Photographs taken during Susie Williams' interview and from her personal collection
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 up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle moving from camp to camp with the seasons. As a young woman, she married Frank Simon, son of Old Simon and Julia, and they had three children. However, Frank died in the late 1920s, as did two of their children. In l933, Susie married Lavine Williams who lived in Hughes. She moved to Hughes, where she and Lavine had seven children and adopted three more. Susie was a talented singer and composer of traditional Native songs. Susie Williams was also interviewed in 1995 by Wendy Arundale and Eliza Jones (Tape # Oral History 95-92-01 to 95-92-06), and Susie and Lavine Williams were interviewed by Poldine Carlo in February 1973 (Tape # Oral History 91-12-222) and in 1983 by students of the Alaska Native Studies "Knowledge of Native Elders" course at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (Tape # Oral History 90-06-38 to 90-06-43), all available at the Oral History Program, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks.