Photographs of 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 the Army Signal Corps, and worked for the Weather Bureau. Joe Ulen and his radio continued to be the only link with the outside world for several years. Joe and Tishu had two daughters, Mary and Florence, and a son, Benny. The girls would relay radio messages to camps on the Koyukuk River via dog team. The Ulens owned several mining claims in the Wiseman area, and starting in the early 1950s, they moved back and forth between Wiseman and Fairbanks. Tishu appears as a person in Robert Marshall’s book about Wiseman, titled Arctic Village. Tishu was the one of the last of the Inupiat who had long-term connections with Wiseman. She passed away in 1992.