For more about Ruthie Sampson, see "Sampson Gave Voice to Inupiat," an article published in the Alaska Daily News after her death.

Ruthie "Tatqavin" Sampson appears in the following new Jukebox projects: