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Steve Nowatok
Steve Nowatok

Steve Nowatok was interviewed on August 7, 1997 by Judith Morris in Kokhanok, Alaska. In this interview, Steve talks about fishing and hunting in the Kokhanok area, including impacts from commercial fishing on subsistence activities, moose hunting, seal hunting, and bird hunting and egg collecting. He also talks about the role of religion and the church in people's lives, changes he has seen in the community, the importance of maintaining Native cultural traditions, and the changing use of steambaths (sauna).

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 98-21-03

Project: Katmai National Park
Date of Interview: Aug 7, 1997
Narrator(s): Steve Nowatok
Interviewer(s): Judith Morris
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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Mandatory catch and release fishing and the effects of sportfishing and sporthunting in the area

How different parts of moose and bear are used

People using seals and the economics of trapping and selling furs nowadays

Changes in clothing and the resources available for hunting

How different parts of birds are used

How they used to store bird eggs when he was a boy

Food delicacies and special celebrations in the village

Traditional celebrations where people gathered together, and fishing during different seasons

His mother and uncle gardening, and the role of religion and the church in people's lives

Changes he has seen in Kokhanok

What he thinks is important for his children to know

Parts of Native culture that are being lost

How steams (steambaths) are still being used in the village

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MS. JUDITH MORRIS: -- 97. We were talking about catch and release fishing. What were you going to stay about that, Steve? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Seemed like that with this catch and release being mandatory and, you know, in this area, Lake Iliamna area, especially being designated as fly fish only area, it seems like the fish are starting to come back a little, you know. Whereas before, when they catch them, they just kept whatever they catch, you know, it didn't matter with the size and all, just seemed like they would catch them. Now with this what they call catch and release. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: How does that affect people who live here? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: They are starting to see a lot of people, you know, like just this year, in the spring, this sport fishing season, people are getting a lot of people down at the fish camp river, you know, doing a lot of fishing there. And people who are catching the fish are starting to, but I don't know if they are doing it legal or not, but what they are doing is cleaning their fish and starting to leave lot of carcasses at the river, or people who -- who have been there claim they are starting to see a lot of fish carcasses, you know, in the river there. And I don't know if they were just -- MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Like from the sports fishermen? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, from the sports fishermen. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: So they are cleaning the fish and taking it out even though it's supposed to be catch and release? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. Catch and release. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: So if you live here, do you also have to do catch and release or do you get to keep the -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Well, when you're subsisting, you keep what you catch, you know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: And can you use hook and line -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. Hook and -- MS. JUDITH MORRIS: -- and be considered subsistence? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Well, that's what my understanding was, you know. You use those kind you're subsustence hunting, once you catch them, as long as you don't leave them out there, you know, wanton waste type. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Do you ever have any of the sport hunters leaving meat in the village? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: There was a lot, I guess, one time here, but it's not in operation now. But, you know, when his clients would sometimes get one or two moose, and they couldn't take care of the meat, edible meat, he would have them -- a float plane stopped here and, you know, give meat to the people or whoever would meet the plane. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Did the village like that or -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: That was good for -- for as long as the meat wasn't spoiled. You know, as long as it wasn't damaged in any way.

MS. JUDITH MORRIS: If you get a moose, caribou probably the same thing -- but if you get a moose, can you use most parts of the moose? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, you can use the most parts of it. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Head cheese? Is that something you guys make in this village? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: What was that? MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Head cheese, where they boil the head and use the tongue? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Well, here they take the tongue out and everything. If they are going to cook the head, they saw it all -- cut it all up into -- MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Into small bones -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Small bones. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: -- instead of just throwing the head in there? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. They do. As long as I can remember, they did it that way, and they cut it up, you know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: What about the feet? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: They can do that, too. They use the hoof and the bear -- bear feet, and you know, claws and foot. They -- the older people still eat it. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: If you get a bear in the village, you know, however a bear is taken -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: I think nowadays, it's hardly ever used anymore except for the fat part, you know. They -- I don't know, they tend not to eat bear meat anymore. The most -- last fall we had a bear that we ate, you know, that's -- MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Was it brown bear or black bear? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: I don't know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Just a bear? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: It was -- it was a bear but it was black, but I know it wasn't black. It must have been a brown bear that has black fur or something, you know, I guess. And it didn't taste like -- like a grizzly bear or a brown bear does, you know, even like fish taste. This one was a -- had a different taste to it, like a black bear taste, you know, which I have never tasted on this side of the lake, you know, the south side of the lake before. You know, it was edible. You know, it wasn't -- no fish taste to it.

MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Do people -- do people here ever eat seals? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Oh, once in a great while, once in a great while people who are able to go down to the island out there, we call the Seal Island, they -- they go out and get one. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Is that over closer to Pedro Bay, or -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Oh, no. Right straight out to the island. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Right out here? Okay. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Maybe about nine miles out or -- it's a little island, all gravel, no grass on it. Seals tend to stay on there and sun themselves. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Can you get a seal there year around, or is it certain seasons? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Oh, I haven't seen no regulation or policy on it before, so I -- so I -- MS. JUDITH MORRIS: No yeah, so what I'm asking, are there always seals around? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. There's always. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Not what the season is. Are there always seals available? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. And those, as far as I can remember, there's always been seals, you know, here. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: If you got a seal, and I don't know if you hunt seals or not, but if you got a seal or somebody else got a seal, got the meat and the liver and maybe rendering down that oil, would anybody be interested in sewing the fur, or what would happen to the fur do you think? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Oh, most times nowadays people don't sew here anymore. You know, most time, any time if anybody get a seal, they use it for a rug or a display. You know, they hardly ever use the skin anymore, you know, just for a trophy. Trophy. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: What about any of the men making tools? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, it's mostly repairing or maintaining snow machines or chain saws, you know. That's -- now -- you know, whereas before it was maintaining, even though at that time, if it were sleds, you'd always have available of wood or birch or whatever you make it out of. Nowadays, you gotta have to order it or see if you can afford the part, you know, to buy it, you know, whereas before, you could just get it readily available. You know. And now you've got to buy it. You know, a lot of time. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Uh-hum. How many people live in Kokhanok right now, do you have any idea? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: I think it's around 150 or -60. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: 150 or -60? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: How many active trappers do you have -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: I think there's only one or -- it's between one and three right now. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: One and three? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: And do you think that -- do you have any reasons for that? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: The prices are so low, you know, you -- you tend to spend more money going out checking your traps and setting them up than you can earn on the fur. You know, you're going -- you go in debt just doing that. You know, gas and oil and maintaining equipment and the supplies you've got to take. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Uh-hum. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: And I haven't heard anybody making any what they call money to even maintain a line anymore. You know, the people that I hear about is, if anything about fur or, you know, like fur, is any way you can make money out of it nowadays just by doing handiwork, you know, like gloves, hats, you know. That way you can sell them for anywhere from 3- to 500 per; whereas, you know, if you sell them raw, you get only maybe 50 or 70 bucks for it. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Is sewing considered women's work? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, in this village, it is. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Yeah. So that would be a gender issue. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: A man could trap it but...

MS. JUDITH MORRIS: What about squirrels? It seems to me squirrels used to be real important in terms of clothing. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Oh, it used to be before, until they -- you know, like -- like I said to you, material got available, until it, you know, it was even when I was younger, my mom used to always getting squirrels for kids' parkas and, you know, things like that. Like handiwork or mittens and stuff. Nowadays, it's easier to buy them than to -- to cure it, hunt it, you know, clean it, you know. You know. But all those times, I guess people had the time to do it then. Nowadays you're -- anything. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Uh-hum. In terms of -- of you know, sort of -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Seemed like to. You know, it was -- I don't know. It wasn't stable. But it was available a lot more then than now, you know. You know. Most -- most old people, I mean all the people here still like caribou -- I mean, porcupine, but it's not around like -- I don't know. Something happened between here and 15 years ago. You know, even they used to be coming here into the village. Within 7, 8 years, now hardly any ever, you know, wander into the village anymore, so. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: What other changes in available resources? What about ptarmigan? Are they on a regular cycle or is it hard to get ptarmigan now? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: It seems like it's harder now because -- or I don't see as much as I used to before, you know. I haven't seen very much at all last two or three years, you know. They might be in the mountains, but I haven't gone back that far. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: What other kind of birds might you take in a year? I mean -- if you found them? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: It's mostly, it's like spruce hen, we call spruce hen, tree grouse. And that's the only kind we get, you know, until spring, and spring. And that's when the ducks start going by. They don't stay here, but on their way by, they stop at the streams and the lakes around here, and that's when they get them. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: And they are not -- this is not part of their southern pattern when they fly back? Or they are flying too high? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: When they do fly by here, they fly quite high and away from the village. And you know, after a while, somebody pot shot, or shoot at them a few times here, then they are not going by the village there. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Do swan or cranes ever come by here? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Oh, yeah. Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: In the springtime? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Springtime. Spring and fall. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Oh, both times? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: You can get swan and crane? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. When available. Or -- when available.

MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Do they ever use the feathers or the down for anything? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Not that I -- not that I can remember. Not the fur. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Not for pillows or something? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: The only ones that I ever seen were the tips of the wing before, you know, at the wing, they used to use them for a little brush or dirt dusting. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: What about in terms of the water fowl and stuff, what about egg picking? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Hmm. That usually happens in the spring, like June month. You know. That's been ongoing even -- even today, that's ongoing today. People who have boats available go out and pick -- MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Gull eggs mainly? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Whatever they can find. You know, like around here we've got mallards and pin tails and things that are common to the freshwater lakes that lay eggs on the island, out there with the gulls. If they find them, they will pick them. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Is there -- I've heard that you can pick eggs, at least with the gulls, and I don't know about the mallards and stuff, and that the mallards will relay eggs -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: -- to fill their nests -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yes. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: -- to a certain number? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: And so you can pick them two or three times and the gulls will keep laying. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. They -- that's how the gulls are, you know, like this island out here people go to more frequently than other island. You know, you go over there in two or three days time, and if there's not enough eggs there the first time, then you have got to wait at least three or four days. And then after a while, the season gets longer towards July, then the incubation seems to increase in speed. You know, when they start getting little embryos, that's when you stop picking eggs. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: So you would just crack one and realize that it's got an embryo or can you feel the difference? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: When you shake it, you can hear the water. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Oh. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Most of the times when you shake it, you would just know when there's an embryo there, there's no water, much at all. It's solid. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: So if you don't hear anything, you quit picking them? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah.

MS. JUDITH MORRIS: How do you store eggs? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: We don't take enough to store, our generation, we just pick enough for maybe a week at a time, you know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Uh-hum. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: And then once they are gone, it's gone. But when I was younger, we used to do like berries, we just put them in the ground and keep them cool. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Would you put anything over them? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: No. No, just a cover over them, like a (indiscernible)... MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Would you dig these holes -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: -- when you were younger or were they natural holes, roots around trees or -- you would dig them? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Oh, we would dig them. Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: So you would have to dig them like in the -- or you would have to keep reusing them? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, reusing them. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Or else it would be too hard to dig them when the ground was still frozen. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. You know, we do it in the fall time before it freeze. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Would you line them with moss or anything? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, that's where we dig them in the moss, you know, because it's easier to dig. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: And you didn't have to worry about wild animals coming to -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: No. Not -- not where -- not if it was close to a home, you know, like where we were, down under the hill there. Mom would put them under a hill or something. When mom was young, in her days, when they were young, they -- they had four or five foot ground holes, they would call them. I don't know what they called their -- they still got some down at fish camp. They -- they keep them in there until they were -- MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Stinking? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, stinking, fermenting, to the point that they were fermenting. That's how they ate them, you know. And there are still holes there. They said they put anywhere from 40 to 50 fish per hole, you know, like -- you know, like two and a half feet diameter by three feet deep, you know. They claim it keeps a long time once the ground is cool, you know. I guess they would do it in the fall. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Did they line those with a basket or anything? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: I think that sometimes they put some kind of liner, you know, like -- you know, like birch leaves or birch branches or whatever, and top it with grass or something like that, you know, just to keep the flies away from it. You know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Uh-hum. So how long would they keep the fish in those baskets -- I mean, in those containers? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Seemed like -- seemed like they were -- they kept anywhere from one to three months or so. One to three-month period, you know. Once -- once they became too fermented, then they use them for dogs, you know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Use them for the dogs? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. You know.

MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Do you remember your parents or you in your family now, is there any special food you do for holidays? Fish, do you do any fish especially prepared for a holiday or anything? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: They don't, seem like they don't do -- do that anymore. But it used to be that, you know, you saved what you considered a delicacy to the elders or to the people, you tend to save those for a festival or for Slavi and things like that. But I'm starting to not see that at all anymore. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: What would have been considered a delicacy? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: You know, like a porcupine, fermented fish, you know, things like that, things that you don't eat very often. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: So they would be considered like a treat? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Like a treat. Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: And use it for Slavi, or -- what about carnivals? I hear all this stuff about how important and -- do you remember that when you were a young boy, carnivals? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: No. No, we didn't have carnivals until last few years of my elementary school years, like when I was in 8th grade, I guess they had a carnival here. And they started after that. You know, and then they had a regular -- regular annual carnival. Yeah, it's still going on today. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: And does that take like a whole year to plan? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: It takes a long planning. It's a year long planning, you plan a little at a time. You now, I guess what they -- I haven't been in that committee a long time, where they all plan these festivals a long time. You know, it takes a long time planning them. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Uh-hum. Do you travel to any of the other carnivals? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: No. If I have a way to go, I travel. You know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Uh-hum. Do you have friends that come over here? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. Yeah, they -- first few years, couple years now they claim Kokhanok has the best carnivals in the lakes. So you know, even from other outlying village, they tend to wait for Kokhanok's carnival to happen. Or even I hear nowadays they are starting to save a year in advance, or some people like in Manokotak and Togiak do, they come over from over there to here.

MS. JUDITH MORRIS: You know, a long time ago, they would have dances in the winter and stuff, you know, like maybe even before your parents, they would have these big -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, I think that is -- that is still part of it, you know, the socializing part. Because you know, that's -- sometimes that's the only time you ever see your friends is during carnival. They are all either working full time or they are doing other things full time. And they are the only break they will ever sometime they set aside for carnival. You know, whereas before, they used to call it Curukaq, you know, like everybody from one village would go to another, you know, like the gathering of the people. You know. And you know, it was -- it lasted for about two or three days then and like it is now. Like. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Now, could you say that word again? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Curukaq. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Curukaq? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Was that before you were a young boy. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, before I was -- MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Or traditional, a long time ago? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, traditional, they call it that. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Uh-hum. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: You know, it was like a carnival, I guess, you know. They bring things to the -- MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Your parents talk to you about that? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: About that, that they did that? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Your father being from the Kaskanak area, did you guys ever go that far down to Kaskanak? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Oh, we've got relatives down there. We used to spend summers down there. We never get no king salmon at the Kaskanak, but we know people. We lived there until August month, you know. You know, having family there, we -- MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Did you stay at Kaskanak? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: No. No, at Igiugig. Right at the lake there. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Did you stay by Alex Zackar's or something? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: In there? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. Uh-hum. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Kings don't come up here, do they? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Oh, very few get here. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Kaskanak is about the last place that you could get a king? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: In there. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Oh, rarely there is a straggler. Like we got one this -- this summer, we got one king on our subsistence, you know, but that's sort of rare. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: When you go down to Igiugig, would there be other things that you would get while you were down in Igiugig? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Oh, yeah, there are, you know, like white fish during fall, you know. That was -- that was the difference, you know, that they -- people who ate that a lot of times considered it a delicacy. You know, you eat them ice cold. And that's how you eat them. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Take them with a seine or -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: A seine or a net. A net or seine. Like a subsistence net. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Would you make a special trip down there for the whitefish? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Sometimes they do, you know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Still? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, still they do. You know, they -- you know, within the family -- in our family, within our immediate family Waska (phonetic) is from Igiugig, or you know, he -- and our family is from Igiugig, so we will go down there and get a few or somebody from down there would even send us a few. Oh, yeah, we get candlefish at Gibraltar Lake, you know, like in October. Mostly we just put them in a gunny sack and freeze them, you know, we take them -- we take them apart as we need them or -- MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Do you fry them or do you -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: We fry. Most of them are fried. And some are cooked, you know.

MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Have you ever had a garden here? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: My uncle was big in gardening before Niksi, he was a gardener, a gardener here in our family. Once he's gone, we never had a garden. Our mom, once mom was gone, we didn't have a garden. She always had a little plot of garden, she called it a garden, you know, potatoes and little turnips. Not much to harvest. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Are people your age -- I noticed at your father's house that there was, you know, a lot of physical reminders that he's Russian Orthodox. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Uh-hum. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: And is the religion still very prominent among people your age? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: I'm starting to see it not. Declining. It's declining. Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Well, when you were a young boy, wasn't there another missionary church in the village? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: No. No. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Okay. I thought there was at one point some -- a Protestant -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: There may be people who come in here and, you know, serve some people, you know, but -- MS. JUDITH MORRIS: There wasn't a regular church established as such? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: No, no regular church established. But you know, there were families who belonged to that denomination. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Denomination? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: You know. And then... MS. JUDITH MORRIS: And so, you know, you have a nice looking church, you know, right in the center of town now, and there's a priest in Newhalen. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Igiugig now. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Oh. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: That serves exclusively Levelock, Igiugig and here. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Oh, okay. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Designate to serve. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Who is it? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: I don't know. I haven't met him. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Oh, okay. But do you have regular services even today at your church? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, they do. Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: They do? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: And I understand that the chief of the village -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: -- is separate from your political offices. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: And is that a hereditary kind of position? Will his sons automatically be chief or will the church elect? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: I think it's starting to change. It used to be it seemed like hereditary to me, where the chief's son would succeed him eventually, but now it's -- now it's the people who select a chief now.

MS. JUDITH MORRIS: We were talking about whether the traditional authority is still the same that the village -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, I think it is. You know, we're starting to get a little political, though we start to -- we're starting to do under the Village Council auspices instead of the village, you know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Instead of the Village Chief? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You know, whereas before sometimes we used to have to ask permission from the chief to ask for something or work for something. Now we ask the Village Council to see if, you know, if it's possible to do that. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: If somebody wanted to move into this village, the land here is all village corporation land? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: It's considered Kokhanok village. Twelve -- MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Kokhanok Village? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: 1280 acres. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: So if -- what if somebody from a different village who had no relatives here wanted to move to Kokhanok, would they ask permission from the Village Council or the Village Chief or -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Usually the Village Council. How I see it. No. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Yeah. And so the Village Council would decide whether or not -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. That was -- I guess that was the more formal way of doing it before. But I don't know. But like my dad, he -- he got married -- he got married into people who were -- who were of the village and, you know, I guess they adopted him since he was like an orphan from the beginning. You know, I don't know, at that, the proper way was that you would always ask the chief if you could move. You know. And I think that he probably did that. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: We asked your dad today, you know, what was one of the biggest changes -- you're a lot younger, and so how would you think of that? How would you think of from when you were a young boy to a young man to a middle-aged man, what would you think were some of the biggest changes that have affected you personally? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Oh, I don't know. I guess one of the biggest things I have seen around, that I have seen is that, you know, disrespect for the elders. They don't respect the elders like we used to anymore. Or they don't help. They always like it when they see them. Or when they see them out walking around, they offer them a ride. In most cases, now they don't, you know, now they just drive right by them. Or you see an elder packing water or carrying something that's a heavy load to them or just walking, you go over there and talk to them a bit, you know, just converse with them for a while. Nowadays, most people just walk on by, no acknowledgment at all to them. You know. You know, it was a big deal when I was young to respect my elders. You know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: So you see that as a real -- as a change -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: -- between when you were growing up and now? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. That. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: For whatever reason that's occurred, that's one of the biggest things? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah.

MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Thinking of your own children, you have, what, two boys and a -- two girls and a boy? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: I've got four girls and a boy. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Oh, four girls and a boy. MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Okay. What is most important for them, do you feel? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: I think what they need to do is go back to the basics, you know. They are losing all the basics like reading and writing. Reading and writing and reading, you know, they are the basic R's, and then they are losing all that. And the music, the music part of it is what the most things that brought people out. Nowadays, you know, things that -- you know, they are so advanced in things that, you know, they are leaving everybody behind. If somebody don't know how to -- learn how to use a computer they are almost left behind right there on the spot. You know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Do you think it is or is not important for your children to be doing computers? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, I think it is important for them to do it. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Do you want to see them stay in the village? Do you want to see them stay and work? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: I think I would leave it up to them. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Leave it up to them? Whatever -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: I would leave it with them. You know, my -- my hope for them is that at least one of them would at least be the headlight of all of them and go to college and learn to see, you know, see how progress goes, you know. Whereas before, right now, everybody or most people get out of high school, oh, I'm taking a year off and never go back to school. Except for a very few. Kids that are going out, the only people that are -- are away are in the service, you know, like Coast Guard or the Army or Air Force. They are the only people who are away right now. You know. And everybody -- nobody's going to school.

MS. JUDITH MORRIS: -- the traditional skills that your father and mother had, and that they had -- that you and your wife probably have just because of when you grew up, do you think your children are going to have that? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: I think that's already being lost already. You know, that's even within my -- within my own children they -- you know, I'm bilingual. And my children, they can't even understand a basic conversation in native. You know, but they got little words that they can understand them, but you know, they are losing all of that. Plus the handiwork, you know, like making a hat and knitting a thing. You can walk through the village and see nothing that's handmade anymore. You know, it's all store bought. You know, it was a family pride, a family tradition that they have these, you know. You know, mom made these, you know, a pride that they were. Now it's -- you know, it's not -- it's all commercial made. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Well, is there anything else? I can hear your children waiting. Anything else you would like to say, or -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. I wish that -- somehow that they started respecting the elders like they used to. You know, like asking or talking to them or converse with them in some way. Because you know, when you're old like that, you -- you tend to think, oh, yeah, you know, I'm beginning to be a burden to people all around you. Like when you were talking to dad, today I could see his face light up when he would remember some parts that he -- you know, that brought back memories to him. You know, that's what he should be to kids that are growing up, you know, that somehow they communicate with the elders in some way, and without totally losing. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Did your father, when you were growing up, did your father and your mother -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, they talked. We had a lot of stories to talk about. Everything that's happening here now, it's all planned -- it's going according to the plan. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Is that what your dad would say? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, according to the plan, and how you -- in how you treated the product and how you respect the product. And the total outcome is going to be how you treated it. You know how you treat the animal, how you treat somebody else, how you treat -- you know, you treat somebody with respect, you get in kind. You know, nowadays, these people that nowadays, it's a "me" world. You know, somebody did this to me, and everybody else, you know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: So maybe it's what he is saying, though, is still true? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, it is.

MR. STEVE NOWATOK: You know, it's always come back to the basics when everything gets all technical. You know, the basic is the better. You know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Do you think that your life is easier than your parents' because you have electricity and running -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, I think it's a lot -- a lot easier. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: What about the steams? Do you think people will keep their steams now that they have running water? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, I think the older people are still -- you know, they still take steams. You know, people -- people I asked this winter, I was asking, do you take a tub bath or a shower. Yeah, they took one and they caught a cold or whatever. You know, people coming in and out of the house, you know how it is in the shower. And you get drafty and all. You know. Oh, gee, catch a cold or something, taking a bath or a shower, or you know. You know, better to take a steam where it's all hot, you know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: When people steam here, is it -- I don't know how many steams are in the village, but is it often like groups of men get together? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Is it kind of social, too? MR. STEVE NOWATOK: Yeah, it's probably social. It's mostly social. You know, younger -- you know, adolescents, people tend to go, people, you know, the men with the men and... Yeah, you don't have no room in the shower, you know, or a tub to do that, you know. And a lot of times, it's, it's a game to the people who don't know how to take a steam versus people who know how to take it well. You know. You know. It's sort of like a little game to some people, you know, as to who can take the hottest. In our -- in my family, it's always been -- we never use it for a game, just go and wash and leave. You know. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: So most of the steams are oil or -- MR. STEVE NOWATOK: There is a few that got furnace heaters now, you know. A lot easier for them, I guess, to flip the switch. MS. JUDITH MORRIS: Yeah. They just have to pay for the oil. (End of recorded session.)