Vera Angasan was interviewed on March 23, 1998 by Pat Partnow and Vera's daughter, Mary Jane Nielsen, at Vera's home in King Salmon, Alaska. In this interview,Vera remembers her own role as a child in the household of Pelagia and One-Arm Nick Melgenak, helping haul water and wood and helping with the late summer redfish harvesting. Her memories continue through her adulthood, when she and her husband, Trefon Angasan, Sr., took their ten children to Kittiwik camp at the mouth of Brooks River to obtain the year's supply of redfish, and used other parts of the park to gather food for the year, from seagull eggs to moose and bear. Vera also talks the uses of a number of plants, both for medicine and food. During much of the interview, she was looking through plant books to identify by English name the Alutiiq plants she was familiar with.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Katmai National Park
Date of Interview: Mar 23, 1998
Narrator(s): Vera Angasan
Interviewer(s): Patricia Partnow, Mary Jane Nielsen
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Fishing at Kittiwik
Chores she did as a girl, including berry picking and gathering wood
Splitting and hanging fish
Staying in a cabin, and making fry bread
Berry picking, and the presence of bears
Use of bear fat and other bear parts
More about birds, and traveling by boat
Fish for people versus fish for dogfood, and stories about the Eating Rock
Raising children, and snaring birds
Visiting Old Savonoski
Impact of establishment of Katmai National Park, and ice fishing
Fishing and hunting regulations
Old stories about crow
Going to live with Pelagia and Nick Melgenak
Trapping cabin location
Hauling water, collecting wood, and types of things they ate when she was a child
Having fruit as a child, and drying fish on fish racks and protecting them from the rain
More about using traditional medicine to treat illness
Plants used and identifying their Alutiiq and English names
Using plants in the steambath
More about use of different plants
Use of different kinds of berries and plants
More about plants
Use of wild spinach (ciwasaq)
Trying to identify a particular plant with a yellow flower, and using seals
Using seals, and hunting beluga whales
Sharing parts of seals and beluga whales, and rendering the fat
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PP: Let me introduce -- we'll give you a copy of the tape and we're going to type it up so that you'll get a copy of the transcript too. Let's see; today's March 23, 1998, and I'm Pat Partnow and I'm meeting with Vera Angasan and with Mary Jane Nielsen at Vera's house and we're talking about the history of the Katmai area and how she used to use the land and still does sometimes. So maybe you can you talk about -- you know, start when you were -- your youngest memories of using this area. What you used to -- how you used to go out when you were a little girl, maybe, and collect redfish, or tell us something about when you were little and using the area. VA: Well, they usually always together, like four or five people, all the -- like Arsenia , and me, Ted. Teddy was little. He was too small. PP: Teddy Melgenak? VA: Yeah. He was not born yet I don't think. They used this boat, you know, little boat, put that -- they don't have to go far away. They just put the net out and they pull 'em in by hand. PP: This was at Kittiwik? VA: Yeah. Then they pick 'em all up and the put 'em on the racks. They make some kind of box like, you know, so the fish don't roll in the grass. In the sand. PP: They make the box like out of logs or something? VA: I could draw it. They put their fish in there. Like any old kind of big logs underneath there and on the side. So the fish don't roll over. Whole bunch of fish. Hundreds. Three hundreds! PP: This is before they clean them? Before they cut the fish? VA: Before the fish and game laws, you know. Not only us that fished. You know, other people too. They let it lay down and they cover 'em and they don't cut 'em right away. They bleed you know, when they cut 'em.
VA: They let 'em kind of die off a little bit, then they start to split them. And hang 'em. Exciting! We were young. We don't care. We never had gloves. We never cut from the sharp teeth. Then they hang 'em up on the fish rack, you know. Carry water from the creek, the one if the lake, that lake is rough. We go out, just roll up our pants, go out and get some water from the lake. Then when it's too rough we could go in the creek, get it in the creek. PP: What was your job when you were a little girl? VA: Well, lots of things, like light the bonfire to cook outside. Help, and in the evening in the log cabin I'd start, light the lamp, oil them up. And we sleep, all of us sleep on the floor, on the grass. They put real thick grass on the floor. About that much. And they change 'em again. On week later. PP: Clean grass every week. VA: Uh huh. Do you have to rest once in a while? PP: You can rest as often as you want. MN: I was thinking about how when you guys get ready to go from Savonoski, VA: Yeah, we go berry picking in this mountain. PP: Dumpling Mountain? VA: Dumpling Mountain. We pack wood from quite a ways. We better find some, like those old wood, deadly woods . I think there's some out there. You know, like, you know what I mean. PP: You mean like the beaver-stripped wood? VA: No, old wood. Aged wood. PP: Aged wood. Okay.
VA: Yeah. Kind of not green. They don't burn very good, those green ones. I think I got some in my yard. Or the wind blow 'em down maybe. There's one over there, it's almost fall, see? Deadly wood ? Yeah. We look for that kind of wood all over. There's lots up there. Each one of us carry one at a time. PP: Did you do some of the cutting, when you were little? Or when did you start learning to cut, I guess? MN: Splitting. Mom calls it "splitting". VA: I cut heads. Cleaned 'em. They don't take all the guts out. They don't save them backbone. They just throw 'em in the river. All the fish comes. PP: When did you become a good splitter? When you were a teenager or before then? VA: Teenager. I did lots of cuts. We hang fish. Old Lady Gramma split. PP: Several hundred you'd get every year? VA: Yeah, then they'd hang some whole fish. Upside down. Not upside down. PP: Kanartaq? How long did the fish have to hang before they're dry? VA: A month, three weeks. They cover 'em when they rain with that canvas. No blow-flies go on 'em. They go late in the fall. They start in August. Then they wait until September to start hanging. We stay up there three months. PP: So did it frost at nighttime? VA: Yeah, cold. PP: And you had a cabin that you stayed in? VA: Oh, that's the one I meant. We sleep in there. PP: With the grass on the floor?
VA: Mm hm. No bed. They put sleeping bags or canvas on top of it. And they make little tiny cupboards in the corner, behind the door, where they keep their food in there. Like tin containers. You know, those great big lard cans? You see them around, huh? PP: Mm hm. Right. VA: They put their food in those things. They don't only buy little bit stuff. Long time ago, they used to buy big stuff. PP: So you'd take big amounts of flour and coffee and sugar up there? VA: Flour and sugar and they'd bring lots of food. Some people go -- they ask, you know, if they could borrow. PP: Did Pelagia make bread and things like that while you were up there? VA: No, they let me make that. She mixed 'em. They don't make real bread. They just make this -- what you all call them? Kinertanguaq. PP: Kinertanguaq? MN: Kinertanguaq. VA: Just like you do, baking powder, salt, and sugar. That's all. You mix 'em in -- like them Indians, that kind. You work on it, and then you spread it out MN: In a frying pan with no grease PP: Oh, with no grease? VA: They do it outside. You light a fire. PP: And you put the pan on the fire and just VA: Yeah, they have that. You see those old timers, huh? Those sticks? They put two sticks underneath of it? Then they put the pot. MN: We'll have to show Pat what we mean, I guess, with that bread. PP: Sounds good. MN: It's good! PP: Did you have jelly with you? Honey, or VA: Yeah, you could eat 'em with butter, and a little sugar and butter. Jam. Nowadays they make 'em out of bread dough.
PP: Did you get greens while you were there, or was that too late for greens in August and September? MN: Did you guys get things like ciwasaqs? VA: Not up there. It's too late up there. Little bit cold up there. PP: Just berries. VA: They pick lots of berries. PP: What kinds? VA: Highbush cranberries, late in the fall. There was no berries around there too much because of that Katmai blow up, you know. MN: Only up high on the mountains? VA: Only in the mountains, I guess. We don't always go up the mountain, because it's too long ways. PP: They have lowbush cranberries up on the mountain? VA: Yeah. PP: Blueberries? VA: Blueberries and blackberries. Now they have roads up there. That's what I heard. PP: That's what I heard too. MN: Trails. PP: An established trail. VA: Trail. I think I went up there one time in the trail. You still have to climb the mountain. PP: What about bears? Did you ever see bears while you were out there fishing and putting up fish? VA: They gotta find 'em. There was no bears. PP: Oh. So they went hunting for them? VA: They have to find 'em up in Old Savonoski. PP: Oh, so they'd go hunting up this way for the bears? This is, I think that's VA: Oh, the bears never go near the river. PP: They didn't? VA: Only late in the -- I guess when everybody's gone. Long time ago. They eat a lot of berries. We could see them bears way up on the mountain. They eat lots of berries. They're scared of the people, long time ago. Any little noise, I guess they run away. That's how the bears were. PP: Different from now. VA: Different. PP: When they got a bear, did you -- must have dried the meat, or what'd you do with the meat? VA: They hang it. Then they just take the chunk off, like pinks and stuff, I guess. They just take the chunk off, then they bring him home, keep him hanging. They didn't have freezers.
PP: And then the fat too? VA: Yes. Oh, they make bear fat. They put 'em in a container, so. They scrape the stomach out, clean him all out and they let us wash him and then they blow it. They put the -- Gramma used to ... PP: And what'd you put in the stomach? VA: Bear fat! PP: Oh, so you put the fat back in? VA: Yeah, you have to strip that fat. I used to watch her split 'em about this thin and then she boiled. Boil the heck out of 'em, fire, water. Then they cool 'em off. Tastes good! It's like a ... PP: And then they'd render the fat and them skim it and then stick it in that stomach? VA: They put 'em inside that stomach. Blow it out and -- PP: How big was the stomach? VA: Bear stomach? Gee, let me see that. You see those, huh? Animal stomach? PP: I've seen a seal, but I've never seen a bear. VA: They blow 'em out. They're like this. Just like our stomach, I guess. They blow 'em out, they get that -- maybe this big, some of 'em. Round! PP: So maybe two feet, or 1 1/2 feet. VA: They had lots of air, I guess. Then they tie 'em up and hang 'em and dry 'em. PP: And then they'd use that through the winter? VA: Yeah. PP: Did you ever see 'em do anything with the guts? The bear guts? I've heard of those -- blowing those up too. MN: Long, long. PP: And then they used to make the coats out of 'em. VA: Some people did, I guess. I didn't see 'em do that. PP: Did they use the claws for anything? The bear claws -- did they use those? VA: I like 'em! Bear feet. The gristle's ... PP: Oh, to eat? VA: Yeah. That's my best! Bear feet! You ever taste 'em? MN: Yeah, I've tasted it. They ever use the sticks for anything? For decoration or anything?
VA: Gramma never used to save any stuff. She just let us throw 'em away. So we didn't know anything about 'em. Nowadays, they look for 'em, huh? PP: Yeah, yeah. How about the fur, the hide? VA: They dry 'em. They use 'em for mattress. It's smelly but keep you warm. PP: Did they ever sell those to the fur buyers? VA: Uh uh. _____ In the wintertime they use 'em in the sled. PP: Oh, yeah, that'd be great! VA: Nice and warm! Lots of fur! Same thing with the caribous. PP: What else did they hunt beside bear? VA: They hunt ducks up there. PP: What kinds? VA: Mallards. No, other kinds. They have little black heads. What would you call 'em? PP: A scoter or um -- VA: Little black heads on 'em. MN: You might want to turn it off while we're looking through this book. PP: Oh, that's okay. MN: It's okay? VA: We never see goose up there. Maybe in different area. PP: Scaup. That's what I was thinking of. VA: They have all kinds of ducks. There's some black ducks too up there. They dive underneath the water. PP: Did they ever hunt for moose or caribou up there?
VA: Mm hm. Everybody share. Like if they -- they were hard to find 'em, together they give 'em a piece and everybody shares. PP: Oh, here's a black one, here's a scoter. VA: That kind is hard to pluck. They're tough! I don't know if Gramma eat 'em. You hot? PP: No. VA: Are you? MN: Uh uh. VA: Oh, they see some swans along the lake though. PP: Some of the white swans? Do people eat those? VA: Yeah. They're good eating. PP: When you went up in the boat, what kind of boat would you take from Savonoski? VA: Old Savonoski? PP: Yeah. No! From New Savonoski, if you're going up the river, and up the lake to Kittiwik, what kind of boat would you take? VA: Sailboat or they call it "gasboat" and dories. PP: So you had an engine. You didn't have to row it all the way or sail it all the way. VA: Sailboat you have to. You stay on the side. PP: Did you go in one, everybody in one boat? VA: Yeah. PP: Did you take dogs with you if you went up? VA: They put the dogs in the -- sometimes they have to take the sailboat without sail and tow 'em to put the dogs and stuff in there. Sometimes they don't take the dogs, if they're gonna stay three weeks or one month, they let somebody take care of 'em. Then when they dry all those fish, they bundle 'em, then they tie 'em, 40 fish at a time. Heavy! They put 'em like that. There's a tail, they put 'em cross-ways. Lots of work.
PP: Now you said they did different kinds of fish. They did what -- kanartaq, and what other VA: Whole fish. PP: Whole fish. And when you're drying them, are there some for dogs and some for humans? VA: Yeah. PP: Which ones are for the humans? VA: Maybe the old ones, like old dried up ones for the dogs. They cut 'em up with ax, they cook for them. PP: Every year, when you got ready to go down, how did you feel about the trip? Was this one of the best parts of the year for you, the best times of the year, going down to Kittiwik? VA: Now? PP: No, when you were younger. VA: Oh, I didn't care, cause I didn't worry about anything. That was enjoyable. Fun! We could walk in the water barefoot. PP: Did you go by the eating rock in those days? VA: Mm hm. PP: Did you give the food to the rock when you were little? VA: Gramma and them used to. Not me. Now there's a whole bunch of us. MN: Now everybody. VA: Everybody. MN: But I remember too, Gramma was the only one that used to -- VA: They never let us. MN: Remember what she used to say when she VA: I don't know! MN: Theodore remembers, but I have trouble remembering the words. VA: Ah. I think she say like, "to return again," you know, go by 'em again. Give 'em food. I don't know we give 'em food for. MN: Theodore said she said something about "kufsinaq neq --" -- "Eat and so the fish will come back" or something like that. VA: I never listened. MN: I didn't either but Theodore remembered every word. He has it. I'll let you VA: Me, I didn't want to listen. VA: We'll let you listen to what Theodore said. He remembered the words. PP: Later on, when you had children of your own, and you used to go back, did you still look forward to that trip? VA: Yeah. PP: It was a lot of work. VA: It is.
PP: But you didn't mind? VA: I didn't mind. I don't know how I used to carry all those kids! PP: Yeah. Did you worry about the kids when you -- you have the fish, and you have all these kids running around; did you worry about them? That they'd get into trouble or anything? VA: Uh uh. They learned. You just tell 'em what to do, they learned. You have to teach 'em like, you know. Only Junior and them were mischief. They only think about bad things, but there's fun. You grow up with them. We'd go find those spruce hens too, up there. PP: Up at Katmai? VA: Uh huh. PP: Oh yeah? How did you get -- how did you catch them? Did you do snares? VA: Maybe .22. PP: Oh. VA: And they skin 'em. They got some around here. PP: So that's before they turn white then, huh? They're still brown? VA: Yeah. I hadn't seen them for a while! They taste good. You gotta get used to 'em. Spruce hens. They're just like ptarmigan. You skin 'em and eat 'em. Boil 'em, roast 'em. PP: So you used to get those, you yourself got the ptarm -- the spruce hens? VA: Yeah. Some people hit 'em with rocks, you know. They hide in the trees. There used to be lots of cranberries now, though, uh? You see them? MN: Cranberries? The highbush cranberries, I remember. VA: Yeah, you gotta go further up to look for them. Up to the mountain. PP: Did you ever used to visit Old Savonoski? VA: Once in a while, before they come home they go up there. PP: On the way home, kind of? VA: They didn't never go in the creek. It's too shallow. You have to walk.
PP: Could you still see buildings up there? VA: No, there's just grass growing. PP: All covered by the ash and then grass? VA: Grass! You know, the grass get that thick in 20 years! Dead grass! You know that! Can't find nothing. Twenty years, you gotta dig down and find 'em. PP: When you would take the boat up the creek with the nets, were you in the boat or did you hold the net? VA: I hold the net. Walk in the water. What did Teddy say? He was little. PP: He remembered that he was often in the boat with his friend. He didn't remember the women doing as much fishing, but he said both men and women split the fish. VA: Yeah, that's how they did it long time ago, the woman split fish. Hardly anybody, even white people used to go up there and get them for the dog food. PP: From South Naknek? VA: From Naknek. Only ones that I remember is Nick Olympic used to go up there and pick some fish a couple of days, then they'd go home. Only stay five days or so. They hang their fish, but I don't know how they -- they never had good fish, though. They just get them for their dogs. Everybody use to come up to Savonoski, and they know they're gonna get a good treat. PP: Oh, did you share? VA: They fill up their cache, about that high with fish. I think about 'em. I never used to like 'em. PP: Oh really? VA: Now that I think about 'em, lots. PP: What about END OF SIDE
PP: Used to be outside of the park, but then this is the old park boundary, and then they moved it. VA: Yeah, they have to, now, you know they have fast boats, they go down there and find some eggs and they bring 'em back. They share, you know. PP: How would you decide when to come back up in September? VA: When it gets cold, you gotta go back. Before the ice goes on. PP: Later in the winter did you used to go ice fishing up in the lake? VA: Not up there. PP: Where. VA: Savonoski River. Naknek River! MN: But you and Dad used to fish right over here too, I remember, up by Naknek Lake. VA: Oh yeah, Trefon and I used to fish all the time. He fell in the water one time. PP: He fell in the water? VA: He fell through the ice. Shallow water. We were towing the skiff in the back. PP: So he's pulling the skiff, he's on the ice and the skiff is behind him, and he fell through? VA: Yeah! He hang on! PP: Where did he get dried off? VA: He had -- in the truck. PP: So it was close enough VA: He had coveralls, that's what he used. Take his wet clothes off. In the springtime PP: How do you prepare those fish that you get ice fishing? VA: Sometimes we don't get nothing! Sometimes we get something. PP: Do you split those? VA: Yeah, we cook 'em for a meal. We just go for a trip, I guess. PP: You said long ago, when you were little, there were never any park service people. When did you remem-- when did people start coming around, the park service? Do you remember when you first noticed them? VA: Once in a while there was people. I don't really remember. They used to, like they came with a boat and they look around, taking pictures. PP: Oh yeah?
PP: Did anyone ever try to make you stop fishing? VA: No? There was no fish and game with them. No fish and wildlife, or what you call those, game wardens? There was none. People picked as much as they want. PP: What made you decide not to go up there any more? VA: They won't let us no more. It's a law. PP: Oh, so they started enforcing the law? VA: Some people, they don't like to go up there, you know. Kind of lazy, I guess. PP: Cause it's a lot of work. VA: Yeah. You got to take care of your fish. PP: How would you feed your dogs if you didn't go up there? VA: I don't know how they feed 'em. They buy some canned salmon from the canneries, or, you know, canned salmon was cheap a long time ago. I see a lot of people feed their dogs with it. They just open a can and mix it up with oatmeal. That's how Gramma and them used to do that too, when they ran out. They had to cook for 'em all the times. Leftovers. They saved lots of leftovers. They cooked, like, the meat gets too dry, they boil it and put tallow on there. You know what tallow is? PP: Isn't it a kind of a fat from the -- like deer or caribou, or something? VA: Yeah. They have to put that stuff in that. Half a five gallon, half a drum, I think, half a drum a barrel, you know. Cooked for them. PP: How many dogs did you have in your team? VA: Seven PP: Do you remember -- I don't know if people had time; did they have time to tell stories while you up there, in nighttime, when you were going to bed? Did the old people tell stories? VA: Which ones? MN: Gramma and them? PP: At night did they tell stories about the old days or about Katmai? VA: She did! You know, when I was little, I didn't understand Native too much.
VA: Cause when I was a little girl, I used to stay with the white people down at PAF. I know they used to tell stories, but I didn't know what they were talking about. Cause I didn't understand 'em. Then I learned from listening to the people. MN: Do you remember any of those old stories? VA: I remember Gramma used to tell about the -- that crow. PP: Crow stories? VA: Crow story. About he go around town, and then he sings, and -- I don't know the words of his singing -- and about the old people story. Some people are good at it. Do you remember that? She used to tell you all the time. MN: I know. I wish I would have written 'em down when I was small, but I just remember little parts of them, that's all, that she used to tell us. VA: That's what I do. That's all, a little part of it. PP: So there was a story about crow going into town and there's a song that he sings? VA: Yeah, singing. And I remember in Savonoski, olden days, you know, she used -- when we see those birds coming back from the south MN: Swallows? VA: She sing! MN: I remember her too, singing. VA: Yeah, she singing for 'em and talk to them outside. PP: Were they special kinds of birds? VA: Goose. Yeah. Singing. You remember that? MN: Mm hm. VA: She was real good at singing and stuff, telling, name everybody. I wish I could remember. But I was too young. I guess I didn't care.
PP: How old were you when you started living with her? VA: Maybe about six, or seven, eight. I used to go over there all the time, sneak something to eat . They -- up there, they boil sugar for candy. PP: And they make it hard? VA: Put water, and it tastes good. You know that sugar? They call it cooked sugar candy. MN: You moved to Taata and Gramma's when your mom died? VA: Yeah. I didn't stay with my mother too much because she send me down to the cannery all the time with those people. Only once in a while I was staying with 'em. But I used to be scared of Little Jimmy cause he was too mean. Boy, I was happy that I didn't stay with them. My mother call 'em, he let me -- get One-Arm Nick and his wife, Pelagia, and them, he hand 'em to me and he said they could have me. Boy, I was glad! Poor Steve , though. PP: He didn't go with you to live with them? VA: My brother? He wouldn't let him. PP: Too little? VA: Too little. He's mischief. MN: Who wouldn't let him? VA: Little Jimmy . MN: Oh. PP: Why would she -- why did she sing to the birds when they came? VA: That's how they do that long time ago, maybe, they call it superstitious, or something. PP: Just welcoming them back, is that what she's doing? VA: Yeah. Welcome 'em back, we'll see 'em next year. PP: It's a very pretty custom, I think. VA: Yeah. PP: I know from talking to your son that your husband had a trapline. Did you used to go trapping with him on the trapline? VA: No. PP: He went by himself or with other men? VA: He went with friends, yeah. Smiley's dad. Knutson. What is his first name again? MN: Johnny Knutson . VA: Johnny Knutson .
VA: They stay in the red cabin. PP: Where's that on the map? VA: Here. Then him and Paul used to go. He had another cabin someplace. But they have to go, maybe this one. Somebody marked that. PP: Is that J? Mm hm. VA: He had another little cabin. That was his -- how do you say? Brother-in-law's cabin MN: Alec Johnson? VA: Alec Johnson. MN: Effie's dad? VA: That's Dad's brother-in-law. PP: Okay. I don't remember which one it is, but we've got that from -- it's #7? VA: Mm hm. You have to walk up, I guess. I never been there, but MN: You never? There's like that little loaf-of-bread hill, remember? That hill there and you could go straight back. VA: You guys went up to the cabin? I wonder why I never! MN: You were too busy with little kids, probably. VA: We never had baby sitters. We just take care of them. Busy. MN: All of us piled in. Babies and everybody. They didn't leave us home. VA: They sleep lots. Eat. PP: Let's see, we've talked about birds a little bit, and fish. What about VA: Bear. The bear meat. PP: And what about caribou or reindeer? Is that something? VA: They never had caribou up there. PP: Oh, they didn't? But you would get caribou down here. VA: Only moose. PP: Oh, moose. VA: Mm hm. They gotta go find 'em. I don't remember if they had caribou up there, no time. Right now, too, huh? No caribous up there. MN: I never did see any. I saw wolves up there with -- VA: You know, they didn't have no -- not too much trees up there. Just no trees. You know, bushes. Bushes like -- I don't have no bushes here either. I cut 'em all off. Bushes growing like, you know, willows, and cottonwood. PP: Yeah, like down Naknek, toward there? VA: Yeah. They never had those up there.
VA: Underneath, I guess. Dead. They had lots of alders in that one road that goes to the -- I used to be kind of scared to go through there. Too dark! Lots of leaves, you know. PP: You mean the one that now goes back to the Valley of the Ten Thousand Smokes? VA: I used to -- even the -- I used to go along the lake. I don't want to -- I was a scarecrow, I guess. To get some water. We carry lots of water. PP: Oh, you did? VA: Pack wood. Wash clothes. Help 'em wash clothes by hand. PP: Oh, yeah, gee. That's hard. What would you take with you when you'd go down every August? What supplies did you have? VA: Like Pelagia and them. MN: You mean going up? PP: I mean going up, yeah. MN: To us that's going up. VA: Lots of food. PP: But wouldn't you eat mostly fish when you were there? VA: Every day! Boiled fish every day. PP: Did you get tired of it? VA: I never used to it. I used to just throw it on the grass. PP: Oh no! Then what did you eat? VA: Fried bread! With lots of jam! And other kind of meat. I used to like meat. I liked -- I didn't like fish. Now I love 'em. I was like Martin , I guess. They let me fry bread. I used to eat some. Outside. Big pan full of dough! Leave that much. For days they'd keep 'em in the cupboard. They fill you up. With jam or peanut butter. PP: Did they have peanut butter in those days? VA: They had everything! PP: I always think of peanut butter as modern. VA: Uh uh. Not modern. They buy 'em in big jars. Gramma and them had everything. I don't know how they used to get those. Oranges and apples. MN: I know, I used to like to eat there. VA: They'd bring 'em up there.
VA: Then they -- she cut 'em up and then we eat half, half a orange, or sometimes one quarter. She give us seeds. We were real happy! We could eat 'em, skin and all! . They bring those figs, prunes, things out of boxes. They keep good like that, I guess, inside sawdust. PP: Those will keep forever. VA: I remember they used to let me shake that sawdust. PP: Oh, it's in sawdust? VA: Sawdust. PP: Oh, okay. To preserve it? Keep it from sticking together, I guess maybe? VA: Keep 'em from not getting rotten. They gotta have flour and sugar and coffee and tea. They drink lots of tea. PP: Did you keep the fish racks up every year? They stayed up through the winter? VA: They just leave 'em. They just kind of put 'em up, you know. Pile 'em up together, then they come back, they're there. Nobody take 'em. I think you see them pictures of it, huh? PP: I don't know. We might -- Carvel might have shown us pictures of the fish racks. MN: You have pictures too, don't you, Mom? Of those fish racks? VA: I don't think I have 'em here. MN: I have some in Anchorage or South Naknek. PP: When they had to cover them up for rain, what'd they cover 'em with? Canvas? VA: Canvas. Sometimes they just turn 'em over, skin PP: Skin out to protect 'em? VA: Yeah, skin out. That's what we -- that was our job, when it's blowing and sunshining. When it's blowing and cold weather, blowing, they dry real fast. PP: So then you turn the skin in? VA: Out. PP: Oh, skin out then? VA: Meat part out. PP: The meat part out. Right. VA: Yeah. MN: Then when it rains you -- VA: When it's gonna rain then they holler to us to go turn the fish over! We hurry up and go turn 'em over. PP: Mm hm. Were there lots of kids when you were young? I mean, did you just all play together or was it a lot of work more than play?
VA: Lotta work. Teddy's mom used to help lots. Malia . PP: I heard you were named after her. MN: Mom named me after her. VA: Yeah, she used to take care of me, washed me up. You know, I never have no kind of illness when I was little. I shouldn't talk about it now. No kind. PP: Lucky. VA: Lucky. I had real good skin, no pimples, nothing. MN: You were lucky. VA: No sores. Only if I cut myself though, get sore. Bandage 'em up. Sometimes just leave it open. PP: Did Pelagia have medicines for cuts and things? VA: Uh uh. They tear up some kind of -- if somebody cut, she tear up flour sacks, they clean 'em up and hang 'em. They tear 'em up for a cut. PP: Bandages? VA: Yeah. MN: They don't have plants or anything they put on 'em? VA: Huh? MN: They don't put any kind of plant or anything? VA: Uh uh. PP: Did -- Teddy was remembering she used to -- Pelagia used to talk about the flu -- the 1918 epidemic. Do you remember any stories she talked about that, when so many people died of the flu? VA: Up there? Not up PP: No, not up, but down at the villages. VA: They wouldn't let 'em go out. They didn't let 'em out. She said. PP: That was probably what saved them. VA: They never watched people when they die. That's what she said. They told 'em not to. That's what she said, her husband, you know, One-Arm Nick . Or first husband. They locked the doors, I guess. They cover the windows. That's what they -- long time ago, that's what she used to say. Only your dad, he run away and go watch those people. And he came back, he was real sick. PP: Oh, he got sick?
VA: Yeah. They boiled some old fish, like, not really old fish, that dry smoked fish? They boil it up on the -- she said he said -- they boil it and maybe backbone. They used to save them backbones. Clear, clean, backbones. You boil 'em up and they said they let 'em drink that stuff. Till he's plumb full. Then they heave it out. PP: Oh boy. VA: That's how he used to ____ PP: And clean himself out? So he ran away because he wanted to see what was happening? VA: Yeah. He want to see what's going on, I guess. Come back, he got sick. PP: What did he see? VA: It's the flu, I guess. He just stay on the floor. Never get up. PP: Wow. VA: He's lucky. PP: Yeah. VA: If they didn't let him heave all that stuff, I bet he would be dead. They said those people from the state, they came there. That's what she said. PP: That's what brought the flu? VA: They came there, and they just locked the door. They don't let them go out. Cause the flu was so bad. PP: So it was a quarantine, really. VA: There was hundreds and hundreds of people in that big cross. PP: Where's that? VA: Savonoski. It fall down, I think. I wonder if they could put another one there. PP: Teddy was talking about maybe putting it back up. VA: Yeah. PP: Maybe we could talk about subsistence, not in the park but downriver. Did you -- what kind of greens in the spring did you collect? Did you get -- what would you say, ciwasaqs? What did you do with that? Was that to eat or is that medicine? VA: They make akutaq out of 'em. PP: Oh yeah? VA: Yeah. You gotta boil 'em for a while though, make it real soft. Then you cool 'em off and cut 'em off and they use the shortening and sugar. Ooh, I like that. I still do that.
PP: What else did you collect? VA: When I was a young girl? PP: Or, when you were an adult too? VA: Oh, well, MN: What's the Native word for the wild celery that we used to eat with cereal? Wild celery. VA: What the heck do we call that now? Meluggaq.. PP: Meluggaq? VA: Meluggaq. I got a book yet. MN: Is that what Gramma called it? VA: Meluggaq. Wild celery. They get 'em from up the lake. By the mountains. Gotta be certain place, I guess. Way inside, by Savonoski. PP: Do they have the Native names in here? MN: No. VA: Some people call 'em different. Gotta pick certain kinds. They got some blackberries up there too. They don't eat that part. They just cut it off and they only eat this part. PP: Peel it? VA: Peel it. It tastes like celery. PP: Yeah, I've had it. It's good! VA: And medicine? See they let us pick those qawaluruq. PP: Is that the taarriqs? MN: Taarriq. VA: Taarriq. Those are -- PP: Were they like roots, like of MN: I'm trying to think of the name of them. I know what you mean. VA: Rabbit tails? Or whatever. I'll see if I can show you the picture.
PP: I know in Perryville, what they use for taarriqs, is, there's a bank, and overhanging bank, and then there's grass on top and then the roots come down underneath. So they go down and they cut off those roots MN: Oh, those are for the scrubs. PP: That's what they call the taarriqs. MN: The taarriqs are the one for PP: Oh, you've got other -- MN: What are those medicine things that they use for hitting your body in the steambath? Wormwood. PP: Oh, show me a picture. I don't know what that looks like. VA: There's some up Naknek Lake too. You gotta go along the beach. PP: Up at Naknek Lake they have these too? Yeah, same thing. You got these from Perryville? MN: No. VA: Anishia got 'em. MN: Where'd Anishia get those from, Mom? VA: Perryville. MN: Oh, Perryville! VA: Or that Chignik Lake. They used to make us pick them, those wild tea. PP: Labrador tea, they call it? VA: Yeah. PP: Yeah. I saw there's a bunch of that around here. And you ate that? MN: These things here. Things things, the taarriqs. VA: Yeah, another one, like qanganaruaqs? MN: Qanganaruaqs are yarrow. They're like a squirrel's tail. PP: Qanganaruaq. Yarrow. MN: That mean's squirrel's, just like a squirrel's tail. PP: And what do you use those for? VA: They use 'em for cuts. PP: So you'd like boil 'em up and make a paste? VA: They put boiling water and keep soaking 'em, then they put 'em in a cut. PP: They smell real good. END OF TAPE
VA: There's water, drinking water in that -- PP: Qanganaruaq. VA: I think they call those other ones that they used, caiglluk. What's caiglluk? Different kind of stuff again. PP: That's not the chamomile, is it? VA: They really smell. You see them growing everywhere. It's a different kind. They smell like -- caiglluk, they call it. I don't know the meaning of it PP: And they'd use that for medicine too? VA: They use 'em for medicine. You gotta be around Native, Cheek . You've forgotten all this stuff. They don't fall off, even in the winter. They stay on. I don't see them around here. MN: Oh, you're thinking about those VA: They have a little tiny thing on top. MN: -- like the eye medicine? That the one you're thinking of? VA: No. MN: Not that one? VA: The top is just like a -- maybe I got some other there. I picked some from down the beach. MN: Is it like a wild celery at the top? VA: Yeah, just like a wild celery. I see some down by the PP: It's not the Labrador tea? MN: No, it's like the wild celery. Almost like the cow parsnip, but it's different. Angelica, maybe. I betcha, huh? VA: Is this ciwasaq? MN: No. Different. I bet you that's the other one like the wild celery, but not the cow parsnip. VA: They got wild onions up there. MN: That's what it is. The one you call caiglluk is the one like wild celery but it's a little bit different. VA: It smells. MN: Yeah. Angelica is what the -- PP: Angelica? I bet it's in there under --
VA: That's highbush berries here, huh? They fix 'em different, too. They fix 'em with -- they boil it till all them busted, then they put sugar, and they smash up the fish eggs. PP: Oh. VA: Then they put 'em in there and it get real thick. PP: Huh. What would you do with the fish eggs that you got when you were up at the lake? Would you get fish eggs? VA: We eat 'em. I got some out there. PP: Is there a way that you preserve them, like in oil or water, or you just dry them? VA: Sometimes we eat 'em half frozen with oil. MN: Oh, that's so good! VA: Anishia love them. I got some down Anishia's house. I made some. MN: Do you have any here? Kanartaq here? VA: One bag. This is the kind they boil. I remember she used to let this PP: Rosewood VA: Are they poison? She boil 'em and she use 'em in her eyes. Just medicine. PP: Let's see what it says about using 'em . Oh yeah, you can make an omelet out of it. It says you could add it to salads or cole slaws VA: There's lots of it in Savonoski, in the swamp. They have pretty flowers in them. MN: I know what you're thinking of, those black lily. PP: Oh, yeah, those are very nice. Yeah, this says they used it for medicines, for colds or sore throats, or eyes, sore eyes. MN: Yeah. She used to put some in a jar, then she'd keep 'em all winter in a certain place. Then she'd put them in her eye. PP: That's this one? VA: Yeah. PP: Rosewood. Did you say what the Native name is? VA: Uh uh. I forgot. I should study 'em more. PP: What was the other one you were just talking about? MN: That stinky black flower like PP: Oh, yeah, the chocolate lily. MN: Chocolate lily. That's what it is. Let me see. That's what Mom has.
VA: Those stinky berries? MN: No, a flower. PP: It's a brown flower, kind of a pretty lily that opens up, and then it's the roots that you use, isn't it? VA: She used to make us pick those -- they had curly ends, we make a stick them out of trees. That kind. MN: Remember that kind? Those kind over by that -- PP: And this is the part, like rice or something like that. VA: Uh uh. There's none around here. MN: I remember seeing those on that -- the black flower, like, over on that little swamp, over by the place where people used to pack water, that spring? PP: Up at the lake? MN: Savonoski. VA: Lot of people don't know. And those ones that they call 'em cutnguaq, yellow flowers on them, they grow on the mud. MN: Oh, those are so good. PP: Is that the marsh marigold? MN: It's like a wild parsley, huh? VA: Yeah, she put some in boiled fish sometimes. MN: Oh, I used to pick that for her too. VA: You can't put too much, though, you get the runs. PP: Oh yeah? VA: Yeah. Just a taste, I guess. PP: Yeah, like an herb? MN: Cutnguaq. I'm trying to remember these so I don't forget 'em. PP: Cutnguaq. Say it again? VA: Cutnguaq. They look like a ear, right? You see the picture of 'em in there? On the rock? I see 'em in there. MN: Just a second, maybe I'll find it. I used to pick those for Gram too. PP: And that's what you'd put a little in boiled fish for taste? MN: Wild parsley like. That's lovage. I know about that. There's so many of them.
PP: Which one is the wild spinach? What's the name for them? MN: Ciwasaq. PP: Oh, that's the ciwasaq? MN: Wild spinach is ciwasaq, yeah. VA: The picture of it's in there. MN: It's almost like this but not quite, the one with the yellow flower. VA: That's not the one. I see 'em in there on the rocks. MN: Yeah, they're like a parsley. VA: Almost like parsley but MN: And they have a little yellow flower. VA: I thought you found 'em MN: Later. VA: You know what I mean, huh? MN: Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. They're real pretty little things. VA: Lots of these are growing in the ponds. PP: Yeah, did you have any use for those? VA: I don't know. They must, but I don't know. I try to find those, what she used to let us pick 'em, inside of trees. They have curly little things. PP: Oh, the ferns. VA: Ferns! Yeah. PP: Oh, those are good. VA: She'd cook 'em and you gotta eat 'em with something, though. Cleaning them was a lot of work! PP: Remember what she called those? VA: Gee, I can't. PP: How about mushrooms? Did you ever eat mushrooms? VA: Uh uh. They never let us. They said it's poison. PP: Well, lots of 'em are. We should look through that tonight and see if we can find that cutnguaq. MN: I saw it in here before but it's not on any of these pages under any of these names that I thought they would be under. Is parsley the stuff you see in restaurants? PP: Yeah, parsley. VA: This is wild flowers, though . Alaskan wild flowers.
PP: Now, see, this is good. If you're looking for a yellow flower, look in this area, where it's yellow. MN: Yeah, it is yellow. Hey, good deal! We'll find it. VA: I think I saw 'em in here. PP: Marsh marigold. That's what I was wondering if that's what it was. MN: Really? Let me look and see what a marsh marigold looks like. They almost have leaves like a VA: Maybe you'll find 'em. PP: I don't know which one it is. I bet you'll see before I would. VA: Lots of things that you don't find in there, you find 'em in here. What a pretty flower! Not around here, though. MN: It's kind of like this only different. Kind of like this, huh? VA: Yeah. MN: But there's a single flower on it. Teddy would know. He picks some. He had a big pot full of it. There's the fern. PP: Yeah. Beautiful. VA: Some are poison? PP: Uh uh. I don't think so. I think the ferns are good if you get them young. VA: We taste that juice, huh? Somebody make the juice. Remember that time when we were across the river? Blackberries. MN: Maybe tonight we can look and find these plants that Mom is talking about. PP: I don't want to forget to ask about seals. Did you use a lot of seals? Not upriver, I guess, but is that something you used a lot of? VA: Not Gramma and them. PP: No?
VA: Uh uh. Somebody'd have to give 'em. They didn't hunt those seals. Savonoski. Somebody give 'em some piece, and how she used to make seal oil, she'd cut the fat up in a big frying pan. Then she'd put that seal fat and that fat in there. I made some the other day. I gave it to Nola . You won't even smell it's seal oil. PP: And then you just cook it 'till it all turns to liquid? MN: Where'd you get your seal fat from? VA: I'm making seal oil, it's out there. From -- what's his name? -- Richard Wilson got one. Then he gave some to Maria , Bucko's wife, and she asked me to go show her how to make seal oil, because she likes seal oil. I make some for her and she got lots of fat left. She put 'em inside a freezer. MN: Lucky. VA: It's good, only you cook it on the stove. But it smell the whole house, you gotta cook 'em out there. MN: I like the old-fashioned way, where you just put it in a jar and PP: What, you let it render on its own? MN: Tastes better to me, the old way. PP: Is it a stronger taste that way? MN: No, it's not stronger, it just has a better taste, huh? The way you'd make it the old-fashioned way. Makes my mouth water. PP: Uh oh! How about belugas? Did they ever take belugas? VA: They catch belugas, and they share 'em through the village. They dry the meat; I like 'em dried. MN: Mom, I remember you telling me about hunting beluga with Dad. VA: Yeah. We towed a beluga over from the west side. It's a -- I think it was a little gray one or white one? PP: I think they're gray when they're little. VA: It took us a long time to -- then we hire Andrew Wassillie. They had that beluga. I just take a little tiny skin because I didn't like beluga. MN: Boy, I like it now. VA: Too bad, huh? I was kind of young, right? Don't know how to do them things. PP: Oh, you were just married? VA: Yeah.
VA: They just go crazy. The whole village had seal oil and beluga meat. And Andrew Wassillie cut 'em up. PP: Do you remember, did he give certain parts to people. VA: I like the skin now. MN: Oh, I do too, I just love that beluga. PP: There's lots of blubber on that too. Do you render that fat? VA: Gee, what did we do with it? We just gave it away. We just take some little tiny skin and piece of little meat. All those kids, all the kids say, "What's smelling here?" MN: But boy, I sure like it now. I haven't had some for a long time. VA: You guys want to have a drink or something? Juice or coffee or? PP: I'll turn this off for now. END OF RECORDING