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Shirley Nielsen, Part 2
Shirley Nielsen

This is the continuation of an interview with Shirley Nielsen on August 10, 1997 by Judith Morris at Shirley's home in Kokhanok, Alaska. In this second part of a two part interview, Shirley continues to talk about places she has lived in the Lake Iliamna area, what she did there, and why she continued to move from place to place. As part of this discussion, Shirley talks about the seasonal round of subsistence activities that take place in the area.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 98-21-09

Project: Katmai National Park
Date of Interview: Aug 10, 1997
Narrator(s): Shirley Nielsen
Interviewer(s): Judith Morris
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
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Living in different places around the Lake Iliamna area and when and why she moved

Continuation of places she lived and why they moved

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JUDITH MORRIS: This is Sunday August 10th, I think, I'm with Shirley Nielsen, this is Judith Morris. We're in Shirley's house on the shores of Lake Iliamna. We're gonna to talk about the places that she moved -- has moved around in her life and maybe why she was living in these different places. So Shirley, you want to start with the very first place here, it's number 1, Iliamna SHIRLEY NIELSEN: Yeah, I was born and raised in Iliamna in 1938. My father built a home there and we lived there until I think I was, well, we moved back and forth between Iliamna and Bristol Bay when my father had to go down and caretake canneries but that was our base, was Iliamna. And in 19 -- and then he passed away in 1945 and we went back and lived in Iliamna, permanently. JUDITH MORRIS: OK, Shirley, when you are talking about Naknek, we're looking at number 6 on the map. I just want to clarify when you said you were going down in the winters, in winter and taking care of -- SHIRLEY NIELSEN: Yeah, my father caretakes, usually Graveyard cannery or Libbeyville and, you know, just off and on through those years, up until 1945. And, then we lived, let's see, then I -- we moved to Levelock in 1949, my mother and my brothers and that's where -- JUDITH MORRIS: That's number 4 on the map SHIRLEY NIELSEN: Yeah, that's where we lived until I got married in 1956. And in 1956, we lived on the Kvichak River, 22 miles above Levelock and we wintered there. And then we've also lived in -- and then let's see, oh we lived in Levelock and then we lived in the Kvichak. That's the way it went and it was in those two years '56 and '57. And then in '57, we moved back up to the Kokhanok Bay, Reindeer Bay. JUDITH MORRIS: Number 7, on the map SHIRLEY NIELSEN: Number 7 and we lived at Reindeer Bay and we also lived on the other side of the portage on the Copper River side for a year. JUDITH MORRIS: OK, that's number 9. SHIRLEY NIELSEN: OK, number 9, OK and then from there, we were back down on the Kvichak River. JUDITH MORRIS: Number 5 SHIRLEY NIELSEN: Number 5 and lived there for one or two years and then we moved to Naknek for -- well we went down every summer for commercial fishing, but then we lived there in 1960. Back up to Reindeer Bay, no Kvichak, in 1961 -- Kvichak River -- and then we went back to Naknek and lived down there for two years, '62 and '63. And then, gosh, I'm losing track of where we moved to.

SHIRLEY NIELSEN: Then we lived in Levelock again another year -- but we did this -- and back between Levelock, Reindeer Bay, the Kvichak and Naknek, was from 1956 to, about 1964, when we finally moved to Kokhanok, Reindeer Bay for -- in 1964 -- we lived there for two years and then we moved to Kokhanok village in 1966 and that's where we've been ever since. And we did all this moving around, mostly to follow places where John could trap -- where we could, you know have subsistence type foods available to us, fish, meat, hunting, you know, and trapping and -- help to sustain us besides the commercial fishing season that we went to Naknek every summer, for usually June or July. Then in 1966, when we moved to Kokhanok, it was because we wanted to be with, at the schools, here and plus we were so close to the trapping area and areas that we always hunted and fished and to be able to suppliment our, our living. And, I home-schooled for two years at Reindeer Bay from '64 to '66 and then from there we moved to Kokhanok permanently, in '66. JUDITH MORRIS: When you were -- I think two of the places we haven't really mentioned too much are numbers 2 and 3 on the map and I think your mom was from the -- SHIRLEY NIELSEN: Lake Clark, Tanalian area. JUDITH MORRIS: Right, and so you note that you went to Nondalton and spent part of one school year? SHIRLEY NIELSEN: Well, we went there in 1946 because the school closed down in Iliamna. Our teacher got -- the teacher they had in Iliamna got sick and had to leave for the remainder of the school year, like in January through May or whatever, so we moved to live at Nondalton for the rest of that year to be at the school there. And then in different years -- and I can't remember off-hand, I have to think back -- but we lived, we went to Tanalian and camped every fall or most -- alot of falls when we were up in that Lake Iliamna area, I mean, Ilianma and Nondalton area. Just for the same reason, camping for putting up fish in the fall and berries and things like that. And, then we always went back -- went back there to visit because that's where my grandmother and my mother -- my grandmother lived there almost all her years and my mother was born there and raised there and, we still have, you know, cabins up there and what-not. But, it was for all -- for all these reasons that I look at these moves was for -- to survive. Is what it amounted to.