Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Kurupa Lake, located in the Gates of the Arctic National ParkThis project contains oral history interviews and photographs from Native and non-Native people who live near or have been associated with the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, located in the central Brooks Range of northern Alaska. In the early 1990s, the National Park Service funded the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program to conduct interviews in AlatnaAllakaketAnaktuvuk PassBettlesHughes, Huslia, Wiseman,  and with Park Service employees and other people associated with the Brooks Range about their lives and experiences related to the Park.

Map of the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve areaThe material was put into a Macintosh only Hypercard computer program and was accessible at the University and the Bettles Visitor Center. In 2000, Bill Burke and Jarrod Decker of the UAF Oral History Program began to convert the program to a web-based format. From 2002 to 2004, additional interviews were conducted with people from a wider variety of backgrounds with experiences related to the area before it was designated a national park in 1980. The addition of these interviews and final conversion of the project for the internet were completed by Marie Mitchell and Marla Statscewich of the UAF Oral History Program. The current Drupal-based version of the program was completed in 2012 by Leslie McCartney, Marla Statscewich, Karen Brewster, and Jeannine Haney of the UAF Oral History Program. Many thanks to Ilana Kingsley, Web Librarian at Rasmuson Library for the design and development of this most recent version.

You will find other material related to Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve at the Gates of the Arctic Research Portal. The portal provides a single point of entry where you can find all the digital information available at the University of Alaska Fairbanks relevant to the resident zone communities within and surrounding the park. Both of these projects have been created by the Oral History Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks and funded by the National Park Service, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.

People

Judy Alderson Judy Alderson

Judy Alderson was a ranger in the Gates of the Arctic National Park in the early 1980's. At the time of her interview in 2004, she still worked for the National Park Service in the Anchorage office.

Alice Ambrose Alice Ambrose

Alice Ambrose is a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Hughes, Alaska. She is the daughter of Susie Williams, a well known name in the Koyukon region.

Catherine Attla Catherine Attla

Catherine Attla was a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Huslia, Alaska. She was born at Cutoff in 1927, and grew up speaking her Native language and learning subsistence skills and cultural knowledge from her grandparents in their trapping cabins and fish camps. She married Steven Attla, Sr. in 1944. While raising nine children, Catherine devoted herself to the preservation of her Koyukon language and culture. She worked with anthropologist Richard Nelson and linguist Eliza Jones. She wrote a... Read More

Steven Attla, Sr. Steven Attla, Sr.

Steven Attla, Sr. is a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Huslia, Alaska. He was born in 1924 near Hughes, Alaska but his parents moved down to the Cutoff area when he was about three. He grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle living off the land; hunting, trapping, and fishing following the seasons to different camp locations. He worked as a commercial river boat pilot, for the Public Health Service, and at the Huslia school. Steven and Catherine Attla were married in 1944. Steven is... Read More

Ray Bane Ray Bane

Originally from West Virginia, Ray Bane came to Alaska in 1960 to be a teacher in Sitka. He then taught in Barrow and Wainwright, and conducted subsistence research in the Brooks Range. At the time of his 1992 interview, he was working for the Subsistence Division of the National Park Service. He had also been stationed in Bettles. Ray's work focused on documenting subsistence activities and traditional cultural values and he especially focused on the area of Gates of the Arctic National... Read More

Joe and Celia Beetus Celia Beetus

Celia Beetus is a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Hughes, Alaska. She was born in Allakaket in 1922, the daughter of Jimmy and Annie Koyukuk. In l938, she married Joe Beetus and they settled in Hughes. She grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle moving from camp to camp with the seasons. Since her husband, Joe, was a trapper and hunter, they continued to follow this pattern with their own family of eight children until 1957 when a school was built in Hughes. Celia hoped future... Read More

Joe and Celia Beetus Joe Beetus

Joe Beetus was a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Hughes, Alaska. He was born in 1915 and raised around Allakaket until he was about 14 when his family moved down to the Hughes area. His mother was Ida and his father Leon. Leon was a prominent member of the community that coalesced around the Episcopal Mission, St. John's-in-the-Wilderness, that was built by Hudson Stuck in l907-08 at the site that became the village of Allakaket. Leon died not long after Joe was born, and his mother married... Read More

Lindberg and Lydia Bergman Lindberg Bergman

Lindberg Bergman is an Koyukon Athabascan elder from Allakaket, Alaska. He was born in 1929 and grew up living off the land and learning traditional skills. He is especially known for his boat building. He married his wife, Lydia in 1947, and they had eleven children. Like most Koyukuk River men of his generation, Lindberg worked away from home many summers when his kids were growing up. He worked at the Utopia mine, was an oiler on the dredge at Hog River, was a firefighter for the Bureau... Read More

Lindberg and Lydia Bergman Lydia Bergman

Lydia Bergman is a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Allakaket, Alaska. She was born in 1931 to Agnes Linus and Little William. She grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle which meant she was not able to attend much school since her family frequently moved from one seasonal camp to the other. She married Lindberg Bergman in 1947 and together they had eleven children. By the 1970s, Lydia began to work, doing jobs such as childcare, sewing, cooking, and being a janitor. In her younger... Read More

Fred Lee Bifelt Fred Lee Bifelt

Fred Lee Bifelt is Koyukon Athabascan from Huslia, Alaska. Born in 1958, he began his role as a community leader when he was still a relatively young man. He completed high school in Galena and attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks for a semester. Fred Lee's parents are Madeline and Cue Bifelt, and his grandfather is Fred Bifelt, one of the oldest elders in Huslia, [who is now deceased]. Fred Lee has served on the Board of Directors of Koyitlotsina Ltd., the village corporation created... Read More

Madeline Bifelt Madeline Bifelt

Madeline Bifelt was a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Huslia, Alaska. She was born in 1926 in Allakaket to Edward and Charlotte Bergman. She grew up in the traditional way following the seasonal subsistence cycle of hunting, trapping, and fishing. Her father worked for Wilfred Evans on his boat, "The Imp" hauling goods from Koyukuk for his store in Allakaket, and at Wilfred's sawmill. He also worked for Sam Dubin who had a store in Alatna, which burned and was later rebuilt, and a store and... Read More

Ross Brockman Ross Brockman

Ross Brockman was a long time Wiseman resident who originally went there hoping the cold climate would help cure a lung ailment. He was an avid fiddler, writer, and gardener. Despite living in the Arctic, Ross was a vegetarian and maintained an extensive summer garden. In 1974, he even caught butterflies swarming around his garden for researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In Wiseman, the story goes that at one point in time Ross Brockman would not speak to Harry Leonard, a local... Read More

Bill Brosge Bill Brosge

Originally from Bronx, New York, Bill Brosge worked as a geologist for the US Geological Survey, Alaska Branch from the early 1940s until 2002. As a geologist, he has done fieldwork in the Brooks Range and produced topographic and elaborate geologic maps of the area. In 1951, he was on the geological mapping expedition led by Bill Patton that traversed the Brooks Range by tracked vehicle. Bill is most well known for his studies of the Lisburne limestone in the northeastern Brooks Range, and... Read More

Bill Brown Bill Brown

Born in Seattle in 1930, Bill Brown was a long-time employee of the National Park Service, working in park planning, publication writing and editing, park management, and as regional historian. He came to Alaska in 1975 and was a member of the Park Service's Alaska Task Force that conducted research and worked with local people around Alaska to better understand the areas that were to become new national parks. He played an important role in planning for Yukon-Charley Rivers National... Read More

Bruce Collins Bruce Collins

Born and raised in Texas, Bruce Collins came to Alaska in 1979 to work on the National Park Service's Alaska Task Force that conducted research and worked with local people around Alaska to better understand the areas that were to become new national parks. Bruce first worked as a ranger for the National Park Service in the Lower 48 starting in 1965. He was Chief Ranger for Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve from 1981-1991. At the time he was interviewed in 1992, he was Aviation... Read More

Kitty and David David David David

David David is a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Allakaket, Alaska. His family originally came from the South Fork of the Koyukuk River. The Allakaket community is basically made up of three groups. Two of these groups consist of Koyukon people, one from the Kanuti and Allakaket areas and another from the region around the South Fork of the Koyukuk. The Inupiaq community of Alatna comprises the third group. People from the South Fork area had a base camp at the mouth of the South Fork of the... Read More

Kitty and David David Kitty David

Kitty David is a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Allakaket, Alaska. She was born in Alatna in 1933 to Oscar and Cora Tobuk Nictune. Ann Edwards, Elma Sam,and Bertha Moses are her sisters. She and her five sisters and two brothers grew up (another brother and sister died as young children) spending a lot of time camping away from the village. Her father and both sets of her grandparents had camps up the Alatna River. After her mother died in 1942, the family spent a lot more time in Alatna, and... Read More

Angeline Derendoff Angeline Derendoff

Angeline Derendoff was a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Huslia, Alaska. She was born in 1912 to Happy John Issac and Cecelia Happy, and grew up around Hughes and Hog River. Her family spent summers on the Yukon River, where she remembers going to Nulato. She spent many of her younger years in Cutoff, which her father helped found, before the residents relocated to Huslia in the 1950s due to flooding, because it was on higher ground and they could have a school there for their children.... Read More

Elma Sam and Ann Edwards Ann Edwards

Ann Edwards is an Inupiaq elder from Alatna, Alaska. Ann was born in Alatna to Oscar and Cora Tobuk Nictune. Her sisters include Elma Sam, Kitty David, and Bertha Moses. Ann grew up living a subsistence lifestyle moving from camp to camp with the seasons and speaking her Native language. Her father was a particularly well-known and widely-liked elder on the Koyukuk River. She and her five sisters and two brothers grew up (another brother and sister died as young children) spending a lot of... Read More

Bill and Shirley English Shirley English

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Shirley English came to Alaska in 1945 as a student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She married Bill English in 1948, who grew up in Wiseman, Alaska and made a living as a commercial pilot. As the wife of a pilot, she spent many hours waiting for her husband to come back home safely.

Bill and Shirley English Bill English

Born in 1923, Bill English spent the first eight years of his life in Wiseman, Alaska. His father, William English, Sr., was the storekeeper in Wiseman. The family moved to a ranch in Oregon, and Bill then lived with his aunt in California to finish his education while his parents returned to Alaska. After completing his education, Bill returned to Wiseman in the summers to visit and later as a pilot. Bill made his living as a commercial pilot, mostly for Wien Airlines, and also worked as a... Read More

Cliff Everts Cliff Everts

Originally from Yonkers, New York, Cliff came to Alaska in 1943 as a pilot. He has been a major force in Alaska's aviation industry ever since. Much of his experience has been on the North Slope and in the Brooks Range. He flew for Wien Airlines and Arctic Contractors hauling supplies to Barrow and for the oil exploration program in the Naval Petroleum Reserve Alaska. He's also delivered supplies throughout the Brooks Range to places such as Chandler, Schrader, and Chandalar Lakes and... Read More

Bill and Lill Fickus Bill Fickus

Born in 1928 and originally from Pennsylvania, Bill Fickus came to Alaska in 1956. Bill was a pilot, guide, and miner. In 1959, he married Lill who was from Arctic Village and Fort Yukon. In 1963, they moved to Crevice Creek, about forty miles north of Bettles, where they lived year-round on a remote homestead hunting, gathering, and raising their own food. They also raised and educated their children there.

Bill and Lill Fickus Lill Fickus

Lillian "Lill" Fickus was born in Arctic Village, Alaska and then moved to Fork Yukon when she was ten years old. Her father was from Old Crow and her mother from Arctic Village. She grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle where the family moved from camp to camp following the seasons. As a teenager, she went to school at Mt. Edgecumbe in Sitka and since she wanted to be a nurse she worked at the hospital in Fort Yukon in the summer. In 1959, she married Bill Fickus. In 1963, they... Read More

John Gaedeke John Gaedeke

John Gaedeke was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, with summers spent at his parent's lodge at Iniakuk Lake in the central Brooks Range. John and his mother, Pat, now run Iniakuk Lake Wilderness Lodge. Originally, the lodge was focused on hunters, but now the focus has shifted more toward eco-tourism and recreation. John is also a professional photographer.

Millie Gray Millie Gray

Millie Gray lives on the outskirts of Evansville. She and her husband have retired. Millie has a real love for history; she has old pictures of her father and grandfather, of her father's boats, of him making the boats, and of her mother. Millie's father Wilfred Joseph Evans was a trader on the river. Her mother was the daughter of Tobuk and Tinuk, Kobuk Eskimos from the Alatna. Millie's stepmother was Katherine Pitka, an Athabascan from Koyukuk Station. Millie's grandfather was also married... Read More

Kay Grubis Kay Grubis

Born and raised in Illinois, Kay Grubis came to Alaska to teach in rural communities. She has worked as a teacher in various rural locations, and then went on to live a subsistence-based lifestyle in a remote cabin in the Brooks Range. She met Steve in 1983, when she was hired by him to work on a project at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. At the time of her interview in 2003, Kay and Steve Grubis continued to live remotely and enjoy their wilderness lifestyle.

Steve Grubis Steve Grubis

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Steve Grubis came to Alaska in the 1960s to teach on the Aleutian Islands. He has worked throughout Alaska in education. He then went on to live a subsistence-based lifestyle in a remote cabin in the Brooks Range. Steve met Kay when he hired her in 1983 to work on a project at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. At the time of his interview in 2003, Steve and Kay Grubis continued to live remotely and enjoy their wilderness lifestyle.

George Gryc George Gryc

Originally from Minnesota, George Gryc came to Alaska in 1943 as a geologist with the US Geological Survey's War Minerals Program. George is well known as an expert in the geology of the Brooks Range and northern Alaska, and had a long career with the US Geological Survey. In 1946, he was part of a geological mapping trip in the Brooks Range from Chandler Lake down the Chandler River to the Colville River. He was in charge of the Survey's Navy Oil Unit division, and then was the chief of the... Read More

Bud Helmericks Bud Helmericks

Born in Gibson, Illinois in 1917, Harmon "Bud" Helmericks is a well-known Alaskan pioneer, who was a bush pilot, adventurer, guide, businessman, and author. He came to Alaska with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, having studied engineering at the University of Arizona. He has a long history as a bush pilot in northern Alaska. He lived a remote lifestyle at Walker Lake in the Brooks Range and in the Colville River delta near the Beaufort Sea coast. For years, he kept... Read More

Joe Henderson Joe Henderson

In 1992, when he was interviewed, Joe Henderson had recently restored and re-opened the general store in Wiseman. Joe first was a logger in southeast Alaska, and after moving north to Wiseman became a dog musher. He started Sourdough Outfitters in 1988 and 1989 to provide dog mushing tours in the Brooks Range. He also had some of his dogs used in the 1991 Walt Disney film, "White Fang." He has done numerous long-distance wilderness trips around Alaska with his dog team.... Read More

Marie Henzie Marie Henzie

Marie Henzie is a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Allakaket, Alaska. She was born in 1933 to Frances Ned and Walter Koyukok, After her parents died when she was a child, Marie was raised by her mother's parents, Lilly and Ned Ned. Marie is married to Moses Henzie, and they have a son, Moses Jr., and a daughter Catherine Marie, adopted from Catherine and Stephen Attla in Huslia and several grandchildren. Marie was raised in a household that emphasized traditional skills such as sewing and... Read More

Moses Henzie Moses Henzie

Moses Henzie is a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Allakaket, Alaska. He has long been known as a fine hunter and trapper, and he is a fiddler of considerable talent. Born in 1930 to Titus and Elizabeth Henzie, Moses parents and many of his close relatives were associated with South Fork, a small community at the confluence of the Middle and South Forks of the Koyukuk River. His father's parents were Old Henzie and his wife Julia. His mother's father was Old Linus, who was one of four... Read More

Susan Holly Susan Holly

Originally from Pennsylvania, Susan Holly came to Alaska in 1978. In the 1980s, she and her husband, Tom, ran a trapline in the Talkeetna area. They moved to Bettles in 1985 in search of a more remote lifestyle. At the time of her 1992 interview, Susan Holly was working as a seasonal park ranger for Gates of the Arctic National Park stationed in Bettles. During the winter months, she and husband lived at their trapping cabin on the John River. Susan was able to combine summer work in the... Read More

Walter Johnson Walter Johnson

Born in Nebraska in 1922, Walter Johnson came to Alaska in 1942 to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks. After meeting Bill English at the university, who was originally from Wiseman, Walter got to know and visit the community. With a concern for history, he and Bill bought the Wiseman Trading Company, and he lived off and on in Wiseman for seven years starting in 1945. Walter is an expert on the history of the Wiseman area. After completing bachelor degrees in Anthropology and Biology... Read More

John Kauffmann John Kauffmann

Born in Illinois in 1923, John Kauffmann worked for the National Park Service for twenty years, six as chief planner for Alaska's Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and Noatak National Preserve. As a park planner, he played a key role in the establishment of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, assessing and recommending lands to be included in the new park, and determining what the boundaries and wilderness philosophy would be. He is the author of a book about the... Read More

Rita Koyukuk Rita Koyukuk

Rita Koyukuk is a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Hughes, Alaska. She is the daughter of Susie Williams from Hughes. Alaska. She grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle along the Koyukuk River moving from camp to camp following the seasons and the availability of fish and game. She is known for her talents as a skin and fur sewer.

George Lounsbury George Lounsbury

Born in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1944, George Lounsbury spent twenty years mining on claims near Wiseman that he and his brother, Jim (Clutch) inherited from long-time Wiseman resident, Harry Leonard. George is an expert on Wiseman's history. George also possesses a large collection of historic photographs that originally belonged to Harry Leonard.

Sean McGuire Sean McGuire

Born in Oakland, California in 1955, Sean McGuire first came to Alaska when he was about ten years old to live with the Meader family on remote Wild Lake in the central Brooks Range. From 1967-1971, Sean lived off and on with Fred and Elaine Meader as a companion to their son, Dion. This remote living experience and subsistence-based lifestyle taught Sean a great love of wild places and showed him the importance of protecting them. Sean went on to become a strong environmental activist... Read More

Elaine Meader McCausland Elaine Meader McCausland

Elaine Meader McCausland was born in Massachusetts. She married her husband, Fred Meader, in 1954, who she met while attending nursing school in Boston. In the 1960s and 1970s, Elaine and Fred lived with their children at a remote lake in the Brooks Range. They lived a simple life and chose to live off the land as much as possible. After her son's tragic drowning at the lake and later her husband's accidental death, Elaine left Alaska, earned a PhD in psychology, and moved to northern... Read More

Debbie Mekiana Debbie Mekiana

Debbie Mekiana is from Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska and is the niece of well-known Nunamiut elder, Justus Mekiana. At the time of her 1992 interview, Debbie was a senior in high school. She attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), currently is the director of Rural Student Services at UAF, and is married to John Toopetlook.

Justus Mekiana Justus Mekiana

Justus Mekiana was a Nunamiut elder from Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska. Originally from the Killik River area, Justus was an expert in Nunamiut history and traditional culture, having grown up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle and moving from camp to camp following the seasons and the animals. He was present in 1949 when bands of nomadic Nunamiut living at Chandler Lake and the Killik River in the Brooks Range settled together in the newly established village of Ankatuvuk Pass. His... Read More

Pete and Renee Merry Pete Merry

Born in Oregon and growing up in the Seattle area, Pete Merry first came to Alaska in the late 1940s by flying to Petersburg when he was eighteen years old. Pete has since flown all over Alaska, including many years on the North Slope and in the Brooks Range. He has worked as a pilot for Alaska Coastal Airlines and Wien Airlines, as a hunting guide/pilot, and still works for Everts Air Cargo in Fairbanks, Alaska as an engine mechanic. Pete married Renee, originally from Rampart, and together... Read More

Pete and Renee Merry Renee Merry

Originally from Rampart, Alaska, Renee Merry met Pete Merry in Petersburg, Alaska in the late 1940s, when she was down there working. They married, lived in Fairbanks, and together they raised a family.

Riley Morry Riley Morry

Riley Morry was a Nunamiut elder from Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska. He was born in 1942 on the Killik River and in 1949 moved to Anaktuvuk Pass when bands of nomadic Nunamiut from Chandalar Lake and the Killik River settled together at the new village. He grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle moving from camp to camp following the seasons and the animals. His grandfather was well-known Nunamiut leader, Simon Paneak. In the 1970s, Riley was actively involved in the Alaska Native Claims... Read More

Art and Damaris Mortvedt Art Mortvedt

Originally from North Dakota, Art Mortvedt came to Alaska in January 1974. He was a teacher in the village of Shungnak, Alaska, moved to living a subsistence lifestyle in a remote location in the Brooks Range, has been a pilot, guide, and dog musher, and at the time of his interview in 2002 was running the Peace of Selby Wilderness Lodge at Selby Lake in the Brooks Range. He met Demaris (Dee), his wife, while working at Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota, when she was on her way to... Read More

Art and Damaris Mortvedt Damaris "Dee" Mortvedt

Damaris "Dee" Mortvedt came to Alaska in 1967 as a school teacher. She taught in Cordova, Nome, Tok, Kenny Lake, Shungnak, and Manley Hot Springs. She met Art Mortvedt at a campground at Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota, when she was driving to Alaska. They married in 1978. At the time of the interview with her and Art in 2002, they were running the Peace of Selby Wilderness Lodge at Selby Lake in the Brooks Range.

Johnson and Bertha Moses Bertha Moses

Bertha Moses was an Inupiaq elder from Alatna and Allakaket, Alaska. She was born in 1930 in Alatna, the Inupiaq (Eskimo) village directly across the Koyukuk River from Allakaket. Her parents were Cora Tobuk and Oscar Nictune. Her grandparents, Tiluq (or Dinook) and Tuvaq (or Tobuk) on her mother's side and Tikitchuak (or Dickachalk) and Niuqtuun (Nickdoon or Peter Nictune) on her father's side, who lived in Alatna and in camps on the Alatna River, were important to her growing up. In fact... Read More

Johnson and Bertha Moses Johnson Moses

Johnson Moses was a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Allakaket, Alaska. He was born in 1924 to Billy and Ceza Bergman. When Johnson was about a year old, two of his older brothers died, only a day apart. In keeping with tradition, Johnson's mother gave him away, in hopes that subsequent children, including Johnson, might live. Until he was thirteen, Johnson was raised by Lucy and Henry Moses; then he went to live with Lucy's father, Big William and William William, another youngster whom Big... Read More

Gil Mull Gil Mull

Born in Illinois, Gil Mull came to Alaska in 1961 as a geologist working for Atlantic Richfield Corporation. Having been involved in early oil exploration on the North Slope and doing extensive geological mapping in the Brooks Range, Gil is an expert on Alaska's northern geologic history. In addition to working for the oil industry, Gil also worked for the US Geological Survey and the State of Alaska, Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, Division of Oil and Gas. He retired in 2003... Read More

Stanley Ned Stanley Ned

Stanley Ned is a Koyukon Athabascan from Allakaket, Alaska. He was born in March 1950 to Simon and Pauline Ned. Stanley went to grade school in Allakaket then finished high school first at Mt. Edgecumbe near Sitka and then at Lathrop High School in Fairbanks. In July 1970, he was drafted into the Army where he was part of a sharpshooter unit. He served first in Germany and then in Vietnam, returning to the States in March 1972. His extensive employment history includes working as: a... Read More

Richard Nelson Richard Nelson

Born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1941, Richard Nelson received a Master's degree in anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1971. He first came to Alaska in 1961 to do research on Kodiak Island. He was involved in some of the early studies that were used in developing subsistence policy for Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Richard's involvement with Native communities on the North Slope and the... Read More

Florence and Wallace Nictune Florence Nictune

Florence Nictune is an Inupiaq elder from Alatna. Alaska. Her father's family was originally from Kobuk, but they moved to Alatna just before he was born. Her grandparents came to visit Alatna from Kobuk on a two week trip by dog team, and never left. Her mother was Dora White Tobuk, who also was from Kobuk. Florence moved to Evansville in 1956 to go to school. She married Wallace Nictune and together they had eight children. Florence still lives in the Bettles/Evansville area.

Florence and Wallace Nictune Wallace Nictune

Wallace Nictune was an Inupiaq elder from Alatna, Alaska. Born in 1926, he grew up living a subsistence lifestyle based upon hunting, fishing and trapping. His father worked on boats hauling freight on the Koyukuk River. He married Florence and they raised eight children together. Wallace lived near Evansville, Alaska until he passed away in 1996.

Bill Patton, Jr. Bill Patton, Jr.

Born in Vancouver, Canada, Bill Patton came to Alaska in 1948 as a geologist working for the US Geological Survey in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska. Bill has done geologic exploration and mapping throughout Alaska for the US Geological Survey, but has particular expertise in the Brooks Range and the North Slope. In 1951, he was part of a geological mapping expedition that traversed the Brooks Range by tracked vehicle, and he continued to do remote fieldwork in the region for many... Read More

Jim Pepper Jim Pepper

Jim Pepper was born in Annapolis, Maryland and went to law school at Georgetown University. He began working for the National Park Service in the Division of Plans and Objectives in 1971. He worked for the National Park Service in Washington DC during the time of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which set aside over a 100 million acres of public lands in Alaska. He was very involved in land use policy, management, and legal issues related to Alaska's national parks. Jim... Read More

Jack Reakoff Jack Reakoff

Jack Reakoff came to Wiseman, Alaska as a boy in 1971 with his parents Rick and June Reakoff and his sisters, Heidi and Missy. Jack has been living there on and off since, and by so doing has become one of the longest-term residents of Wiseman. Jack lives a subsistence-based lifestyle focused on hunting, trapping, berry picking, and gardening. With an interest in history, Jack has become Wiseman's unofficial historian. In the summer months, he leads guided walks through town for the Northern... Read More

Suzie Stutzman and Dick Ring Dick Ring

Born in 1947 in Patterson, New Jersey, Dick Ring got his education at Pennsylvania State University, University of Rhode Island, and George Washington University. He also served in the U.S. Army. He worked for the National Park Service for most of his career. In 1981, Dick became the first superintendent of the newly formed Gates of the Arctic National Park. After leaving Alaska, Dick was the superintendent at Delaware Water Gap National Park and Everglades National Park and . In 2000, he... Read More

Ethel Ross Oliver Ethel Ross Oliver

Born in 1914, Ethel Ross Oliver came to Alaska with her first husband when his doctor recommended a vigorous outdoor occupation as a cure for respiratory illness. For ten years, they trapped in the Rainy Pass area of the the Alaska Range. After her husband's death, Oliver returned to school, received a degree in education, and began her career as a teacher. Ethel Ross married Simeon "Nutchuk" Oliver, an Aleut writer, in 1943. In 1946, the couple moved to Atka village in the Aleutians; Ethel... Read More

Elma Sam and Ann Edwards Elma Sam

Elma Sam is an Inupiaq elder from Alatna, Alaska. She is the eldest daughter of Oscar and Cora Tobuk Nictune. Her sisters include Ann Edwards, Kitty David, and Bertha Moses. Elma grew up living a subsistence lifestyle moving from camp to camp with the seasons and speaking her Native language. Her father and both sets of her grandparents had camps up the Alatna River. When her mother died in 1942, she and her siblings worked together to keep the family going while her father took a job with... Read More

Tony Sam, Sr. Tony Sam, Sr.

Tony Sam, Sr. is one of the Huslia's leading older men, and the patriarch of a large family. Born in 1929, Tony's parents, Little Sammy and Big Sophie Sam, both now deceased, are important figures in the recent history of the area. Tony is married to Emily, who is Lee and Eliza Simon's daughter and originally from Allakaket. He is well known for his skills playing the fiddle and the guitar and was known to play at funerals, potlatches, for holidays, and other special occasions.

Dennis Schmitt Dennis Schmitt

Originally from California, Dennis Schmitt first came to Alaska in late summer 1965 as a volunteer with the OEO program, what eventually became the VISTA program, and was assigned to Anaktuvuk Pass. He got a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and studied linguistics with Noam Chomsky. Schmitt speaks ten languages, including Russian, Norwegian, Danish, and French. Given his aptitude for languages and previous experience in Alaska, at age 19, Schmitt... Read More

Dave Schmitz Dave Schmitz

Originally from Ohio, Dave Schmitz graduated from Hiram College in 1972, and decided to go to graduate school in Alaska. After one semester of graduate work in ecology, however, he realized that what he really wanted to do was work in the Brooks Range. In 1973, Dave started trapping in the Alatna River area, and continued to trap and operate a guiding business in the area before Gates of the Arctic National Park was established. During the early days of planning for Alaska's national parks,... Read More

Lydia Simon Lydia Simon

Lydia Simon was a Koyukon Athabascan from Huslia, Alaska. She was born in 1917 to Francis and Christine Olin. Her sister was Mary Vent. When she was only three days old, her parents gave her to Rose and Peter Kokrine who adopted her and took her to live with them in Old Kokrines. When she was six, her adoptive father became ill with TB and died. The next year her adoptive mother also become ill and died. For about a year she lived with her grandparents, Old Man Tom Marie and his wife. Then... Read More

Suzy Stutzman and Dick Ring Suzy Stutzman

Originally from Illinois, Suzy Stutzman began working for the National Park Service after she graduated from the University of Illinois. In 1984, she transferred to Alaska where she worked as a planner for Gates of the Arctic National Park. She was attracted to this work, because she felt the wilderness of Gates of the Arctic made it the extreme ideal of a national park. Suzy Stutzman went on to become the Lead Planner/Wilderness Coordinator for the National Park Service, Intermountain... Read More

Ted Swem Ted Swem, Sr.

Ted Swem was born in 1917 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and came to Alaska in 1962. Working for the National Park Service in Washington, D.C, Ted was key to development of new national park areas in Alaska in the 1970s. He was Chairman of the Alaska Planning Group for the Department of Interior, and his work set the stage for enactment of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). Ted received his Bachelor of Science in Forestry from Iowa State University in Ames, and completed... Read More

Tishu Ulen Tishu Ulen

Tishu Ulen was an Inupiaq Eskimo born in 1905 near Chandalar Lake in the Brooks Range. Her father was originally from Kobuk and her mother from Selawik. Tishu's father was a hunter, providing meat for local miners, so Tishu grew up living a nomadic subsistence-based life. Eventually, Tishu and her mother, Mary Orok English, settled in Wiseman, a gold camp on the middle fork of the Koyukuk River. In 1924, Tishu married Joe Ulen, who was the U.S. Postmaster at Wiseman, operated the radio for... Read More

Bobby Vent Bobby Vent

Bobby Vent was a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Huslia, Alaska. He was born in October 1913, grew up near Anvik, and attended the Holy Cross Mission school in Holy Cross. He later moved to Huslia. Bobby was known as one of the original "Huslia Hustlers", a group of men from the Koyukuk River region who were quite successful at raising winning racing sled dogs. He ran dogs in the early Iditarod International Sled Dog Race and the North American Championship Sled Dog Race,and came in second in... Read More

Mary Vent Mary Vent

Mary Vent was a Koyukon Athabascan from Huslia, Alaska. She was born in 1912 to Francis and Christine Olin, and grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle on the Huslia River. Her father was one of the last active medicine men on the Koyukuk River, and he taught Mary a great deal of traditional lore. As a result, Mary was someone people turned to for traditional knowledge. Mary was a very skilled bead worker and knitter. She was also a fine singer, whose contributions to funerals,... Read More

Bonnie Wartes Bonnie Wartes

Born in eastern Washington in 1920, Bonnie Wartes came to Alaska with her husband, Bill, who was the Presbyterian minister for the North Slope in the 1950's. They were based out of Barrow, Alaska, and Bill was the first minister to also be a pilot. In 1958, he worked with people in Anaktuvuk Pass to build their log church, later named "The Chapel in the Mountains." Bonnie helped Bill with his Presbyterian mission work while also raising a family in Barrow.

William and Effie Williams Effie Williams

Effie Williams was a Koyukon Athabascan from Allakaket, Alaska. She was born in June 1919 to Lilly and Ned Ned. They had a house at Old Bergman, but visited Allakaket for church. Among her uncles were Leon and Billy Bergman. When Effie was very young, she was adopted by Grandma Tilly and she lived with Tilly and Big Susie until Tilly died when Effie was six or seven years old. Effie spent a year living at the St. John's-in-the-Wilderness Mission at Allakaket, then went back to her birth... Read More

Susie Williams Susie Williams

Susie Williams was an Koyukon Athabascan from Hughes, Alaska. She was born in October 1905 to Leon and Ida. Leon was a prominent member of the early Allakaket community that coalesced around the St.-John's-in-the-Wilderness Mission. He died when Susie was about nine years old, so Susie did not have as much chance to go to school as she would have liked. She had to stay home and take care of her younger sisters while her mother went out hunting and trapping to support the family. Susie grew... Read More

William and Effie Williams William Williams

William Williams was a Koyukon Athabascan from Allakaket, Alaska. He was born in 1916 at Rock Island Point, eight miles below Hughes, to Alfred and Julia Isaac. He was adopted by Big William and his wife Abbey and moved to Bettles, a community that he remembers at that time as being mostly miners, with almost no Indian people and few children. His adoptive family was associated with South Fork, so he had ties to that community as well. His adoptive mother died when he was eight or nine.... Read More

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