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Ethel Ross Oliver

In this recording, Ethel Ross Oliver reminisces about her 1950 visit with the Nunamiut to do the US Population Census. She vividly describes the people and their lifestyle, their skin tents, and the importance of visiting. She specifically mentions a number of Nunamiut people, including Simon Paneak, Frank Rulland, Homer Mekiana, and Elijah Kakinya. This recording was originally made in 1989 by Ethel Ross Oliver at the request of the Oral History Archives at the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum in Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska, and was subsequently shared with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 90-01-01

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview:
Narrator(s): Ethel Ross Oliver
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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1) Getting ready to meet Simon Paneak.

2) Going to see Simon Paneak

3) Description of caribou tents

4) More descriptions of the village

5) Census questioning of the Frank Rulland family

6) Discussion of Homer Mekiana and the four different winter camps

7) Census questioning of the Elijah Kakinya family

8) Census questioning of the Simon Paneak family

9) More descriptions of Ethel's first evening in Anaktuvuk Pass with the Simon Paneak family

10) Traveling and visiting in the Anaktuvuk Pass area

11) Differences between the upper and lower camps

12) Census questioning of the Homer Mekiana family

13) More visiting while waiting for arrival of plane

14) How time passes while waiting for the plane

15) Second meeting with Simon Paneak

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Section 1: tent -- caribou\ Brooks Range\ U.S. Census -- 1950\ U.S. Census -- area covered\ Nunamiut\ Wien, Sig\ caribou\ dogteams\ KFAR -- "Tundra Topics", as forecaster of outsiders|

Section 2: Anaktuvuk Pass\ Crowl, Bill\ Bettles Village\ Koyukuk River\ John River\ willows\ caribou -- lead to people\ Arctic Ocean\ Mekiana, Homer\ tents -- round, skin\ Paneak, Susie\ tent -- door, grizzly bear|

Section 3: igloos -- sod & stone\ barabara -- Aleut dwelling\ log huts\ willow poles-20, 8ft, rawhide arches\ frame -- basketlike, semi rigid\ 10 ft. diameter\ caribou skin\ door -- grizzly bear, fur side in\ plastic window\ stove -- sheet iron\ radio\ lanterns -- coleman|

Section 4: Crowl, Bill\ Mekiana, Homer\ visiting\ savik\ table -- fold up\ Rulland, Frank\ racks -- hide drying\ Mekiana, Homer -- dogteam\ ptarmigan\ rabbit\ sod house -- 18x10, inverted vs, willow frame\ ugruk -- large bearded seal\ Rulland, Vera\ Rulland, Jane|

Section 5: census -- Frank Rulland family\ Rulland, Frank\ birth certificates\ Bible\ Kobuk people\ age -- recorded\ Paneak, Susie\ wood -- cutting|

Section 6: Mekiana, Homer\ hunting -- caribou\ Tulugak Lake -- summer gathering\ Contact Creek\ Ingstad, Helge -- Scandinavian living in area\ John River\ Wien, Sig\ dogsled\ Gaffney, General -- Arctic wear jacket|

Section 7: Kakinya, Elijah\ Kakinya, Mae\ adaptations -- sewing machine, phonograph, pots & pans\ tent -- description\ census -- Elijah Kakinya family\ Kakinya, Abraham\ tuberculosis\ Kakinya, Ruth -- adopted\ visiting\ ulu's\ caribou -- meat|

Section 8: Paneak, Simon\ bear -- grizzly\ wolf -- kills\ census -- Simon Paneak family\ Roosevelt, Mister -- Simon Paneak's son\ naming -- accepting English names\ Wien, Sig -- nine children are named after him\ quaq -- partially frozen meat\ atka -- guardian soul, called to protect newborn\ Rulland, Frank\ Rulland, Vera|

Section 9: Marston, Colonel Muktuk\ children -- curiosity\ Itchoak, Wilber\ Ahgook, Jesse\ Ahlook, Charlie\ Paneak, Raymond -- 10 years old\ Paneak, Robert -- 12 years old\ Paneak, Mabel -- 7 years old\ Rulland, Frank\ Rulland, Vera\ bed -- length of cabin, heads toward center\ wall -- pockets in hide\ mukluks\ Fish & Wildlife Service -- wolf bounty|

Section 10: visiting\ parkas -- inner, fur side in\ parka -- outer, fur side out\ wind\ blizzard\ census -- while visiting\ Inulereck, Hugh\ Hugo, John\ naming -- adopting fathers Christian name as last name\ missionaries -- naming\ Amiliak, Susie (Paneak)|

Section 11: Morry, John\ scrub trees\ Hunt Fork\ spruce\ alder bark -- dye\ tents\ sled -- building\ Paneak, Robert\ Montigak, Morry\ upper camp\ lower camp\ Morry, Billy\ Morry, John\ Ahgook, Jesse\ Mekiana, Homer\ spruce camp vs willow camp\ mukluks|

Section 12: census -- Homer Mekiana family\ Mekiana, Homer\ Mekiana, Molly\ sewing -- sinew as thread\ Mekiana, Doris\ Mekiana, Rebecca\ Montigak, Morry|

Section 13: Barrow\ Barter Island\ Hugo, Jack Rice\ Kiak Creek\ spruce poles\ Tulugak Lake -- summer camp\ Contact Creek\ Kavick, Ben\ meat -- caribou head\ Rulland, Vera\ Kakinya, Mae\ Koyuk\ Nunamiut\ Ohkuliak-name given to Ethel from Simon Paneak\ Ingstad, Helge|

Section 14: Kikiana, Elijah -- false ivory tooth\ medicine -- showing how to use what the missionaries left\ Kakinya, Abraham\ Hugo family\ string story\ Rulland, Jane\ Nunamiut\ "Tundra Times"\ happy house -- at summer camp\ Cross, John|

Section 15: Second Annual Alaska Scientific Conference\ McKinley Park\ Irving, Dr. Lawrence\ birds -- naming\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ Chapman, Sydney\ Aurora\ Beltz, Senator William -- territorial legislature\ Anaktuvuk Pass -- school attempts, 1950's\ Arctic Health Research Lab\ Irving, Dr.\ Paneak, Simon\ Anaktuvuk Pass -- teachers, 1956\ Wrangell Institute|