Photographs from Faye Ongtowasruk related to reindeer herding.
Faye Ongtowasruk is an Iñupiaq elder who was born in 1928 in Wales, Alaska. She grew up around reindeer herding and helped with chores like washing dishes at reindeer camp during the spring roundup. Her husband Clarence Ongtowasruk was a reindeer herder in Wales, Alaska and she had a son, Norman, who learned about herding from Johnson Stalker in Nome who herded as well. After Clarence's death in 1992 and her son's death, Faye took over management of the herd. While she was the official owner of the herd, at corralling time she did the cooking and her sons worked the reindeer. In 2012, Faye transferred ownership of the herd to her son, Davis Ongotwasruk. Faye is a well-respected elder who has contributed to the work of the U.S. National Park Service and Iñupiaq Sea Ice Dictionary, and who also makes traditional dolls, parkas, leggings and mukluks, as well as teaching Iñupiaq dancing and language. For more about the history and activities of the Ongtowasruk reindeer herd, see "The Ongtowasruk Herd of Wales, Alaska" by Davis Ongtowasruk with contributions by Faye Ongtowasruk, Amber Lincoln, and Patrick Plattet (Alaska Journal of Anthropology vol. 12, no. 2 (2014): 52-60).