Photographs from Betty Johnson's personal collection.
Elizabeth "Betty" Johnson was an Athabascan elder who was born in 1919 in Holy Cross, Alaska to Frances and Eluska Demientieff. Frances was a well-known Native sewer and artist. Betty was their oldest daughter and sister of Luke Demientieff, whose interview appears elsewhere in this Jukebox. Betty attended school at the Holy Cross Mission where she learned to read, write, garden, and sew. As an adult, she worked at the hospitals in Mountain Village, Bethel and in Anchorage. She and her first husband, Leonard Norman, ran a lodge in Glennallen, Alaska and homesteaded on the Kenai Peninsula in the 1950s. Betty married Jim Johnson in 1967, and they returned to Holy Cross to run a store. They closed the store in the late 1970s and moved to Kenai, Alaska, but Betty returned to Holy Cross every summer for subsistence hunting and fishing. Betty loved the subsistence lifestyle and had many memories of traveling on the river, moose hunting, and being out in the country during all the seasons of the year. Betty passed away in 2009 at the age of 89.