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Art and Damaris (Dee) Mortvedt, Interview 1

Art and Damaris (Dee) Mortvedt were interviewed on December 4, 2002 by Bill Schneider at Bill Schneider's home in Fairbanks, Alaska. Art and Dee were chosen for this interview because of their long term interest and investment in the Arctic. They currently run a wilderness lodge at Selby Lake in the Brooks Range. The interview covers their time as teachers (particularly in the Kobuk area), Art's flying in different parts of the world, his trapping and wilderness activities in the Brooks Range, some of the old timers from the Kobuk area, and his attitudes about wilderness and the lodge business. The interview starts with Art, and then Dee enters the discussion.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2002-27-07

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Dec 4, 2002
Narrator(s): Art Mortvedt, Damaris "Dee" Mortvedt
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
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) Art's childhood and youth before coming to Alaska

2) Coming to and starting a life in Alaska

3) Learning from the elders and switching from teaching to trapping and living off the land

4) Learning to fly and some of his flying experiences around the world

5) Flying around South America, and getting started in the lodge business

6) Future of wilderness lodges

7) Traveling from Selby Lake to Kobuk by dogteam along the trapline trail, and the importance of preserving wilderness

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: North Dakota\ parents\ farm\ wildlife\ hunting\ trapping\ Alaska -- interest in\ Alaska Magazine\ Selby Lake\ father -- outdoorsman\ South Dakota\ trapping -- income from\ car -- Model A Ford\ fishing -- catfish\ trapping -- beaver\ trip -- West Coast\ outdoors -- respect for\ outdoors -- tread lightly\ college -- Dickinson State University\ degree -- math and chemistry\ Alaska Teaching Certificate\ job -- National Park Service\ Black Hills\ Jewel Cave National Monument\ Wind Cave National Park\ Mount Rushmore National Memorial\ Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas\ Gila Cliff Dwellings, Arizona\ Europe -- National Park survey\ Norway\ Sicily\ National Park Service -- Washington, DC\ Alaska -- move to\ car -- Volkswagen Beetle\ winter trip -- camping\ Packard, Fred\ National Park Service -- International Affairs Division\ Europe -- contacts\ Geravold, Olav -- Kings Minister of the Environment, Norway\ Norwegian parks\ Italian Park Service\ Sicilian Forest Service|

Section 2: Volkswagen -- air-cooled motor\ heater\ town car -- Fairbanks\ Copper Center, Alaska\ National Park Service\ Anchorage\ Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park\ job -- ranger\ Sheep Camp\ Glacier Bay National Monument\ Chilkoot Trail\ people -- number of\ people -- preparation\ search and rescue\ Alaska Teaching Certificate\ job -- offers\ Kobuk River Valley\ Brooks Range\ location -- remote\ Shungnak\ wife -- Dee\ wife -- meeting\ Jewel Cave National Monument\ job -- cave tours\ job -- direct traffic\ Toyota Land Cruiser\ Alaska -- interest in\ Dee (Damaris) -- driver\ family -- cave tour\ Forest Service campground\ meal -- free\ family -- visited\ Norway -- hitch-hiking\ post card\ Tok, Alaska\ Dee -- teacher\ Cordova\ Nome\ Tok\ Kenny Lake\ marriage\ Shungnak\ Shungnak -- lifestyle\ subsistence\ Inupiat elders\ Sun, Joe\ Lee, Charlie\ Commack, Albert\ Berry, Pansy\ teaching -- multiple grades\ subsistence -- learning about\ dogs -- training\ Alaska history -- key period|

Section 3: Sun, Joe\ fish camp\ wall tent\ storytelling\ travel -- Brooks Range\ fishing -- set net\ fishing -- ice\ subsistence lifestyle -- learning about\ survival skills\ practical information\ living off the land\ Harvey, Joe\ hunting partner\ camp\ Pah River\ Kobuk\ sod house\ wall tent\ stove pipe -- heat from\ roof damage\ clothing -- snow suit\ Shungnak\ life -- changes\ bush life -- interest in\ Brooks Range\ Mortvedt, Damaris -- teaching\ Mortvedt, Art -- pilot's license\ Manley Hot Springs\ lifestyle -- combined\ trapping\ teaching -- schedule\ Mrs. Dart\ job -- half year\ trap line\ trapline -- establishment of\ Sheldon, Charlie\ Selby Lake\ cabin -- fixed up\ Kobuk River\ Harvey, Joseph\ travel -- route\ Selby Lake\ Pah River -- mouth of\ cabin -- arrival\ Thanksgiving dinner\ Brooks Range|

Section 4: flying -- learning\ childhood\ airplane -- Aeronca Champ\ North Dakota\ airplane -- landed in pasture\ Morton, John\ airplane -- ride\ Dickinson, North Dakota\ college -- flying scholarship\ Selby Lake\ airplane -- need for\ airplane -- use of\ airplane -- preferred type\ Trade-a-Plane Magazine\ Atchison, Kansas\ pilot's license -- getting\ Falcon Field, Mesa, Arizona\ airplane -- purchase\ airplane -- flight to Alaska\ adventure\ radio -- lack of\ wind\ fuel -- need for\ landing -- farm\ Belleville, Kansas\ landing -- roadways\ Alaska Highway -- gas pumps\ aviation -- career in\ airplane -- new Cessna 185\ Toronto, Ontario\ flight route\ America\ Mexico\ Central America\ Panama City\ North and South America\ Tierra del Fuego\ Antarctica -- flying in\ South Pole\ work -- getting\ Christchurch, New Zealand\ Operation Deep Freeze\ National Science Foundation -- logistics\ interview\ work -- Antartica\ Northern Greenland\ North Pole and Central Arctic Ocean Basin \ Thule Research Station\ Station Nord\ Alert, Ellesmere Island, Canada\ North Pole\ Kershaw, Giles -- polar pilot\ pilot -- renegade\ flying -- aerobatics\ Ducksford, England\ airplane -- De Havilland Chipmunk\ accident -- Jones Sound, Antartica\ gyrocopter\ Adventure Network International\ Antartica -- expedition logistics\ Kershaw, Ann\ airplane -- Cessna 185|

Section 5: navigation\ South America\ navigation -- GPS\ West Coast, South America\ navigation -- use of beach\ Panama City\ Puerto Montt, Chile\ navigation -- change in\ South America -- restricted areas\ Colombia\ Peru\ Ecuador\ military restricted areas\ airplane -- Cessna 185\ airplane -- shot down\ military\ airplane -- target\ Selby Lake\ cabin -- bear break-ins\ lodge business -- development of\ trapping -- making a living from\ trapline -- trails\ land use -- trapping cabins\ State Trapping Cabin Permit Program\ fur -- market for\ logistics -- price of\ clients\ Sheldon, Bea\ Sheldon, Charlie\ Peace of Selby Wilderness Lodge\ cabins -- outlying\ Kobuk River\ pristine\ Brooks Range -- relaxation\ clients -- reinvigorated\ guests -- special\ lodge -- atmosphere\ people -- visiting with\ clients -- diverse backgrounds\ engineers\ painters\ Garriot, Owen -- astronaut\ doctors\ lawyers\ Zimbabwe -- Mugabe torture victims\ Skilling, Tom -- weatherman WGN\ professional gamblers|

Section 6: lodge -- future of\ philosophy -- maintenance of\ philosophy -- "A Uniquely Personal Wilderness Experience"\ lodge -- expansion of\ lodge -- simplicity\ lodge -- atmosphere\ lodge -- amentities\ hot tub\ setting -- pristine\ lodges -- Brooks Range\ lodges -- changes\ wilderness -- experience of\ painters' workshop\ visitors\ filmmaking\ Selby Lake\ yearly schedule\ winter -- logistics\ winter -- activities\ winter -- visitors\ access -- year round\ season -- no access\ Jamieson, Sandy\ Bettles\ Kamerling, Leonard -- filmmaker\ Elder, Sarah -- filmmaker\ Shungnak\ filmmaking -- documentary\ Kobuk River|

Section 7: travel -- dog team\ Kobuk\ mail -- collection\ dog team -- haul freight\ trap line -- trail\ Selby Lake\ Pah River\ trapline -- checking\ trip -- length of time\ Killik Valley\ sod house\ Sheldon, Charlie\ storytelling\ Harvey, Joe\ Moyer, Guy and Faith\ post office -- location of\ Norutak Lake\ Kobuk Valley\ Alatna drainage\ scenery\ life -- current\ Manley Hot Springs -- headquarters\ logistics\ lodge -- reservation system\ Brooks Range\ school\ teaching\ community -- road access\ Fairbanks\ Selby Lake -- home\ remote location -- difficulties of\ Brooks Range -- wilderness\ National Park Service\ park -- ideal\ Gates of the Arctic National Park\ road -- impact of\ wilderness characteristics -- changes\ values -- wilderness\ wilderness -- preservation\ Thoreau, Henry David|