Frederick Theodore (Ted) Angasan, Sr. was interviewed on January 26, 1998 by Pat Partnow and Mary Jane Nielsen, Ted's younger sister, in Mary Jane's kitchen at her home in South Naknek, Alaska. The three of them sat at the table looking at a map of the area as Ted recalled his subsistence activities, including past use of areas that are now within Katmai National Park, and pointed out specific locations and landmarks. In this first part of a two part interview, Ted talks about fishing, hunting bears, moose and caribou, trapping beavers, and collecting seagull eggs. He also talks about learning traditional skills and values from his parents and grandparents, and listening to their old stories as he was growing up. He stresses the importance of knowing your Native culture and traditional practices, and eating traditional Native foods.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Katmai National Park
Date of Interview: Jan 26, 1998
Narrator(s): Frederick Theodore (Ted) Angasan, Sr.
Interviewer(s): Patricia Partnow, Mary Jane Nielsen
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Fishing and bear hunting
Fishing seasons and types of fish harvested
Hunting and changes in hunting
Trapping and use of cabins
Stories from his grandmother, Pelagia Melgenak
Collecting seagull eggs
Use of dogs in hunting, and seasonal movement to different subsistence locations
Fishing, and importance of respect and not wasting food
New Savonoski, and redfish harvesting
Changes in hunting and use of new technology
Drift fishing, and preparing split fish
Changes in wildlife populations, and use of animal skins for clothing
Importance of not wasting food, and type of bait used in trapping different species
Sharing the harvest
Celebrating special occasions and holidays
1912 volanic eruption of Mt. Katmai
His grandfather, Nick Melgenak, as a guide
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TA: I think the first thing I remember, starting PP: Let me introduce us. Today is January 26, 1998, and I'm at Donald and Mary Jane Nielsen's house, and I'm talking to Theodore Angasan about his memories of the Katmai area, from South Naknek on into Naknek Lake. TA: Okay. I'll start. The thing I remember is beginning when I was four years old, the first thing I remember was in the spring, like in March or April, we traveled up to here, right there . And catch whitefish and dolly varden with nets. We used to come back with boatloads in the day from here. PP: That would be a day trip? TA: One day trip. And go back in the evening. And then that's beginning in the spring. Now in the fall, the first thing I remember was traveling all the way up here . PP: Okay, and this is at Brooks Camp, huh? TA: This would be about September or so, when it first starts getting cool. The frost is just starting, and they'd use nets and fish along all the way up to the falls, Brooks Falls, at Brooks River. And they'd catch maybe -- I think I remember catching about 5000 reds. PP: In what period of time? TA: September, in about three, four days. PP: Wow. TA: That's why people went up there, because all the fish were concentrated in this river, and they'd make just one drift and catch 500 or so and then split them up and hang 'em up. PP: You'd be drifting from boats then? TA: In skiffs or whatever we had then. Just sit out in it and drift. Or somebody stand on the beach and walk the other end of the net down.
TA: You'd take the net and row down in the skiff and load up 500 fish at a time, and maybe we stayed up there until, well I think I remember was when this part was white -- Dumpling Mountain. They'd look at this mountain to see if it's getting colder or not. Cause this one, this mountain here, Mt. Katmai would have a lot of snow on it first, way up, and then work down and then it would start getting cold here and it would be time to go home. Because by that time all your fish are done and ready to eat. That would be maybe the first trip in September. And then they'd come back after the fishing was done to hunt bear. They'd use the bear for dog food and stuff, because people used dogs in those days for their transportation and stuff. They didn't really eat the bear because bear tastes like something horrible, fishy taste to it and only dogs ate that. And they'd go and catch maybe 5 or 6 bear and then go home with the bear. That'd be sometime in October when it's cold. PP: Did they make something out of those bear guts? Did they make the coats, the waterproof coats at all? TA: I think I remember seeing some old people using those, but the thing I remember -- you don't remember too much when you're small -- 6 years old or so, 5. MJ: Bear fat. TA: Oh yeah, the bear fat. We'd use the bear fat for eating, cooking, whatever. PP: What about the hides? TA: The hides were -- I don't remember too many hides. I don't remember what they did with the hides. PP: Did anyone ever talk about doing something with the bear skull after they killed the bear? TA: No, the thing I remember most was they'd take me and stick my hand in the dead bear's mouth. PP: Oh. Why? TA: Well, their belief was it would make me unafraid of bears when I grew up.
PP: Did it work? TA: It kind of worked. I could walk up to a bear and get away with it, I guess. So I guess it worked. And they also taught us to watch out for the mean bears. They had a certain attitude among bears, and figuring out which ones were mean. They know by looking at a bear walking maybe a couple of hundred yards away, this one's a mean bear so we'd better run away and hide from it. Those things chase their own kind and maybe eat them too. Cause those are bears that swing their heads from side to side. And they say watch out for those bears cause those are man-eating bears and bear-eating bears or whatever you want to call 'em, cause they'd kill anyone in sight. That's one thing I remember about those bears. And it taught me to keep away from those things. Cause we see them when we go up; a bear come awalking down and we hide from it. PP: Back to the fish. When you would get hundreds of fish, how did you prepare them after catching them? TA: Split 'em and dry 'em in the sun. And then during cold weather, for a reason it'd keep better and preserve better in cooler weather. PP: Did you salt them at first? TA: I don't think they had salt. I think they did it without salt. The way I remember it. PP: So there must have been racks and racks of drying fish. TA: Millions of racks. Lotta racks, I remember. I remember three or four racks that were always full, at least when I remember when I was little. PP: Did you do some of the fishing and splitting as a kid? TA: Five or six year old, no, just sat and watched the older folks. The men seemed to be the faster splitters. PP: Really? TA: Yeah. The men would probably split two fish to a woman's one. I think it was because of their stronger hands and bigger knives or whatever, but they'd be faster than women. PP: So both the men and women split? TA: Yes. PP: And did both men and women fish also? TA: No, just the men fished. The women kind of waited for the men to come back with fish.
PP: Who took care of the nets? TA: The men. And they were 25 fathoms or so. None of this 10 fathom stuff like we use today down here. That's nothing up there. PP: This must have been before nylon nets. Were they cotton? TA: Yeah, I guess linen, but I remember hearing them making their own out of sinew and stuff. They didn't talk about spearing fish. They used nets to catch them all. And I think that dated way back when. PP: When you were beach combing did you used to find old stone net sinkers or anything like that? Do you remember anything like that? TA: They used some kind of lead, I don't know what they used. There was probably stones. PP: So the first trip out to Brooks Camp would be in September. Then the second one would be for bears in November? TA: Middle of October, maybe. PP: And would you wait till there was snow? TA: No, they'd do it after all our fishing is cured and it's all hauled home and they'd make that second trip. And I remember Dad getting stuck up there and they had to use dogs to tow the sled, their skiff down. We even had pictures of them, old pictures of dog teams pulling a skiff along on top of the ice. PP: So they might stay out for quite a long time when they'd go? TA: Yeah, sometimes the weather is so bad you get stuck there. 50 knot wind come along you don't go anywhere, especially in fresh water. Fresh water is more violent than sea water. The waves are shorter and just more violent cause the water's lighter. PP: This was red salmon. Any other kinds of fish that you'd get in the lake? You said dolly varden here, any other kinds of fish? TA: Well I think they'd come back here on the way back from their bear hunting and catch a bunch of whitefish. Cause whitefish are running in October.
PP: And that's at a place where it says "Cabins" here. TA: Yeah, it's what we call "Trefon's Cabin" up here somewhere . Make that 3. PP: Okay. TA: The cabin's still there. PP: Any other kinds of trapping or hunting that went on in the area? TA: Yeah, we'd do a lot of moose hunting up there. Of course the old boundary is Reindeer Point, which is this thing here. But we'd do a lot of our moose hunting right here . PP: Just outside the park boundaries? Has there been a change in the number of moose around? TA: I think there's just as many as there ever have been. PP: And how about caribou hunting? Where would you do that? TA: Caribou, they're lowland so they did all their hunting here. PP: Okay, outside the park boundaries too. Did I read somewhere about a -- there weren't reindeer within the park boundaries were there? Or was there a reindeer camp in there somewhere? TA: This is what they call Reindeer Point. I don't know, maybe there was a camp there, I don't know, right here . It could have been there. MJ: That's where Mrs. Holstrom and them said that she remembers my -- you know where that cross is, right around the point here? Andrew Gust's sister? TA: Yeah, I think I've seen it still standing. MJ: Mrs. Holstrom was telling me that she remembers our grandma's second husband, Ignaty Olympic, carrying Mom around here. TA: Oh yeah, they did a lot of trapping here too. MJ: Another reindeer camp was supposed to be on this side somewhere? TA: Yeah. And then here there was a cabin. PP: Okay, we're going to mark that .
MJ: Where's that Loaf of Bread hill? TA: It's right here, this creek. PP: Whose cabin was it? TA: It was Dad's and then somebody else claimed it. I used it before this became a park. PP: Did you parents and your gramma, did it matter to them where the boundaries were? Was it something that they'd say, "Okay, now we're going into" or TA: There were no lines in those days. They didn't know what a park boundary was. MJ: This trapping cabin was Alec Johnson's dad's brother-in-law's first, Mom said . Effie's dad . TA: And then he gave it to Dad. PP: Where did you have camps in here? You had a camp there, right? TA: This was our main camp, here, and then this, what we call Red House, Trefon's Cabin. PP: Trefon's cabin is one too. TA: This is where we stopped first and waited for weather. Cause usually if a southeast was blowing we never went. We stayed there until it calmed down. MJ: Dad liked to travel the south side. PP: And did any of the old timers then talk about using some of the rest of the area, maybe Lake Grosvenor? TA: Well this area, when it erupted it killed off a lot of the game so none of the fish went up this way any more. They might have went over here to the other place . MJ: Margo. But they don't go up very far but I know there's fish around there. TA: Yeah, they go up to the falls, I think. PP: Margo Creek where it goes into the lake? TA: Mm hm. MJ: I know there's fish milling around there. I don't know how far they go up. PP: Do people still go up to hunt bear? TA: No, it's illegal in the park. No. PP: Have you noticed any difference in numbers of fish that are there? TA: Yeah, fish are becoming less because there's more bears. Back then the Natives ate them so there was less bears. Animal control, I guess you'd call it.
PP: When they went up for bear hunting did the women go up also or was this just men? TA: Just men. PP: And do you remember hearing people tell traditional stories or stories about when they were young? TA: Yeah, we'd sit around and listen to them all when they talked, nighttime. PP: Do you remember what the stories were about? TA: Well, not too many of them. Of course this was all done in Native, and being 6 years old, you're going off to school and forgetting the language. I don't remember too much of the stories. But I remember a lot of Gramma's stories. I'll have to sit and write some of those down. She had a lot of stories. MJ: Seemed like they were mostly about birds and animals saving people if you were good, a good person. TA: Yeah, the qangqupawaq. That used to be the crow. Yeah, I remember them stories. MJ: You remember the swallow story? TA: Usually it was a sacred bird, so they never MJ: It seems to me the swallow was some kind of holy bird because -- I was trying to remember the story -- it saved people somehow? TA: Yeah. PP: Did it lead them out of dangerous situations? TA: I'd have to sit down and think about them. I to remember . . . MJ: I know that we were always told they were holy birds because of somehow saving people, but I have to stop and think about the story because I haven't thought about it for a long time. TA: Yeah, she used to drill into us, don't kill the swallows, because they're holy birds. MJ: Or anything. I remember one time you shot a seagull. Remember? And I told and Gramma made Theodore go find the seagull. TA: and pluck it and eat it. MJ: Cause you weren't supposed to kill anything unless you ate it. TA: Yeah, unless you ate it. So we ate a seagull . MJ: Must have been good. I don't remember it being bad.
PP: Did people used to collect seagull eggs? TA: The number 1 place was right here . PP: Okay, that would be number 8; no, number 9. TA: And this one was OK. PP: Near the reindeer camp? MJ: This one here is just upriver from what's called the Red House or Trefon's Cabin. PP: And this is -- off this island is where they'd get the eggs? TA: Yeah, this one here, or if there's none here , they'd go up to here . PP: Is that something kids could do? TA: Everybody. Whoever wanted to go along, I guess. PP: The time you're talking about, the main place you lived was New Savonoski, is that right ? TA: Right. PP: And did everyone who lived in the village at that time use Naknek Lake and that part of Katmai for subsistence. TA: Yeah, everybody originated from there anyway, so they all went back to their homeland. PP: And would they go in family groups or sort of everyone together? I mean would each family have its separate camp somewhere? TA: Yeah, I remember separate camps, huh? MJ: All I remember is going up there with Gramma and Dad and them. PP: So you went just with your family group though? TA: Yeah. PP: So it would be your mom and dad and your brothers and sisters and you. TA: Mm hm. And we continued doing this until -- well, I remember doing it in 8th grade. Dad would go to the school and ask permission to take us all up there, to take three weeks off from school in September and take us all up there. So it was really enjoyable, us kids. We were probably the only ones that did that, huh? MJ: I don't remember anybody else doing that. But Dad's camp was on this other side. TA: North side of the Brooks River. MJ: Gramma's was on the -- then when Gramma and Taata were there it was on the south, wasn't it? TA: Mm hm. MJ: Taata and them used to camp on the north side too. TA: They had a house over on this side, on the south side. They kind of -- I remember when we went up together we had two boats, Dad's boat and Taata's boat.
MJ: I remember that when we used to go up there was hardly any bears. Remember when we used to get all excited when we'd see one bear? TA: Yeah, that was before -- they start showing up, around the middle of September, for the fish are all done. MJ: Cause Mary Zimin and Mom had us pounding on pots TA: They brought their dogs up there for a purpose, you know, back in the old days for bear control. Tie 'em up by the fish racks, and a bear come around, and they make a lot of noise, 15 dogs. PP: Fifteen? TA: That's what everybody had. PP: Once you got the fish, did you cache any of it there or take it all back to the village? TA: Take it all back to the village. PP: And then how was it distributed once you got back? Was your family's your family's, or were there people that you shared food with or sent food away to? TA: I think we shared with relatives, the ones that didn't go up. MJ: I remember Dad having all of you guys, when he brought fresh fish, salmon, back, he'd have you guys going around, give everybody in town a couple of fish. TA: Yeah, and it's still happening. We still do that. PP: Does every family do that, whenever they get fresh, or was that your family? TA: That was kind of our family, I think. MJ: But I think Native families did it. TA: Yeah, that's true. MJ: The older traditional Native families did it. TA: So when I went up there I just give it away to the whole town too. PP: Was this something, the September fishing, that even the oldest people would go to their fishcamps, even after they couldn't really fish very actively themselves? TA: The last time I remember Gramma being there was in '63 or '62. Or was it '58? MJ: No, I think she was up there later. I was away at school and she was up there later with you guys cause I saw pictures of later times.
TA: Oh yeah, I came back from college and went up once more in the '70s. It was the late '60s. MJ: I don't know when it was but I know I've seen pictures of when you guys and Gramma went up later. TA: She was probably 80 years old then. And my Grampa was in his 60s, so whoever could walk, I think, went. PP: You said that as a child you really looked forward to it, partly because you got out of school -- TA: One minor reason, yeah, plus it was real nice up there in the fall. PP: Yeah. But this was something that was just a special time for you? TA: Yeah, really a special time for us, us kids. Cause when they did that they threw all the guts in the river and there'd be millions of trout and all you'd do is throw the hook out there and catch trout. PP: Oh, so you'd have trout just for a change, for a meal? TA: They'd let us kids fish for trout while they're splitting fish, cause there'd be a lot of trout eating the fish guts and they'd let us kids do all the trout fishing cause the adults would be busy. And it was fun. We used to catch a lot of trout for them as a kid. They'd let us do trout fishing. And I remember some big ones. The biggest one I remember was probably like this. As a kid that's a pretty big fish. PP: Well, it sounds as though one of the things that you were taught was respect for the animals. TA: Yeah, oh yeah. You don't kill anything unless you plan to eat it. That's their old belief. Never waste anything. Period. I mean, you don't waste anything. That's just the way it is. PP: Did they save the fish heads? TA: Oh yeah, ate everything, fish heads and all. I mean us kids would eat 'em raw, the fish heads raw. And they seemed pretty good back then. PP: Did they ferment them? I've heard of fermented fish heads. TA: They fermented fish down here, the red salmon. PP: Down in New Savonoski? TA: Yeah, cause they had -- that's where we learned to smoke fish. I used to live with Gramma in the summer before I went to high school and helped her put up fish.
PP: So your summers would be spent in New Savonoski with that run of fish, and then September head up there TA: Catch the same run, yes. PP: Okay, as it moved up. Then come back for a while until mid-October if you were lucky enough to get to go with the men up bear hunting. TA: Yeah. PP: You said they didn't eat much of the bear meat. TA: Yeah, because it tasted like fish. And a lot of the bear they caught the ones inland, and they ate those, because it didn't taste like, that horrible fish taste to it. PP: And you said that there are fewer fish now partly because of so many more bears. Do you think commercial fishing affects that as well? TA: Well, I think they both do, but I think the big culprit are those millions of bears that are up there right now. PP: What about tourism or sport fishing? I see pictures that that's what's going on in that area too. I don't know if you have any idea how many fish they take; I wonder if that affects TA: Well, I remember back when they first started enforcing that area, they had a limit of 5 red salmon per day with a hook. And I used to see a lot of tourists out there doing this, throwing it on the beach. Of course we didn't do that, we'd catch it and eat it.
PP: Did you use outboard motors? TA: Yeah. PP: And do you think the changes in technology that you use affected numbers of animals that you could get or did you just adjust? TA: I think we adjusted because back then I think we caught more than people with modern today, because I think there was more around then. PP: How many fish did you family use a year, do you think? TA: The last time I remember going up with Mom and Dad in the '70s, we went up in a converted sailboat and we filled it. And those things held 2000 of those reds. Now 2000 of those reds are smaller, because they deteriorate as they go up. I think we caught around a couple thousand. PP: And you used that up in a year? TA: We used them up, yes. Sounds like a lot but it isn't when you have a big family and you're giving a lot of it away. It's a delicacy. I like it. PP: What about the seagull eggs. Was that something you could save, like in oil or something or you have to eat 'em right away? TA: You have to eat 'em right away, and a lot of times there'd be little birds in 'em already and I didn't really eat them too much. PP: You talked about the enforcement of the sport fishing rules. Has enforcement changed in your memory within the park? The level of enforcement, that sort of thing? TA: Yeah, when I was little I remember us going up there and kind of having the run of the place. I mean we kind of did what we want but as we got older the restrictions became more prevalent. I mean they added more "do not do this" stuff. PP: Yeah. What age did you consider yourself a seasoned fisherman -- I mean, somebody who knew what you were doing up there, subsistence fishing?
TA: Oh, I'd say around 10. Cause at 10 I was splitting fish and gutting and doing all that work adults do. PP: Tell me about the boats that you'd be in. You'd anchor one end of the net to the beach and then drift down with the other? Or you're drifting with a free net? TA: You're drifting with the net. You never anchor it. If you anchored it you'd catch nothing. Cause they can see the net, it was clear water, so you had to drift, to kind of drift up on a school of fish before they swim away. Now if you anchor it, they'd stay away from that stuff hanging down in the water, and don't go in the net. So you had to drift to do that. Otherwise it wouldn't have worked. PP: How many people in a boat? TA: I remember Teddy and myself in the boat and my Grampa on the beach walking along the riverbank. There'd be two in the boat and one on the beach. PP: And what's the function of the one on the beach? TA: To hold the net against the shore so that all the fish won't swim by. Cause they'd see the net and go right around it. But if you held it, you'd cut off their escape route. PP: So in your boat you would look for the school of fish and you wouldn't just blindly put it down, you'd wait for the school TA: No, we'd look for the school of fish and then set the net out and then drift with it. It was fun. That's why I miss those days. PP: And so then, with your end of the net, you'd just pull it in, sort of back into shore and then onshore the three of you would haul the net onto the beach? TA: Or there'd be somebody waiting where the spot we'd reach, and then if there's too many fish in the net they'd have to pull it up onto the beach, otherwise we'd pull it into the skiff. And then bring it to shore. PP: As you're coming to shore you'd pull it in? TA: Yes, mm hm.
PP: Okay. In terms of the resources that people used in New Savonoski and South Naknek, it sounds as if the fish have always been the most important. Is that true? TA: It's still true. PP: So even though there were lots of caribou and reindeer in the past, and moose, and bears, it was the fish. TA: It was the fish that was the main source of food for humans and dogs. Dogs ate fish too. The rule of thumb was, in judging how much fish you were going to catch, you figure you're gonna feed your dog one fish a day, and take it from there. If you have 20 dogs, that's 20 fish per day. Figure that out, that's 365 times 20, that's a pretty good chunk of fish. But who had 20 dogs? I think the average dog team was anywhere from 10 to 15. They still ate a lot of fish. That's why they went up here to drop those bears, cause they were easy to catch up here . PP: Any wintertime activities in the park? TA: No, cause it was too far away. Dad used to trap here. I trapped here . PP: What we've got marked as number 7. TA: Mm hm. I guess PP: What did you trap there? TA: There was everything there. Beaver, mink, lynx, land otter, you name it. PP: And that was primarily for the pelts? There must have been a fur buyer came around? TA: Yeah, that's when trapping was worth it. Now it's not worth anything. PP: Has the number of beavers increased here the way it has farther down? TA: You mean lately? PP: Yeah. TA: Yeah, I think so, cause nobody's trapping them. PP: Do you notice that that's changing the tributaries and the salmon streams at all? TA: Well, I don't know. I would think it does, cause they dam up a lot of little creeks, so the fish can't go into their spawning grounds.
PP: The other thing I was wondering about was the reindeer and the caribou. There were reindeer herders in this area but there were also caribou. Did the herds mix? TA: I think they did, because I think the big caribou are gone, the great big monsters that used to be around. Cause I think they mingled with the reindeer, so I think we're eating half reindeer and half caribou out there. PP: Was there a caribou harvest so people could count on getting some caribou -- or some reindeer rather every year? TA: I remember Dad having a caribou herd. MJ: You do? TA: Yeah, you were tiny. I think I was 5 or 6. And then when I was 19 or 20 I came back from college and went caribou hunting. I got a big monster caribou and I brought the whole thing home and I brought it into the house and Dad says, "That's my caribou!" I said, "No it isn't, that's mine, I caught it!" He says, "No, lookit." Pull the ear mark, his mark. They all had separate marks on their ears, they cut their ears. PP: I didn't think you could herd caribou. I didn't think they liked to be domesticated. TA: This one was a huge one, it had his mark on it. Shocked me. That thing must have been 30 years old. PP: Wow. Can you think of any other uses of the animals besides, obviously fish for food, and people used the antlers for anything or the bear teeth or claws? TA: I heard them talk about antlers used for spearheads and moose hide used for mukluks because the soles were really tough and they used moose hide for that. PP: When you were growing up, what were coats -- did your mom make your coats with some of the furs that your dad trapped? TA: No, cause they sold them. And they bought coats with the money .
PP: Okay, so let me make sure that I've got the parts of the bear that you used, was the bear fat that I assume you rendered that and kept that, and then any other parts of the bear that I'm missing? If they were interior bears you'd eat the bear meat. But if they're the fish-eating bears that wouldn't be as good. TA: I remember the bear feet. You know, people eat pigs' feet and stuff? That's the best part of the bear, is the bear feet, because they didn't taste like fish or anything. But yeah, that's the only thing I remember about bear. I didn't like the taste of it. PP: I've always wondered. When you trapped, did you eat any of the meat from the animals that you got? TA: Oh yeah, sure, definitely. PP: So the rule of thumb was that you'd eat as much as you could, or all of it? TA: As much as you could. PP: Did you dry any of that meat? TA: No, what we didn't use we used as bait to catch more. Like beavers, what you didn't eat of the beaver you'd use as bait to catch wolf. Cause they like beaver meat too. PP: So you'd also trap wolf. Did you say wolverine? TA: Yeah, wolverine, lynx, everything. PP: Ermine around here? TA: I don't know about ermine. I remember mink and is that's what's called weasel, ermine? PP: Yeah. TA: Yeah, there's a lot of those, course their fur wasn't worth much, tiny things. PP: Except to the kings of England. TA: Course if you didn't kill it right you'd smell up the whole house for a long time, the ermine. You had to know how to skin those things. The weasel. PP: I guess the only other thing I'm wondering is if you can think of specific experiences you had, especially as a kid that you tell your kids about the time that -- I mean important or fun or exciting or dangerous stories from your own life about the subsistence pursuit.
TA: Whenever I'm up there I try to include them, so I used to bring them up as kids so they could enjoy what I tried to enjoy. I tried to show them, at least to bring them up every year too, until they all grew up and moved away. None of 'em are here right now. PP: Do you still send food to them? Do they live in Anchorage? TA: Yeah, I'm trying to get a caribou so I can send it to Robbie, my middle son, but it's tough -- you need a snowmachine right now. It's tough going with the four-wheeler. PP: But that practice still continues of sharing, sending food to relatives wherever they are? TA: Oh yeah. PP: Do you get food from other parts of the state? TA: Yeah. Chignik. Halibut, crab, redfish from Chignik Lake, cause their fish are a little different down there, huh? They taste a little different. I enjoy that. And let's see, what else we get from other places; stuff we don't have here. MJ: Dried sayalleq? Tamuuq. TA: Yeah, they prepare their stuff a little different down there. PP: Are they your relatives, is that why they send you food? TA: They're relatives, huh? I guess they're cousins MJ: I guess because they're Katmai people too TA: Yeah, they originated from the same place. MJ: I just got a box of redfish from Afonie out there. TA: Oh you did? Give me some! MJ: I will. And Tony sends up the dried fish we shared with everybody. They send us some because -- is our redfish still illegal? TA: No, it's legal now. PP: So, here's another question about the use. Are there times of the year, not counting when you've just gotten all the food, that you save the food up? In other words, specific times that you know you want to be sure and have subsistence foods to use? TA: Summertime. I mean, during the summer until October, the fish.
PP: What about at Slavi and Easter; are those times when people really want to have subsistence foods so they might save them? TA: Oh yeah. Usually you'd see smoked fish and -- you probably PP: I had some! TA: Yeah, that's part of why people made it. PP: Are there other times of the year like that that you save it for? How about like Namesdays? TA: We used to have feasts when we had Namedays. Go to church, come back and Gramma'd made a big meal, and invite everybody. The Nameday is just like a birthday. PP: People still do that here? TA: No, they don't do that anymore, huh? No, that kind of disappeared. MJ: I think the last one I heard of was Anishia's . She had a nameday. PP: Your sister? MJ: I know we do it for our own family. TA: Oh yeah, yeah. I don't even remember my nameday. I gotta look on the Russian calendar and find it, I guess. I remember going up here too. PP: Up to, really TA: This clear spot, right by this creek. PP: Yeah, where the creek enters into Iliuk arm? Is that where Old Savonoski is? TA: That'd be 12 . Yeah. PP: So you actually went up to visit the site? Was there anything standing when you went there? TA: There was crosses yet. PP: Really! Anything left of the church? TA: No, all we saw was depressions in the ground. PP: Was that an emotional experience for your Gramma and her husband? TA: No, she didn't want to go back up there. Because she thought if she did she'd die. That was her belief. She didn't want to go back and see it. MJ: I think it's because she felt so sad. TA: Yeah, probably. MJ: And that's where her children were buried. TA: Yeah, three of 'em. That's the three crosses we saw.
PP: Were they casualties of the eruption or this was before the eruption? TA: Before, yeah, before. MJ: Theodore was named after Gramma's son. TA: Yeah, the older son. MJ: Fyutula, she called him. PP: And what other old settlements -- where were the other old settlements that -- there was Ikak or something like that? TA: They talked about the whirlpool here , and of course it's probably not a whirlpool now. PP: And that was where MJ: Isn't that where McCarlo was from? Grosvenor? PP: And what was the name of that? Or do you remember what the name was? TA: I think I remember her saying Qukaqlliq or something that meant "halfway." PP: Was she born in Savonoski, your Gramma? TA: I think so, huh? MJ: I think so. Must have been. And Taata's from right here. PP: Douglas. TA: Kaguyak. Is there a Kaguyak in Kodiak too? PP: Yeah. Mary Jane was saying that maybe means "sandy," "place of the sand" or something? Does that ring a bell? MJ: How would you pronounce that, Theodore? TA: Kaquyaq? MJ: I thought it might be "sand" if it was kaugyaq, but I might be wrong. TA: Fox or -- no, fox is kaugyaq. PP: Of course you don't know if the people who wrote it down were hearing it correctly. MJ: I thought it might mean "sand." But qukaq is "half", and it must be because it's halfway to Katmai. Must mean that, huh? I don't know, that's what I thought.
TA: I saw pictures of Taata up -- where's that mountain, the one that blew up? I've got a picture of him guiding MJ: I wonder who he guided? PP: The National Geographic people, maybe? MJ: I have no idea. Cause there were so many trips, there were about five or six trips. Some by National Geographic, some by Griggs. TA: They talked about him being a -- what'd they say about him, now? He was too -- too something. MJ: Maybe you're thinking of that Smithsonian guy. TA: Oh yeah, he called him "Smart-aleck Aleut?" MJ: "Smart-Aleck Mixed blood" because he wouldn't bring 'em up to the caves or something to look for the masks. PP: And what was his name? He was Nick MJ: Melgenak. PP: Sounds as though you didn't spend as much time in the northern part, that mostly you were in the southern. MJ: You could only go in as far as here, that's all that's connected. TA: Oh, that reindeer camp was right there . Johnny's cabin. MJ: Oh, is that where it was? TA: Yeah, that's why he stayed there. PP: 14, okay. And that was whose reindeer camp? TA: Johnny's. MJ: In the later years we just called it "Johnny's Lake." I don't know whose TA: Oh yeah, the women went up here to pick berries. PP: Oh yeah, that's important. TA: Mom talked about going all the way up on top here. PP: Up Dumpling Mountain? TA: Yeah. PP: As well as up Savonoski River? TA: Yeah. PP: What's this? MJ: Ruins. What's that. Do you know anything about that? .
PP: On the north shore of the lake. TA: Yeah, that's where I took somebody to -- there's a little creek there you can fish. Remember when they used to kick us out of here, we used to go over there and fish. Yeah, that's strange because I saw drums, there's drums and everything there. PP: Drums as in oil drums? TA: Oil drums, yeah. Looks like somebody was panning for gold or something. PP: Your gramma? TA: Yeah, she said the way they taught their younger men into becoming men is they'd send 'em into a wolf den with wolves in it. They'd send him in there. If he comes back out he's a man. That was one good test, all right! . But that's the way they tested boys into becoming men. That's one story I heard from her. PP: Since I forgot to ask you about ptarmigan before, even though I gather you didn't do ptarmigan hunting in there, but why don't you talk about getting ptarmigan. Did you snare? TA: Yeah, they taught us how to do everything. I mean, those things were easy back then. Cause you find a ptarmigan trail and you make a snare out of a string. And they taught us how to put grass around the string and go back and find ptarmigan snared. But they were everywhere back then. Now there's -- they adapted. They feed at night. Now they get away from all these hunters. But I think they're adapting nowadays, even over toward Dillingham way. Because they say the ptarmigan disappeared, but they didn't, they just adapted.
PP: What about rabbits? Are there rabbits around here that people snare? Or hares? TA: Mmm. I don't know now. Back then we used to do a lot of it. But not today. PP: Yeah. But I mean it used to be -- you hear in the interior that that was a starvation food, that you could always get rabbits, but that there's not a lot of nutrition in them. TA: Yeah, well, we didn't eat too much of it, because of what you said, it was nothing. MJ: Beaver, porcupine, and squirrels. TA: Yeah, squirrels. MJ: They're delicious. I used to think they were, anyway. I haven't had any in a while. TA: They were delicious. Pot-roasted squirrel, man, that's nice. MJ: That's a subsistence village, that Savonoski. PP: Oh, and could you tell again so we can record it about the first fish of the year, what you do with that. TA: They would give it away to whoever, your relatives or friends, but that was their belief, to give the first thing that you catch of the year away. And it's the same thing with an animal. Caribou, moose, whatever. PP: And a lot of people still do that? TA: They still do that. End of Tape