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Ray Bane, Part 1

This interview with Ray Bane took place at his office in Anchorage, Alaska on August 3, 1992. Ray was working in the Subsistence Division of the National Park Service, and he generously took time out to discuss his role in the early subsistence research that provided baseline data for establishing management policy in the area that was to become Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Ray was happy to find that the Jukebox project was aimed at elucidating multiple viewpoints on a critical period of Alaskan history and National Park formation. In particular, he expressed his hope that a permanent record such as this would be available to help people understand and remember the complex issues surrounding subsistence, land management, and the preservation mandate of the National Park Service. Ray expressed concern over the direction of the Park Service itself, and he also detailed the vehement local opposition to the parks when they were first formed. Importantly, he also discussed the profound impact of his experiences with Native peoples in altering his own vision of the relationship between humans and the natural world. He hoped that his contribution to subsistence policy reflects the deep cultural and spiritual ties to land and animals that he witnessed and participated in while working in Native communities throughout the Arctic.

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Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 93-15-42

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Aug 3, 1992
Narrator(s): Ray Bane
Interviewer(s): David Krupa
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.


1) His background before coming to Alaska

2) Early experiences leading him to Alaska

3) Things learned in Wainwright that remained deep influences

4) Involvement as teachers in these areas

5) Subsistence studies for the Park Service

6) Political context of the times when those studies were being done

7) Working in Bettles

8) Involvement with non-Natives in the areas

9) Documenting such values in the subsistence studies

10) Native vs. non-Native use

11) Issues particular to Gates

12) His changing role from researcher to manager

13) Local responses to park formation

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


Section 1: born -- Wellsburg, West Virginia\ Wheeling\ Marshall University\ education\ family -- working class\ jobs -- foundry\ career -- school teacher|

Section 2: interests -- camping, hiking, hunting\ influences -- friend; movie "White Wilderness," filmed mostly in Brooks Range\ goal -- one year adventure in Alaska\ teaching -- offers from Barrow to Ketchikan\ Sitka -- Sheldon Jackson High School\ income -- $8000 between them\ 1960 -- arrived in Alaska, all plans to leave out the window\ village -- Point Barrow, 1961\ Bureau of Indian Affairs\ dog mushing\ Native culture\ Wainwright -- primitive then; three year stay deeply affected Banes\ Nelson, Richard\ village life -- involved\ cultural anthropology\ University of Wisconsin -- two years; Dick Nelson\ "Hunters of the Northern Ice"\ subsistence -- study of inland environment use\ Alaska -- return\ flying -- learning\ Huslia -- three years\ Hughes -- three years|

Section 3: subsistence -- traveling with Natives\ dog team\ skin boat\ people -- materially poor, culturally rich\ culture -- pride; competence; strong identity; self-esteem\ worldview -- learned multiplicity of\ learning -- slow; retrospective\ non-Natives -- few; missionaries; avoided\ minority -- first hand experience as\ story -- doctor's behavior an embarrassment\ storekeeper\ Uguvaluk, Raymond -- joking partner\ doctor -- his mistakes a cultural mirror; intrusive; crude\ wife -- better at adjusting; part of social fabric; sister|

Section 4: teaching -- teaching couple\ Barrow -- seven teachers\ quarters -- taught in washroom; attic\ C-46 -- coming from Fairbanks\ culture shock\ wife -- looking at from air, tears\ Umiat\ attractions -- culture; language; kids; people|

Section 5: travel -- from Huslia, Hughes\ Ekok, Wesley -- teacher, companion for study\ Wainwright\ Nelson, Richard\ Athabaskans -- kindled interest\ Brooks Range -- camped, hiked, boated with Nelson\ dog team trip -- 1973; one year leave of absence\ trip -- out to Kotzebue to Barrow; February to May\ subsistence study -- recognized need to accommodate\ villages -- fourteen; people helped\ National Park Service\ Bradley, Zorro -- ideas for studying Native life\ Anderson, Doug\ Brown University\ Shungnak -- one year\ Kobuk River\ Nelson, Richard\ project -- pioneer effort\ National Park Service -- in past, natural but not cultural preservation\ Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act -- sincere effort to reflect cultural and environmental preservation|

Section 6: Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act -- context of urgency\ Natives -- land selections\ State of Alaska\ conservationists -- saw urgency in protections amidst development\ Fairbanks Environmental Center -- co-founder\ Center for Northern Environment\ pipeline\ task force\ Brooks Range\ Kauffmann, John\ proposal -- letter to Department of the Interior recommending park protection for Alatna, Upper Noatak, Kobuk Rivers\ parks -- traditional approach wouldn't work\ Sun, Joe\ Lee, Charlie\ Koyukuk River\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ Koyukon\ publications\ "Tracks in the Wildland"\ Gates of the Arctic -- job offer\ Bettles -- environmental planner; liaison; six years|

Section 7: subsistence studies\ CPSU\ Bradley, Zorro\ Nelson, Richard\ job -- liaison between NPS and local communities; explore area\ Kauffmann, John -- explored much\ D-2 Bill\ Congress\ media\ visitors|

Section 8: culture -- different perspectives\ Native culture\ values -- land part of culture; group expression; place names; meaning is in land\ non-Native culture\ values -- adventure; seeking; changing land; escape\ spirituality -- Natives close ties to land and animals\ non-Natives -- often running, escaping a too confining culture; individualistic\ perspectives -- each side has hard time understanding the other\ cultural anthropologist -- definition: one who doesn't have a culture anymore\ culture -- once conscious, is it culture anymore?; playacting|

Section 9: values -- goal of studies\ subsistence -- protect\ NPS -- wrongly condemned\ Native preference\ politics -- compromises|

Section 10: policy goal -- grandfather users, phase out non-Natives\ responsibility -- to Natives\ change -- political nightmare\ vision -- culture to be accommodated\ Title Eight\ Gates of the Arctic -- wanted to protect against roads, development\ Brooks Range -- central, epitome of wilderness\ Natives -- occupancy, thousands of years\ conflict -- biological vs. cultural needs|

Section 11: access\ All Terrain Vehicles\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ technology -- changes\ National Park Service Organic Act\ subsistence -- as allows for future\ co-management -- decisions|

Section 12: Gates of the Arctic\ environmental planner\ liaison\ Monuments Proclamation\ communication\ Albright -- learned ranger skills\ management -- tried to remain sensitive\ Kotzebue -- manager assistant; park superintendent\ Gates of the Arctic -- past time to leave; baggage; turmoil|

Section 13: Belous, Bob\ reaction -- before formation, locals too casual\ Natives -- no basis for understanding\ Monument Proclamation -- 1978; dynamite; protests\ Washington D.C.\ D-2 -- to expire in 1979\ Antiquities Act -- prepared study for presidential proclamation\ Andrus, Secretary -- hoped president wouldn't use\ Gravel, Mike -- threatened to kill legislation\ Carter, President -- declared\ Bettles -- hostility\ anger\ petitions\ Bettles Lodge -- personal threats\ meeting -- public|

Section 14: National Park Service -- task force, enforcement oriented; helicopters; uniforms\ reaction -- renewed anger\ Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act -- after the fact\ guides -- most angered\ violence -- rocks; threats; refused service\ National Park Service -- was trying to be understanding; sense of teamwork|

Section 15: results -- largely satisfactory, some qualifications\ vision -- partly realized\ visionaries -- John Kauffmann and Bob Belous\ reality -- didn't live up to ideal\ future -- requires rethinking, new direction\ Vail Agenda -- self critical NPS document|