Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Mary Nielsen

Mary Jane did not give a separate interview, but helped Pat Partnow conduct interviews with her friends and relatives, and also contributed information of her own in discussions with her brother Ted Angasan and mother Vera Angasan. As a founding member of the Council of Katmai Descendants, she is personally and professionally interested in preserving information and practices of her ancestors. She has many personal memories of her grandmother, Pelagia Melgenak, and her Taata (grandfather), One-Arm Nick Melgenak, as they taught her and her brothers and sisters how to harvest and process redfish. Mary Jane talks emotionally about the dietary and cultural importance of dried redfish (spawned-out red salmon) as a delicacy and link with the past and with places that are considered almost holy by Katmai descendants. For years, she explains, Katmai descendants had to furtively harvest their traditional food within park boundaries in the area where their families had fished for uncounted generations. It was only in 1996 that redfish harvesting became legal again and her family could resume redfish harvesting.

Mary Nielsen appears in the following new Jukebox projects: