This is the continuation of an interview with Mike and Dallia Andrew on March 6, 1995 by Bill Schneider and Don Callaway in Igiugig, Alaska. In this second part of a two part interview, Mike and Dallia talk about their lives before they were married, as well as their later hunting and trapping activities. Dallia talks about learning to sew and cook, and how holidays were celebrated including the preparation of specific foods for the occassion. Mike talks about traveling around the area and his hunting and trapping practices.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Katmai National Park
Date of Interview: Mar 6, 1995
Narrator(s): Mike Andrew, Sr., Dallia Andrew
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Don Callaway
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Life before marriage
Traditions about helping elders
Learning how to cook
Holidays before they were married
Food at holiday times
Holiday times and food
Holiday times and food (continued)
Traveling during the holidays
People on the Alagnak River
Family travel and hunting
Hunting practices (continued)
Log cabins used for hunting and trapping
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Bill: Okay. So Dallia, I wanted to ask you what you were doing before you got married, when you were a teenager. Where your family were and how you were living? Dallia: When I was teenager, we hardly travel. We mostly stayed home, where we are, where my folks was down below here, the flats. We hardly travel. We just stayed home. We just stayed home with my mom. My mama taught me how to do stuff like cooking, I cut fish. Them days we don't hardly travel out of village; we just sit home. Cause we hardly travel, we just stayed home. And most of the time we do is she teach me how to sew, she teach me how to cook, she teach me how to cut fish, smoke fish, all that she tell me. "When you get older, then you know how to do stuff." So she taught me all that stuff she learned when she was this, when she was small. So I try to listen. But sometime I don't. I want to play around so much, I hardly listen. But I remember some what she taught me. Them days we don't have like this, hot house. We have to keep wood, burn the fire. Towards the night stove go out, water freeze in a bucket. In the morning we have to thaw it out. It was that, them days used to be colder than now days, cold in the morning. And in evening. Then we have to hustle, pack water before evening, before too dark. Pack wood in before evening so we have enough for morning. Other things to do. We don't play around like nowdays, watch TV. In them days we don't have TV, just listen to the folks talk.
Bill: Were there stories that people would tell in the evening? Dallia: I hardly hear stories. But they usually tell me, "If you get bigger, older, help the elders", , tell me to help them elders. What they need, if they these elders, they can't hardly work. Pack water for them, pack wood for them. They tell me, teach me how to help the elders.
Bill: Tell me about the first piece of sewing you did. Dallia: First piece of sewing I did, I dind't hardly go much. I mostly poke my finger most of the time. Then I first knit, it was really small, too. I don't know how to go forwards. But I keep, she tell me, "Keep trying, you'll learn." So I keep trying and I pick up. Bill: Do you remember the first thing you made? Dallia: I don't remember first thing I make, but I first thing I make small socks, knitting. It wasn't sewing. Really small, I hardly put it on. It was so small, I couldn't go make it bigger. I didn't know how. But next time I learned more and more, time. It's hard when you first start on something. Bill: Sure, yeah. And who was teaching you, that time? Dallia: My sister, she teach me. Bill: Mary. Dalia: Mary, she teach me how to knit. But my mom's teach me how to make knit glove and sew glove or mitten, like, them days. They make glove and mitten for the socks and gloves. We hardly have anything. Sometime we hardly have yarn, you know. We rip that boughten sweater, rip em off, make it back on, make socks or glove out of it. We don't have this yarn to buy from, there's some in the store, but we don't hardly go store them days. But if we bought knitten sweater or something, we rip it off from there, we start like gunny sack, too. We rip them off, make arctic sock, them days.
Bill: Do you remember learning how to cook food? Dallia: When I first cook, I never watch my cooking. I want to play so much. I didn't know I burn my cooking. My first food wasn't taste that good, I guess. laughing Next time I know. I watch it so make sure I have enough water so it wouldn't dry and burn.
Bill: I'd like both of you to talk a little bit about the special holiday times when you were just teenagers, before you got together, before you got married. Do you remember special holiday times? Dallia: Special holiday like in our Christmas, January, that's when we're, our Russian Christmas. That's when we see that lot of people that, not that many, those days. They never travel a long ways, they just stay home. Bill: Tell me the first one you remember? Dallia: When we first remember holiday, Russian Christmas, I was surprised to see lot of people. Seems like it's lot to me. But way out in the bush all the time, hardly see people. That's pretty good, interesting to see. Bill: Where did you go that time. Dallia: We just stay home right here. Some guys'd go up, them days was too cold to travel for small kids. We stay home. Some mens go up Kokhanok with dog team. Was too cold, we didn't travel.
Bill: And what are some of the special foods that you had at that time, at Russian Christmas? Dallia: Special food? We had all kinds of food: meat, berries, fish, any kinds. Brined, brined fish. Was pretty good, interesting. Very good. Like you make brined fish out of, you put salt and you soak it in water a couple of times before you eat it. It was salty; you gotta soak it for a couple of times, rinse water. Bill: And you had to learn how to cook it. Dallia: Yeah, right. You have to learn how to. We have to learn how to make that's what we call salt fish, brined fish. They don't spoil in the salt. They keep all summer. When you gonna ready cook it, you gotta soak it for a couple of days, rinse water, keep on til it's no more hardly salt on it. Then you cook it.
Bill: Mike, do you remember when you were a teenager, special holiday times? Mike: Well, I remember, when we were first holiday I could remember we have a Christmas, listen to all that Christmas. We travel by dog team. I stay in the sled. I was too little. With my mom. Cause my brother older. He's driving the sled. We have like three, four families travelling together. They go house to house sing. Everywhere we come to, they donate the food and stay awhile. Any kind of wild beaver, porcupine, fish, red salmon, smoked fish, white fish, moose, caribou, what you can get wild, they put on table. So you would, all the people, you could eat from that food. There they do it every house you come to they serve all the people. And before holidays come, they used to gather food, save it for this coming holiday, put 'em away without getting spoiled. Even fish, meat, cut 'em up, keep it cold long time. They never have no freezers I could remember. But they always keep it some place outside to keep it cold, without getting spoiled the meat. And fish. Or their really good smoked fish, put in there. People come, on holidays they put on table.
Mike: Beside berries. Cranberries, salmon berries, blue berries, black berries, high bush berries, raspberries. They mix 'em up with Crisco, lard, and little bit sugar. They beat them up. Lot of times they put a little bit fish in it, boiled fish, white fish. You clean the bones out, put 'em in, beat 'em up and put 'em in a big bowl. Boy, that's nice. And we call it Native ice cream, berries all mixed together with the Crisco. Boy that's good. Right today we still do that. I like to pick berries, so I help. Me and Dallia, we travel for berries, put it away. Not a long time ago. We still do it right today. We still get them while there's for holidays we do same thing. What we are teached when we are young, we still do it right today.
Bill: So you remember travelling with your brothers in holiday time. And were you going to different families that were camped out, or were you going to different communities? Mike: No, this, what I'm talking about, this story here, we are Alagnak River, that time people lived like five, six miles away. And you gotta stop, sing our Christmas, Russian Christmas song and when they finish they give us food. And when they done, they go to next house, another seven, eight miles. And sometimes by the time we come home, it get dark like out here, they come where we start, go back home same day. That time used to have like four or five families in Alagnak. There was hardly people down there. I could remember. But everybody had separate houses, five, six miles apart. Next neighbor you have to go eight miles before you go to next house.
Bill: Who were some of those families that lived down there? Mike: Well there was some more family like my mom, my sister and all that, brother, and the grandpas. They're all separated now, different houses. That's the way I could remember when we lived Alagnak. They had places so far apart, seven eight miles away before you come to next house. But we used to have, we just like this long ago. Everybody separate. Why do they do that? I could remember. Folks told me they separate, one family stay one house so they could go hunt wild. And another family they go other place to hunt, too. Instead of one place they all know where to get the wild, like a moose and caribou, porkypine, beaver. They all knew where to get it. So all them families they travel.
Then later on, when I grow, I'm older, we start travelling together, the family. We hunt together when we hunt moose. Long time ago we used to have moose season in December, one month. And moose season's gonna open like four, five times get together with dog team. And all the food we take our stuff, camping, sleeping bags, tent. All in a sled, and we go out together. And we hunt together. We stay in camp together. Long time ago, we had the white tent, you know, like 8 by 10, but no stove. You gotta have fire outside. Campfire. The only place we had to keep warm, cook our coffee out there. Bill: No stove, huh? Mike: No stove. We make bonfire out doors, cause where we go hunt there's a lot of wood, lot of dry wood. So keep that fire going. That keep us warm. And you put big woods in there, it'd burn all night. In the morning you put a little wood to make coffee, cook. And after we eat breakfast, something, you go out all day. Sometime we'd come back with nothing, we'd go out next day and then we get our moose or something, we get together, haul that meat, cut em up, butcher it. Then when we go home, we all go home together. When somebody need help, if you got broken sled, we help them out. Take his load, put it to ours, or fix his sled out of trees tie him up, anything. But we used to do that when I was growing up. When I got older, all my cousins, my uncles, and my brother, we travel together, we hunt together and we camp together. We all go out and we all come back in the camp together. And when everybody got wild, our moose, we all go home together. It was nice, work out really nice.
Bill: Did families like that have certain areas that people said were theirs, or did people go anywhere they wanted? Mike: Well, when we hunt, like we have a friend, like uncle, or cousin, you got two people go one area. Another two people go another area. And when we chase something, come to moose or caribou, we chase him to next guy, chase him over to him. And when he get close enough, this guy, if he spot that animal or moose coming, then he will fire. Then this guy chasing it wouldn't fire. Cause it's somebody's up there and we chase him to him. That's the way we used to hunt a long time ago, like that. We'd chase him to other guy instead of shooting from behind. We don't do that. Cause we know who's out there. We kinda notation to and we share with when we cut it, we share. Everybody cut little meat, and they're real nice.
Bill: Can you tell us some more about that? Mike: Well we do that. Everybody cut meat to take home for their family, cause our families are home. But us, we are hunting. We always share with what we cut. Everybody try to come home with everybody happy. Nobody left out. We all's together. That's the way we used to travel long time when we used to have a dog team. When I get old I used to have my own team and we hunt together. And last time I could remember, we had eleven dog team and eleven people. We travel together. And all that camping in a sle--tent, lunch. And we set our camp and we all stay there. And we tie our dogs outside the camp. All that eleven dog team. We must have a good sixty, seventy dogs outside of camp. And then we leave our dogs and we walk, hunt, walk, leave our dogs in the camp. And when we cut moose or caribou, then we use our dogs, hook em up, go haul that meat back to the camp. Everybody have a load, share. Divide everything what we got. Oh, that's work nice.
Mike: And that time, when we travel, like when we hunt moose, we used to go a long ways to get there like when we hunt moose. From our home, we go, cause we used to have our cabin made out of logs. Logs, out of spruce, them trees. We used to make cabin. And we put a stove. But it got, the cabin we make, we make it by the river. Because when we all got together and made that cabin, from that cabin when we hunt moose we go from there, we go, use our tent, leave the cabin. But when we come home we stay there, going home. We used to make out of logs, we make a big cabin. And we have to pack it, pack it by sleigh. Timber, pack it, I could remember we used to pack lots when we made cabin that time. Boy it's nice to have a cabin. That kind that, not made of lumber--log cabin, we used to make cabin. Trapping cabin, we call it. And hunting when you're weather-bound, rainy, cold, we put a stove like a drum stove, we make it. And put lots of wood. Before we hunt, like in the fall time, we all got together, pile some wood before the hunting season come. Because when we hunt, we don't want to work, we just want to go hunting instead of getting wood or anything. All the families they get together and find wood, what we got coming for the season. It work out nice.
Bill: Where did you make those cabins. Mike: Well we make cabin right by the river. Bill: Alagnak River? Mike: Yeah, Alagnak river, that's where we got, when we go. Like from home, we have a home, winter home, to that cabin, we've gotta go, it's about five hours to first cabin. From the cabin on the river bank, where we go hunt, like in , we have to go another five hours, go make a camp. So we could start to go hunting. And if you travel like one day from early in the morning, you travel with a load, if it's nice weather you want to make it home. You run eleven hours on the sled. Steady travelling 'til you get home. But if your weather's getting to be bad, you try to make it home on that day, you go early in the morning til night, then we'd be home.
Bill: And what about trapping? Mike: Well trapping we used the trapping cabin too, same time. We'd go trapping, walk along the bank, then we trap mink, otter, fox, we walk along. We don't use the boat, most of the time. We used to walk so far, you gotta come back, and you gotta go the other way so far, you come back. Long time ago I could remember we never used to have one line trappers. We have two, three distant line you gotta go. You go one day, one line trap line, next day you go this way, next time you go other way. Not on one area. You gotta move to keep it going, sometime. You don't get much, sometime you bring home couple of wild skin, you know, otter, fox. That make us happy.
Bill: Did people have their own trap lines, or did they move in and out on other people's areas? Mike: Well my, I could remember when we used to trap. Everybody go their way. Not one time, they all start out, but they make, however you want to set that trap, that's their way, you know. If I want to set my set, I do it my way. Everybody do their way, you know. That's the way, most of the time we used to trap like that. Sometime we travel together, trapping. We might get three, four people together go one year and we go other way. Bill: But next year, the following year, that wouldn't be your special area, necessarily, huh? Mike: Well, it depends on if it's good where we trap like otter, fox, we come back same area. We trap same area. Then we think it's not too good then we move some place, try there, then we used to, you have to keep moving when you are trapping. You can't trap one year, year after year. You have to move around. Just like commercialing I guess, you can't stay one place, you got to move around. Bill: Shall we quit for the night? Dallia: Yeah. Mike: Well, it's nine o'clock. Bill: We've still got lots, but we'll pick up tomorrow.