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Roy David, Sr., Part 1

Roy David, Sr. was interviewed on December 10, 2013 by Barbara Cellarius and Leslie McCartney at the school in Tetlin, Alaska. In this first part of a two part interview, Roy talks about his life growing up in Tetlin following a traditional lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping. He talks about the big community garden that used to be in Tetlin as well as the school and some of his favorite teachers. He discusses land use and traplines around Tetlin and connections with Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, while marking areas on a map. Roy also talks about his former use of alcohol and a near fatal hunting accident that turned his life around.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2013-14-02_PT.1

Project: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Date of Interview: Dec 10, 2013
Narrator(s): Roy David, Sr.
Interviewer(s): Leslie McCartney, Barbara Cellarius
Videographer: Leslie McCartney
Transcriber: Joan O'Leary
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

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


Childhood and family background

Garden in Tetlin and food preservation

Traditional resource use and management

School in Tetlin

Learning Athabascan language

Going to school and teachers

Muskrat trapping and fur trading

Traplines and place names

Story about young women marrying old trapper

Growing up trapping and fishing

Living and working at Forty-Mile Roadhouse

Gardening, trading, and construction of airstrip

Acquiring land rights

Eating healthy subsistence food

Changes seen on the land and in the community

Last Tetlin Village

Personal experience with alcohol

Parent's family background

Getting married, having children and grandchildren

Work as alcohol counselor, for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and as public safety officer

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


LESLIE McCARTNEY: And today is December the 10th, 2013 and Roy, thanks again for agreeing to let us come and talk to you.

And we'd just like to start off knowing a little bit about your life, your name, and when you were born and your family.

ROY DAVID: Okay. First of all I would deeply appreciate the state high school right here -- the one let us have, you know, and I talk with them they say they would be glad -- they would be glad to help us out.

Every time, with their help, they always say look for me, you know, since I’m an old-timer in the village of Tetlin because long time registering in Tetlin.

I born -- not in the village but out distance from about 11 mile away from Tetlin was where I born.

A long time ago in 1937, February 28th. That’s where I born at Midway Lake.

On the other side probably around 11 mile and a half from here to that -- they call Midway with our language Toochin. From the beginning all the way through. The name Toochin (Mann') Midway Lake).

So I was born in -- it’s almost like a -- my dad and mom they always pitch those tent, you know, like a tent.


ROY DAVID: Tent for white wall and they have some kind of a like a wood stove and nice looking stove pipe on safe side and they covered that tent with an old moose skin -- dried one, you know, just like tarp you know.

Just like tarp make us warm. In cold weather don’t even bother them. Them days they cover with those snowing and wet it with the snow and with just like insulate with ice, you know, it’s kinda, nice and warm.

That’s where I born 1937. I'm a fourth one from my parents.

My dad name is Titus David and my mother’s name was Jessie David. That’s the one I came from.

And my older sister was Kathryn David. And my brother name Adam, too, David and Bentley, that from the third one Bentley and I’m fourth one it’s me Roy David.

And next one to me the fifth was Lydia, my sister. And my other brother name Walter David.

Walter David was we all -- we all raised up right here in the village of Tetlin sinc -- from there.

My older sister born in 1932 and my brother Adam was born in 1935 -- ’35 and Bentley 1936 and I born in 1937.

And right after that 1938 Lydia, in 1939 Walter. That’s where we all born in 1930.

And some day we always stay around here. When I was born, my older sister Kathryn was five years old when I was born.

And four years old my oldest brother named Adam, and three years old was Bentley -- Bentley from there and fourth one is me.

Any question there?

LESLIE McCARTNEY: No, that’s great.

ROY DAVID: Well continue --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Were your parents from this area, too?


ROY DAVID: They -- they moved us back in the village of Tetlin right here -- always Tetlin.

We always move back from where camp area, you know, fishing.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Was it fish camp?

ROY DAVID: Fish camp in or maybe it's a hunting camp or full time like fishing, you know, for hunting and hunting ducks and hunting muskrat everything so we live by.

And around June month we all come back to the village of Tetlin. We start race. We all get together -- not only me, the whole village. That’s the one you see those picture.


ROY DAVID: On state high school because these people working for garden -- garden, you know, they raised --

I do remember they raised those spuds, you know, those potatoes.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Potatoes. ROY DAVID: Yeah. And cabbage and lettuce and carrots, turnip. And I see every day they water, water, water, you know. Those coffee cans -- those tin cans. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: You know, they'd punch hole with needle, you know, and they --


ROY DAVID: Make big bucket and after that they just water it down -- beautiful -- by the time around late September it really -- garden really full grown, you know.

Carrots were about this long, this wide, they were beautiful.

Cabbage about this big. I do remember. I can’t even go around.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Put your arms about them?

ROY DAVID: Round leaf, you know, just like leaf, you know, just covers like that inside them. Talk about big ones.

And my dad -- them days we don’t have no deep freezer, no refrigerator.

So my dad dig hole down there until he hit permafrost.


ROY DAVID: That’s where we put our meat there, moose meat, caribou meat, dry fish, you know. Put it down there for during the wintertime and that’s how they freeze.

In the same time, around late September they pick some cranberries, and early around July they pick up blueberries and raspberries. All kind -- they make a jelly out of that.

And caribou and moose fat are what they use for grease, you know, really good so they fry biscuit. Biscuit -- it really -- it's really just like frying bread. That’s what they call Indian biscuit, right.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Did they grind the marrow and use the moose grease?



ROY DAVID: And from there they always keep the law just like today they keep the law about animals. We can’t kill -- we can’t kill cow moose.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. ROY DAVID: That’s a real law around here in the village. And the village control -- control us -- village council control and we can’t shoot those ducks during springtime until fall time they tell us. So --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So there’s a time of year you can’t shoot ducks?

ROY DAVID: Yeah, we can’t collect those eggs. We got to use -- we got to -- They got to growing.

They got a beautiful law for those things. And like fall time, again we start going down farther and we start cutting wood, you know, with bow saw. What they call bow saw. It kind of look like a bow.


ROY DAVID: And it’s just a blade. It really could cut faster than those big swede saw, you know, the one they cut -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: Right.

ROY DAVID: That’s faster. And they make the cordwood, but they working hard.

And later on my mom would dry -- dry fish with whitefish. And also they dry -- dry moose meat, you know. They call it beef jerk. Almost just like beef jerk.


ROY DAVID: And dry fish, too. They call it -- they feed them with tallow just like a tallow moose fat, you know, and --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Do you do that before you eat it?



ROY DAVID: And boy I tell you really good. It really -- just like vitamins.


ROY DAVID: Just like that cut -- just like cuttle oil (phonetic)

. Almost same fish oil -- fish oil or anything -- moose fat.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Do you make that out of the heads?

ROY DAVID: Yep. Moose -- moose -- once they used the fat out of them.


ROY DAVID: And they use moose skin. Like my dad always cut those fur, you know, those when he kill them.

And my mother take some kind like a little crack and just peel it -- peel back all the skin, you know.

Just like a skin peel off and that is just like they shave it down really good and it dried and put it on just like --

just like paper, you know, but stronger -- just like cardboard box. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: Almost seemed cardboard box and they dry it. After that they take it down to creek. They soak it under water probably about four, five days to soak it good, you know.

And they’d take it out -- they take it out and after that they just tan it.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Do they use the brains for tanning, Roy?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. They tan it. They keep tan -- keep tan until it's really soft -- nice and soft.

And after that they going up to the mountain bring those wood, you know, that’s not really dry wood but rotten wood they call it.

You know, that's the one they burn inside, so skin turn to color, like turn to color.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Rotten willows?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. They -- they turn to color and after that they make those moccasin.

And they make it a gloves and sometimes they make vests -- sometimes they make Christmas -- Christmas, you know, like -- like every year we have a good Christmas, you know. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: Just one. And on and on like that.

So 19 -- I hear a story, late my dad his dad name -- his father named Chief David from right here.

That’s the one taught my dad so many things about my dad is carpenter.

That’s the one my dad 1930 he built BIA school, 30 x 30 school.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So was that the first school in the village?

ROY DAVID: That’s the first school, yeah. First school.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And it was in 1930?

ROY DAVID: Yeah, 1930.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So did you go to that school?

ROY DAVID: No, no, no, 1937 that time I born.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: No, no, but I mean is that where you -- did you go to school when you were a child?

ROY DAVID: I going to tell a story. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay.

ROY DAVID: This building 19 -- probably 1932 it burned down.


ROY DAVID: It burned down, so they lost it. So he built another one 60 x 30.


ROY DAVID: Yeah. All the village they turn in to -- that’s where school, attend my school --

My first teacher name -- I don’t know how to spell it, but Delanger -- Delanger, that’s all I remember.


ROY DAVID: Yeah, Delanger, I remember that one. Delanger's first one. His wife -- that’s the one that teach us how --

That school right there is not like this, you know. We all crowd in there -- crowd in there, you know, first grade, second grade.

First grade I do remember. I do remember as far --

I do remember my late sister named Kathryn she was eighth, ninth grade at time. I see Donald Joe, late Donald Joe in school and Patrick Joe, all of them.

I see them from there all the way through to 19 -- 1940 -- all the way through. And BIA I do remember.

This BIA log building. We -- I made it to sixth grade, yeah, sixth grade when I was 11 years old.

And 11 years old I been at BIA school and I thought I smart. This is where I made great mistake. I think I smart and I got -- when I get into the sixth grade when I was 11 years old I thought I was more smart than my --

Of course I used to laugh at people for -- thye don't -- they don't -- great -- great high like me, you know, and I used to make fun out of them.

When I get a little older, I shouldn’t say that. Today -- today I use it.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Can I ask about your language? Did your parents and all your brothers and sister speak your language or --

ROY DAVID: Yes, all of us speak with Athabascan language because my mom taught us how. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Right.

ROY DAVID: And my dad taught us how. And also my dad mother name, Martha, she remarried -- she remarried at the time Chief David, the one die, and she married to Chief Luke.

And she married with the Chief Luke from Copper Center.

And -- and from there my mother teach us how -- how to speak Athabascan inside translation to English, you know, English.

And number one from there Delanger is retired. So lots of good schoolteacher I go through. I do remember. I go through a lot of good schoolteacher.

And last one, so far the best one, Everett J. Wild from BIA. That’s the one that teach us lot of things in school about the program inside school.

Like when Christmas coming we all work hard, you know. He teach us lot of how to work and even carpentry.

Teach us how, and my dad same time. We make a swing, you know, those where kids can play, you know, those swing.

And after that we -- we -- he teach us how to fix those chimney, you know, those -- with cardboard box, you know, so -- so -- just so we have Christmas play.

And we study Christmas program all the way through with story by the teacher Mrs. Wild teach us how program, you know.

So having come to attend those Christmas story they like to hear, you know, so same time we make a Santa Claus -- my dad too, yes.

Santa Claus the one we -- my dad was Santa Claus for long time, and Alfred Adam was Santa Claus, too, and Titus Paul. Every one of them to be Santa Claus every year.

And every year they going and Mrs. Wild taught us a lot of -- a lot of good things about history. This is how we really start and pretty soon --

1942 that’s a time when I was young and I see the first road in Tetlin.

That’s where I born and I see the highway -- the highway -- because Army made. I do remember Army -- Army came to the village of Tetlin to talk with those.

Them days we have chief name Peter Joe. That’s Peter -- old Chief Peter Joe -- the one history story.

That’s my -- my great grandfather Chief David’s son-in-law. Married to one of his daughter whose name -- her name Eva.

And she be -- that’s the one and Jeannie married to Chief Peter brother name Jimmie Joe. That’s how the family start out right here.

And we raise up. We go to the camp -- camp back there about 12 miles from here they call Cle -- they call Cle like Cle'chuk(Athabascan phonetic), you know, like Cle. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: Like Cle. Cle'ching -- ching like a ching (Athabascan phonetic) made like a -- yeah, there you go.

Yes, clay chain, that’s what they talk about,

And that's where my dad every year took us there for hunting muskrat, you know, every time.

Like around June month we all come back every time. In fall time we go back there on and on.

So we pick up berries. We do here we go again.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So was the muskrat also for selling furs?

ROY DAVID: Yep. Them days a dollar and a half rats. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

ROY DAVID: And those body they sell to the village some time two dollars. My mother make money, yeah, she make money.

Sometimes she make living with those moose hide where she sell moccasin to Tok -- not Tok -- they call that store N’s -- I don’t know how -- NCC they call.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Oh. ROY DAVID: I don’t what --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Northern Commercial Company.

ROY DAVID: Yeah, that’s the one. Used to be a store down there. Down Tok his name, I do remember his name Traffic (phonetic) that’s the one buy from the village.

Buy beaver. Buy wolf. Buy fox and mink and also lynx and also a lot wolverine. A lot of peoples really trap around here. They make a living with --

Let's see, they don’t work. You know, these people make a living by wildlife around here. That’s I see -- I see a lot of things when they bring back a lot of good food too same time, you know.

I do remember they bring the fresh apples. Boy did we like those apples.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. ROY DAVID: We like oranges, you know, the fresh one and the --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So, your dad had a big trapline?

ROY DAVID: We got a big trapline like a -- Tetlin right here.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Can we look at a map?


LESLIE McCARTNEY: Let’s do that.

ROY DAVID: Okay. I'm glad.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: You find the right map there and I’ll find the markers. And then you can mark on it, Roy. Where the trapline started right?

ROY DAVID: All right. That’s a long way sometime they trap.


ROY DAVID: Yeah, about that --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So here’s the lake.

ROY DAVID: That’s Midway -- I've been -- This is Tetlin Big Lake. That’s a --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Here, we’ll give you a marker.

ROY DAVID: Twelve. Okay.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: You pick what color?

ROY DAVID: Let’s say light green closest. No, no, dark green.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Okay. That’s blue.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: That’s blue. Do you want the dark green?

ROY DAVID: Yeah, dark green. Okay.

That’s history story about from Tetlin to Midway Lake right here, see.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Oh, that’s Midway Lake. On the road, that’s why you saw --

ROY DAVID: Where's Tetlin --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: This says Mid -- is that Midway? I think this is Midway Lake. ROY DAVID: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: This is Tetlin Lake.

ROY DAVID: Yeah, Tetlin Lake, but Tetlin -- here, here, Tetlin, okay.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So, is this the village?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. You see trapline been used -- Let’s say Tetlin Creek, right here.


ROY DAVID: That’s David Mark right here trapping.


ROY DAVID: That’s Logging Lake they call. And on and on, they call Gasoline Lake right here, Andrew David.


ROY DAVID: Andrew David used the trapline for all up this too and --

And it's been covered lot -- lot. After that Joe John and Paul Joe.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So those are different peoples’ traplines?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. And let’s see, that Titus Paul right here.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah, that says Titus Paul Hill?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. Titus Paul and right here my dad traveled from Tetlin right here.


ROY DAVID: And Midway -- where am I at now? Right here.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So this -- this says Midway Lake.

ROY DAVID: Midway, yeah. All this lake all the way been using.


ROY DAVID: All this was used just and --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So did he go --

ROY DAVID: And Frank Titus -- Frank Titus used it right too. Out land, you know, he been use quite a bit.

This -- this mostly Last Tetlin (Last Tetlin Village) that’s where --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Did the village -- ROY DAVID: We take a boat -- boat


ROY DAVID: That’s where we take tourists. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: Tourists and hunting, you know, like for moose or some time -- not too far -- to mountain right here, you know.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. ROY DAVID: That’s for moose and sheep, grizzly bear for their hunting.

It's been land -- land has been used quite a bit, yeah, right here. That’s the main camp around all this lake.

They've been -- you go round the lake -- round the lake they go around with right now they got snowmachine. They been -- It's been used a lot in all the history.

And from Midway and all the way down to Ladue (River) to the trap.


ROY DAVID: All the way down some place -- some place to get the cabin down there.

And they call Denson -- Denson Lake -- I don’t know where -- Denson Lake.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: This is Dennison Fork.

ROY DAVID: Yeah, lake, they got this lake on there.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: I’m not seeing many lakes up there.

ROY DAVID: That’s strange. They got lake anyway from Midway --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: There’s a lake with that name?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. They got Denson Lake, they call.


ROY DAVID: From Ladue you pass off Ladue and after that from they call Porcupine -- Porcupine Creek, they say that’s where they trapping and they call Riverside Lodge right here. That’s where they got that store.


ROY DAVID: That’s used to name Serg -- Sergie. That’s the one run store he buy fur from us.


ROY DAVID: Yeah. And I don’t know where he is he that guy no more Sergie. That’s the one.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So not -- so close to North -- ROY DAVID: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Northway Junction.

ROY DAVID: Yeah. Uh-huh, but we go with dog team.


ROY DAVID: And not too far. They call from Tsel'cheg (Athabascan phonetic) it's not too far from this Big John Hill. This place -- Herman Jean been used and Dog Lake they call Frank Titus -- Frank Titus and right here K'aadzeey (Männ’), they call Chief Luke.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So -- so these are where they started their traplines or where --

ROY DAVID: Yeah, trapline. All been used, but they don’t hardly use Porcupine. Except one man.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Just one man uses Porcupine.

ROY DAVID: One man that's all named -- Porcupine Creek they call. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: But -- but our language mean Ts'iit. Ts'iit, you know that like --like -- Let me explain to you right now. Like -- Just like a -- just like -- just like Jeliis, they call that cross, you know.


ROY DAVID: Like -- like. Jeliis, they -- that’s how that land been used for -- for fur, hunting. Fur hunting, just like an umbrella they call it -- just like umbrella. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay.

ROY DAVID: Yeah. This Niłjet-tthaayh, you know, this Niłjet-tthaayh. Chąą jaadh, "from rain," they say. That’s the one they talk about, an umbrella.

But never been used as trail Porcupine one man because Ts'iik which what they -- they call sickness, you know, like sickness yeah. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay.

ROY DAVID: Now sickness, we don’t want to get sickness so this land been used but Ts'iik, Ts'iik.

One man his name is Old Albrich (phoentic). Name Old Albrich, he got the cabin down there 17 mile from there -- 17 mile he got the cabin some place -- still -- still there at 17 Mile. It been used lot.

That’s place two womans from Canada moved -- not from Canada. Scottie Creek.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Scottie Creek, yeah. ROY DAVID: Yeah, Scottie Creek -- her name was Get -- Get old lady. She's but small old lady. And she talk with Chief David, my great grandfather.

We just came here to visit you -- that old lady looking for husband and she -- my great grandpa knew about, but he figure out that old man was here 17 Mile. That -- he got the cabin there he told him.

And they was going to go back. They say Chief David, my uncle, we’re going to go back same place. No, you before you go see that old -- so she's kind of like a little -- she’s glad to hear about, you know.

So they -- here they go and they walk all the way through by this time, this summer, until they meet that old man. Old man got nice cabin with axe.

Axe that’s all he make it, you know, just beautiful. He even curved the axe with table.

He make stool chair with -- that's from timber wood, you know. The spruce tree. And he makes those dimond willow from spruce -- diamond willow from birch, you know.

And he make those table, beautiful table, and he make it a small c-- He went back to trapline and by the time -- By the time two girls arrive his cabin. And he came back.

He got a little surprised when two -- and when he see two girls out there. Later on he started -- they eat together, you know, later on, but that old man get up and say why do you come?

And Chief David sent up there -- for what, did he tell them. Well, we like to stay with you. We make some kind of hot water for you.

And at that time he started from there they get married. From there all the way through. That’s the story.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So, Roy, when you were young did you go out on the traplines with your dad?

ROY DAVID: Sometime like -- I’ve been trapping all my lifetime, yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Really.

ROY DAVID: Oh, my lifetime we make living with -- mostly with muskrat.

And like doing full time like we make it with wild fur like mink. And sometimes we catch beaver.

And sometimes we catch a otter. Sometimes we catch marten. Marten mostly we catch and we call Tsuug

And we do ice fishing, too, same time -- ice fishing, boy it's there -- during the wintertime you could see any kind of fish.

We'll fix those spear, you know. My dad take a spear so we just bring a lot of -- sometimes those black -- black long fish we catch. Ling cod they call.

They got good -- good liver and that's what we save it and we bring back to the village.

Sometimes we feed those elder people, you know. That’s how we get taught how.

And this is how -- 1942 that place my last school. But 1952 that place my last school BIA. 1952 right here at the school -- school.

And from there I move out from my dad and mom when I was 14 years old.

And all I could learn by something by myself, you know, I like to work. I like to stay alone just to try out if people could do -- could make some kind of -- I like to try alone I told my dad.

Keep dreaming that way, but I'll teach you a lot of way he told me. So I move out 14 years old I move out.

I went -- when I was 14 years old I went to meet those white people from roadhouse.

His name Ray Scoby and Red Post (phonetic) and they building those café. One little café they build.

And I introduced myself I want to get job right here. They tell -- they ask me why you want travel alone for your age they told me.

I just want to get away from village I told.

Well, we’ll keep you for a while they told me. And they did keep me for a while.

I do remember Mabel Scoby, and she got son same age me. Boy I really glad.

His name Jack Scoby, and his youngest sister was name Joanne. That place, we always stay together.

We got different room, you know, but we kind of like brother and sister. Indian like me I got a brother.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So was -- was that at Tetlin? Where was the café?

ROY DAVID: Uh, Forty-Mile Roadhouse, Tetlin Junction.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Tetlin Junction, okay.

ROY DAVID: Yeah, yeah, Tetlin Junction. That’s where Taylor Highway go up. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yep.

ROY DAVID: And that’s where -- that’s where they build a little café. Little place. And pretty soon, I stay about one month -- two, three months. Pretty soon Mrs. Scoby buy me those -- those arithmetic -- those school you know, those -- that’s where home class -- home clase you study.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Some school books?

ROY DAVID: Yeah, school book. When I was 22 years old they let me go, yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So you were there for many years?

ROY DAVID: Yeah, many years I been stay with -- I call them mom and dad. Well, I used to be dog musher for them too, you know.


ROY DAVID: Yeah. When I got beat, I came second place with their team. And other year I keep try. I came with second again.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Which race was this in, Roy?

ROY DAVID: Dog race.


ROY DAVID: Yeah. Eight mile. First eight mile in 1961. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: I set new track record with those dogs -- with those team.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Was that in -- in Tok or --?


ROY DAVID: And I beat them all.


ROY DAVID: Two -- two eight mile and two twelve -- two sixteen, I won them all. And Charles David, Jr. won three dogger, and Gary David win five dogger, and Daryl (phonetic) David two dogger -- all David won that year.

This is how. All the way through I've been searching -- like today last I see 1963 I came back to the village of Tetlin.

That’s the place I see the one I attended school. They broke down the old thing. They build new school. That the one school. That’s the one you see down -- next one out there.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. ROY DAVID: 1963. That’s who built this -- The BIA run it for a while, but later on state take over -- that’s a start.


ROY DAVID: Any more question? Be glad.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: I wanted to ask about the gardening.

ROY DAVID: Yeah. BARBARA CELLARIUS: We saw the pictures of the very big garden and you were telling us about how big the garden is.

Do you know when people in Tetlin started gardening?

ROY DAVID: Oh, all of their lifetime. BARBARA CELLARIUS: So --

ROY DAVID: I don’t know who.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: From as long you remember?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. I don’t know who bring those seed, but I do remember those trading like that, trading people the ones got the store in village Tetlin name John Hajdukovich that’s all I know.


ROY DAVID: And Herman Ketzler, too. And Jonesy, too. Jonesy, too, from there. That’s the ones that got stories to be -- other side. And he used to have store at the Last Tetlin (Village), they call.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay. ROY DAVID: That’s where they buy fur.

And also Mr. Flanigan. They call Flanigan. He’s a fur buyer and dock. He used to bring with freight like groceries, you know, they call -- store for store they bring for.

They got contract and that’s where the start that really build up. Now I said build up, build up, build up and still today I see build up.

And that’s the one you see it in the school all the way around.

Used to be no airstrip. Airstrip is --


BARBARA CELLARIUS: 1944 is when you got the airstrip?

ROY DAVID: Yeah, that's the place John and them build. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: John Hajdukovich.


ROY DAVID: Yeah, that’s the one he build and BIA paid them and my dad was catskin for them. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: And Sal Solomon from Tanacross that the one catskin for them.

And Mals Thomas is the one do some kind like made this work, too, you know. He’s from Tanacross. That’s where they build.

And no more garden up there. People get really disappoint.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Oh, so they stopped -- had to stop gardening. ROY DAVID: Yeah. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Then? ROY DAVID: Yeah. BARBARA CELLARIUS: So they --

ROY DAVID: When they build --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: When they build the airstrip?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. Used to be all the way down gardening -- all the way down. Everything grow up. It’s pretty good.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: And did people stay in the village in the summer to water the garden?

ROY DAVID: Every day. They had to right it -- right down there creek. You know it's not that works. Sometimes even the kids work.

That’s where fresh vegetables. I believe that fresh vegetables that’s really good healthy, you know. Them days people now are sick. I believe that nobody sick in Tetlin -- nothing.

Nobody sick because they eat right food and right -- some kind growing, really growing like turnip, spuds and cabbage, everything, you know, they cook. It’s right, you know.

And the Tetlin people, even my mother and dad, I always notice them when they cook something they told us before you come -- come in, wash your hands, you know. That’s all that we get taught.

Before you touch -- before you go and eat you wash your hands they told us.

The teacher proud for us when they see us with -- well if those people -- (sneezes) Excuse me (sneezes).

And John see that peoples are working. They try. They try, so -- so I go and help these people he said John I’m going to put the land for the --

So they have meeting with village council again, you know, so that’s how we get our land right here is from --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Do you remember what year?

ROY DAVID: I think probably around late 1934, they say.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Okay. So, before you were born?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. And the reason why John -- because John see it because he -- he has got the store to prove it. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Right.

ROY DAVID: He got the store. He see people are working too, you know. And he see people growing garden.

And he see the people are hunting. Everything they do, right way, you know. And they keep law right way, too, and pretty soon he helped them to get those land.

Like I don’t know how many million acres.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: I’ve -- I’ve seen a map -- ROY DAVID: Yeah. BARBARA CELLARIUS: That has the outline as --

ROY DAVID: Yeah. And he put them -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: As the reserve --

ROY DAVID: And pretty soon he going to survey the land all the way around that’s the time.

Everett J. Wild is one reason step in. He help us, too, that one, too. BIA. But he passed away though that guy.

Used to be ex-teacher.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: But not only were the vegetables good, but the meat you must have hunted and the fish that you -- you --

ROY DAVID: Fish is better, too.


ROY DAVID: Fish. Any kind of fish. I don’t care what kind fish, it’s good.

Northern pike is good and also ling cod they call it Ribbits (means burbot), you know like burbot’s what they call that black one. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: Big, big long one.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah, I think sometimes burbot?

ROY DAVID: Yeah, burbot, that's the one. But if you cut open and get those liver -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: When you cook that’s just like vitamins -- just like vitamin.

And on ground -- ground too that they call roots, you know, like a sweet taste, you know. They got the beautiful flower.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Is it the tsass? (Tsass is Ahtna word for Indian potato (Hedysarum alpinum). Upper Tanana name for it is Tsuu.) ROY DAVID: Yeah. It's these -- What's that?


ROY DAVID: How where you learn that?

BARBARA CELLARIUS: If they -- I live in Copper Center and so the I have friends who are Ahtna.

ROY DAVID: My, my, my, that’s she talk before me.

You know, that’s the one -- sometime really they get a cold thing -- bunch up, you know. And a bunch about this and wash it really nice and good.

And after that they cut a piece and they fry. Fry, boy, they're just like fresh vitamins you eat. Make you hungry.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So Roy do people still go out and hunt a lot on the land and fish and --

ROY DAVID: Yeah, still. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Still?

ROY DAVID: Still, yeah, because -- because moose really they sit tight with it right now because they talk with those State Fish & Game, outsider, not kill them, you know.

So Fish & Game watch very close so they give us a hand.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Well, the land around here is -- it's village land, right?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. Village yeah. Uh-huh.

LESLIE MC CARTNEY: Have you noticed any changes over the years and -- in the land?

ROY DAVID: Well, it's a lot of change I see is in the land right here.


ROY DAVID: Well, because when I see -- I used to travel with boat to Midway. Right now they got snowmachine.

It change quite a bit. Okay. When I see Tetlin used to have garden. When they build airstrip, no more garden. It changed.

It just like vanish away, but a few of them growing some, but --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So did some people have a little garden at their house?


ROY DAVID: So it -- so I don’t see the big garden.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: But no big community garden?

ROY DAVID: No, no, no. I don’t see that way any more. And I’ve seen -- used to be that airstrip now it's turned to highway.

And they build more bigger airstrip down there. And I see more different kind of plane come in -- twin.


ROY DAVID: Bigger plane, more prop. Now I see a lot of things change because we don’t still have those --

we used to have boat 27 foot long and probably about two and a half foot wide. And we used to have Johnson 9 horsepower and now they got 40 horsepower, 50 horsepower, a lot of change.

More speed, more speed.

Old Alto used to have 5 horsepower. We used to have -- we had the fastest boat, you know. Them days we have canoe, you know.


ROY DAVID: And now a lot of change today. I see lots of change even the creek.

If I go out by a creek right now at Tetlin I see a lot of streams that I don’t see before. It changed you know.

And I see the lake, it pop out. It be turned to grass. I see a lot of change.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So the lake is getting -- ROY DAVID: Yep, yep.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Is turning into a meadow?

ROY DAVID: Yep. I see a lot of change. And I see mountain lot of change because it used to be beautiful green, you remember. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: It used to be green -- it's all fire. All fire. A lot of change.

Pretty soon people start come in to get wood, you know. They make deal with the village council. They cut wood, you know. It's not like before. I see a lot of road too, you know.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: The new road that comes right to the highway. ROY DAVID: Yeah,

LESLIE McCARTNEY: When did they build that, Roy?

ROY DAVID: Probably in late 1980 some days.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And that really would have changed village life.

ROY DAVID: It changed. Well, I see lots -- I hate to say -- Sure, I hate to admit that a lot of drinking going on, lots of dope going on right now. That’s all --

Best way we have -- them days what we have village like that we don’t have no problem because village council look at us, what time limit do we go home.

I do remember when -- when I was in school -- school by hour 8:30 night time we all got to stay home.


ROY DAVID: You see no more of that you see. Or something to do in a village we always can cut wood for the village elder people, you know, like old people.

That old lady or old -- we cut wood for them, bring water for them, you know. A bunch of us we do.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So you would help people?

ROY DAVID: Yeah, old peo -- help elder, yeah, so. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: So we don’t want to lose old people so they -- so that’s how sometime we bank up their house too during summertime, you know, like let’s keep it warm too, you know.

And we just help as much as we can. And today I see a lot of changes. I sure would like to see that garden back for the village of Tetlin. This is my dream.

Today now I look at my myself, 77 years old now I am, yeah and I’d be glad to talk with my young ones, you know, like I got my granddaughter, grandboys all in high school so I see a lot of a basketball player.

And I see lots -- lots -- we don’t have school like this you know. Them days we pack -- pack in crowd. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: And crowds -- it's not like this but right now you got no room. They got that gym. That’s a real change. I don’t play basketball like that.

I don’t see the basketball like that. Mostly I play baseball that’s about it, and volleyball and swing is about it.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Your granddaughter Eva mentioned that there used to be an old Tetlin and this -- this side and --

ROY DAVID: Used to be Old Tetlin, but nine miles up. They call it --


ROY DAVID: I don’t know why they call Last Tetlin. It should be First Tetlin. And this one's supposed to be Last Tetlin, you know, this is how --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: And so they were both fish camps?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. LESLIE McCARTNEY: And then so why did people decide to stay here and not at the other community? What --

ROY DAVID: It kind of like close by. I think like that close by like close by to the school building right here, you know.

They don’t have no school on first village Tetlin, you know, so they got the school right here since 1930.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So when they built the school then more people came and lived here?

ROY DAVID: Yep. Yep. Uh-huh. They live right here. So their kids can learn more.

The wise way to do it and they did it, yeah.

And my life story about -- here we go again -- 19 -- what I just say, 19 --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: It's --Did you say in ’63 you came back to the village?

ROY DAVID: Yeah, yeah ’63 -- 1961 -- ’61 the place I shouldn’t have done that I tell you. Start alcohol, you know -- BARBARA CELLARIUS: Oh.

ROY DAVID: Like drinking. This is why I try to help young people as much as I can. It's against my will. I don’t like to drink, but I start drink. I don’t know why.

Because I think -- I think I cool, I think, but I’m not cool when drinking. It went down.

Like I can’t hunt like I used to. I lose something, you know. I lost fish. Usually I go take my girlfriend out, you know, fishing I like it. It a lot of fun, but when I start drinking I lose it.

I start losing my good girlfriend, too. I lose everything. I lost a good girlfriend just because of --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Because of drink?

ROY DAVID: -- alcohol, yeah. Alcohol. She’s a white lady, but -- but that’s how dirty drink go.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So how did you stop drinking then?

ROY DAVID: Well, it’s on and on until I get married with my wife named Cora. She passed away just not too long ago -- December 18th.

And my life -- I've been with alcohol by 1974 this place. This place where we went out fishing. Same place where they call Grillin Stream.

We fishing that place. I took Joe Young, the timber sale down there, that one you see, the one with me. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: And Gary David with me and my son with me, four of us, we went out fishing. I like fishing there, too. For grayling, Here we are.

But I carry a pistol wrong and, you know, pretty soon it's drop and fire right through my stomach and hit my -- through my stomach and went through my liver and in my back.

And from there I know I am going to die. They sit me down to the boat site way. Joe Young could do any way to stop the blood.

The next thing the time when I got shot everything come down, you know, feather, like down -- I wear down parka, you know and I got shot.

And he did stuff a lot, but from there one hour to the big lake in one hour across -- you go across big lake there. I think big lake is the one that damaged me quite a bit them days.

Big storm, you know, coming, but we go through there, but I went to -- almost went to sleep right here, oh, almost because blood just keep bleeding.

At the same time when we arrive in village -- same time those village boys went out firefighter. That’s a plane.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. ROY DAVID: Arrived that’s when they took me to Fairbanks and that’s how they saved my life.

And from there I get treatment down in Fairbanks. I make up my mind right there.

They told me -- they told me, but I just pray right here when I got shot. I did prayer.

The first time -- the first time I pray. I say God tell me but I heard many story -- good story about where you -- but if I die they forgive it all, but if you spare my life back I’ll testify to anybody I tell.

Now I talk with you 77 years old. That’s 1974. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: The 1974. July 3, Wednesday, 1:30.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: So you remember very specific.

ROY DAVID: 1:30.


BARBARA CELLARIUS: Exactly when it happened.

ROY DAVID: From there I never going to forget that. That stay. I used to drink.

I left everything behind from there I promised to my dad and mom, and promised to my wife, promised to my kids, I tell them I’m not going to look back and today --

When I got shot 1974 today was 2013. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: Up to this date I never able to look back to liquor. I’m still mad at those liquor, so my life changed.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: For the better.

ROY DAVID: Yeah, it's getting better. It make me speak a lot of people in pop’s place too, you know, some place like if we go I’m glad -- they make me tell story about old time story, too.

You know, a lot of time what my wife teach me -- my dad taught me how and my mother taught me how same story -- old time story, like I’d be glad to tell story and I’ll be glad to help.


ROY DAVID: This is my story. I will sure help -- help, but -- but before closing time -- my dad is from right here the village Tetlin, too, but his mother from Copper Center.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh. ROY DAVID: His name Martha Luke.

And that’s where his mom from and his dad from Chief David. That’s the one born right here -- right here.

And my mother was from Tanacross, from Kechumstuk. And his dad was -- her dad was Chief David -- not Chief David but (inaudible) David’s dad and just David -- that’s my mother dad named Chief Walter Isaac from Tanacross, too. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: That’s where my mother from. And from there -- In 1955 my dad used to have alcohol problem too same way until Kathryn pass away -- my older sister pass away down Seward.

And my dad was real bad about -- really feel bad about he'd been drinking, but friends come -- good friends come around why do you drink?

Pretty soon he'd say he lost his daughter. Well, he never say quit. He’d just get up. Later on. The one you drink is not going to help you, but the person that going to help you -- the child the one -- your child love you that little baby girl your daughter got fingerprints still on your face yet.

That's make my dad change right there. I remember my dad say Lord help me.

This bottle -- bottles I'm going to spill right in front of your face. He tell you to take spill. My dad left that drink -- 1947 and Kathryn first one died.

No, Adam was die too that spring time (inaudible) and Bentley died before -- that die and Lydia die. And Walter die, except me.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Just you left?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. No, 1955. LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah.

ROY DAVID: 1955, my dad and mom adopt one girl form Koyukuk, too, is name Lydia David.

She been stay here a long time in Tetlin Village and after that she moved down to Portland, Oregon. She got married down there and she still live down there yet. Yeah, so --

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So when did you and Cora get married then?

ROY DAVID: We got married in 1969.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Okay. And how many children did you have? We met lots of your grandchildren out there.

ROY DAVID: Well, I don’t have that really children, but mostly that I have my daughter Lydia, named Lydia. And son Roy David, Jr. And my stepson was Danny Adam. And my stepdaughter was Terri -- yeah, Terri.

So there's a four -- four kids I got. And from there I got a lot of grandchildren. I got all --

all that’s from two side of story.

My dad’s side all of them. You see Annie Joe family of them -- all of them. My relative Paul Joe family all of my relative and Alfa -- I got a big family around here mostly.

Like Annie Joe family that’s the one, the history story. She made that song too like --

She’s not here anymore, but she made the song. And also my great aunt named Kitty David. She make that song for us -- like Indian song, you know, song leader and that’s how.

And from there I still got brother named Charlie David. That’s the one Charlie David, Sr., that's the one getting too old, too. He's about 90 -- way past 90 years old right now.

And his son was down in Mentasta named Charles David, Jr. too. That’s the one you know.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah, I know Charles.

ROY DAVID: Yeah, that’s the one. He has got the families down so that’s a big family down there, too.

And also I want to thank the many -- many ways like my life has been changed I like to help much as I can to everyone, yeah.

Don’t forget I play -- I play guitar, too.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: That’s what Connie told me. ROY DAVID: Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: You know Connie Friend?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. Yeah.

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Yeah, she told me you played guitar.

ROY DAVID: Yeah. Yeah, she used to work with my wife, yeah, yeah, about language, too. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: Yeah, she’s good.


ROY DAVID: Good personality. I used to work with alcohol counseling, too, with her, yeah.


BARBARA CELLARIUS: So is that one of the things you did in your -- in your career?

ROY DAVID: Yeah. I do a lot -- no time to -- but job I go to used to be Alaska State Trooper, too. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: The time -- I can’t be trooper because I got shot, too, you know, so I get back to village policeman instead, so --


ROY DAVID: And later on I got to do VPSO (Village Public Safety Officer) and I got back to alcohol counseling.


ROY DAVID: And from there I start to go to -- going to the pipeline (Trans-Alaska Pipeline), you know, pipeline. BARBARA CELLARIUS: Uh-huh.

ROY DAVID: Number through years. The reason why I don’t like to work with pipeline because it depend on me too much, you know, because

those guys they both let me go nine weeks, you know, instead February go by, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November -- pretty soon I can’t stand seven days a week, you know.


ROY DAVID: I tell them I can’t stand because seven days of work I need rest I tell them. I need to go home. I quit or leave I told them.

They told me, we let you go for two weeks and come back they told me. I got out from there I never go back there from this day.

No, I can’t stand no more. Money is good, but I can’t stand.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: So when you come you back, would you go out on the land at all then --

ROY DAVID: Yeah, I go back to trap yeah.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Trapping and fishing and --

ROY DAVID: Trapping and fishing that’s the best, yeah. That’s my style.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Yeah. And did you ever go down into where the park is now or were you mostly --

BARBARA CELLARIUS: Did you go further south?

ROY DAVID: I can go any way, yeah with right now with snowmachine.

LESLIE McCARTNEY: Okay, let’s see those maps. I’ll change the -- I’ll take this opportunity to change the tape.