Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Project Jukebox Survey

Help us redesign the Project Jukebox website by taking a very short survey!

Anne and George Wilson, Sr., Part 3
Anne Wilson, George Wilson

This is the continuation of an interview with Anne and George Wilson, Sr. on March 7, 1995 by Bill Schneider and Don Callaway at the Wilson's home in Igiugig, Alaska. In this third part of a three part interview, Anne and George talk about the impacts to their lifestyle from having a national park and preserve as their neighbor. They discuss differences between attitudes and hunting practices of local users and sportsmen, the effect of regulation, and changes they have seen in the environment since they were young. They also discuss the effect of using All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV's), and the importance of traditional beliefs, practices and respect for elders.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 95-23-03

Project: Katmai National Park
Date of Interview: Mar 7, 1995
Narrator(s): Anne Wilson, George Wilson, Sr.
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Don Callaway
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.


Sharing food

Sharing food (continued)

The Park boundary and Preserve boundary

Differences between hunting by residents and by sportsmen

Moose tracking


Anne's fish camp

Yearly food needs

Hunting moose

Attitudes towards elders

Environmental changes since George and Anne were young

Traveling on ATV's

Impact of sport hunting on respect for the environment

The dart game

Native languages

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


Bill: Okay, we're back on. Don: Um, I was wondering, do you take, do you send seal that you catch out here in Illiamna down to Levelock, do you send that to your children also? Do they like the taste of seal? Anne: Yes they do, and so does Georgie's daughters in Naknek. And we send to our friends in Newhalen and Kokhanok, also. And just before these church holidays I was talking about, when there was somebody like Charlie Andrews going up to Kokhanok and if he had room, you know, "Could you take this box of fish to so and so?" And then that's how they get it. Or if there's an airplane that's, air taxi come down, you know, we send white fish and stuff, to our Russian Orthodox father in Newhalen, and that way, you know, he can get his own, his own fish for his church holidays and just family use. Don: Do you take beluga, still? George: Uh huh, yeah. Don: Do you take beluga here? George: Go down to the bay down there, when we move down, that's when we could. Don: But they don't come up this far? George: They'll come up once in a while. Not very often, they'll come up. Some get strayed and they'll come up the Kvichak. They've seen em come out of the lake before, or going in. But just one or two. Last fall I seen one on the flats down there about 10, 12 miles down from here. He was headed back down again.

Don: With the sharing, have you noticed that there's been a drop-off since you were a child to when you were an adult to when your children, or has it pretty much stayed the same in terms of respect and amount and so forth. Anne: It's been staying about the same, cause they, they share whatever they have in their village when they come down here. Then they'll give us whatever that we don't get down here. Like the fathers, they go all the way up to Russian Mission or wherever they come from, then they'll bring their own Native food from up there. And then they'll give you a bag of smoked fish or muktuk, or whatever. Then we'll give them whatever that we catch. Then they can have it. So it's been, everybody's been sharing with everybody around the whole Illiamna Lake and all the way down to Naknek and over at the Nushagak. Don: Do you notice that there's a difference between the families that have been here for a long time and those that are newcomers in the amount of sharing that they do? Anne: I noticed the, the, the newer ones that's been coming around, they tend to stay within their own families. Like, instead of like the rest of us Natives, you know, we share with even like you guys when you come in, you know. If you want piece of meat or smoked fish or, but the new families that are coming around, they tend to just keep it themselves. I guess since they're new yet, they don't know really how, don't know how to really share. Don: But does a family, the longer a family lives in the community, the more likely it is to become part of that sharing network? Anne: Yeah, uh huh. George: Yeah. Then they'll associate with the people more and then travel and hunt and fish with the lake, after they get to know the village, and we get to know them better. And come to more of a sharing and travelling together.

Bill: I was wondering about the Park boundary. How have you been affected by the Park boundary and Preserve boundary? George: Well the Park boundary, that's affected my, you can't trap inside of it. Before, when I first started trapping over there in like, right next to the boundaries, there, and had trapline right along the boundary line and worked along there. But in the past, oh, four, five years, even, they want us not even to trap in the preserve, you know, or hunt. And it's getting, you know, tighter and tighter that we, pretty soon maybe we wouldn't be able to even trap and hunt in the reserve. That's what they're to do to, keep us out of our, well they extended it into our trapping area and our hunting area. And I don't see why we can't keep hunting and trapping in, we've been doing it, you know, for years and years. And now they're trying to stop us from using four-wheelers and three-wheelers in our trapline in the same year we been using 'em, the rigs. It has, you know, they're trying to change the laws on, on their preserve now. We never could hunt inside the park service, you know, area. Long time ago we used to go in, you know, before there ever was a park, like the, our ancestors lived up in there and hunted and put up fish up in the where it was park, before, you know. There was a big village up inside the park area up there, Savonoski, that's up inside the Naknek Lakes there, way up in Brooks Camp and around there. When I was a young boy I went up in there and put up fish for the fall. Red fish, you know? Spawned out fish, bring 'em home. I'd dry 'em. And I guess now they're even stopping the people that used to do it. What I've seen in the past, you know, that changes.

Bill: When were you up there, was that the early sixties? George: I first went up there in '53, I think, '52, '53, and got fish from up in there. In the Naknek lake area. It's probably been a change in all, I don't know when it's going to change, but they're trying to change the laws now. From a preserve to like, ah, pretty soon we can't even go in and trap. And only way we go in there is sport fish. And hunt here. Hunting and sportsmen are two different categories. Hunting is what we do for a living and put up our food. But sportsmen, they come in and look for a trophy and they don't, you know, about probably 70% of the meat is still laying there when they leave. Sportsmen and the resident here are two different categories. Our way of surviving for our fam--, putting up food for our families.

Don: What about other differences? You spent a life on the land and observed the animals. How do you, for example, track moose? George: Oh, you go into an area where the feeding is good, where you know there's what they eat, type of food they eat. And you start looking for sign that where a moose's been laying down and spending quite a few days at a certain area. And you know the moose are around there when you find moose beds and droppings and fresh, you know, the branches are broken on the willows. And you know the moose is not far from that area. So we make camp and start looking for the animal and wait 'til he comes out to the waterfront in the evening to drink water. An area where you can see pretty good, and that's the way I hunt. Don: And the sportshunters spot from planes and then is that one of the differences? George: Uh huh. They go to an area and then they'll, they'll know the moose is there because they see him from by the air and I guess they'll just wait 'til that moose comes out, then they'll, they get it, just like that. We, we go in and look for the signs of where the moose's been, you know, where they've been camping and where they eat, where they come to the creek to drink water, and places like that. Don: And did you, you said your son likes to be out on the land also. Did you take him out hunting with you a lot. George: Since he was a little boy. He was born and raised and every year he can't wait for me to take him out with me and get a moose or a caribou and now he's starting to do that himself. He's been always doin' that, though. All his life.

Don: How about trapping. Are there special things you need to know, to set traps for beaver, for example, or for lynx? George: Yeah. You gotta find their areas, like for lynx and wolverine, their routes they always take, you know, in travelling. And what to look for signs of, maybe a lot of rabbit or ptarmigan and stuff. And then there's good lynx country a lot of brush, timber. And beaver, you just go out and find a good stream that's got quite a few houses in a short area, you know. And then the more houses you get in a smaller area, the more sets you could put out and take care of. And beaver trapping, you know, takes quite a bit of work, you know. Cut a hole and you have to go look for the right tree for that beaver laughing to coax him over there to that snare. So, yeah, it's a little different than trapping lynx and wolverine, fox. Takes a little more work on it. And you gotta have quite a few houses to get your limit in. So it takes a lot of work chopping. Sometimes through three feet of ice, you know. And you make three, four sets in a house. So it takes you a good hour to take care of that one house, the sets on that house, just to cut the hole open and set your snare.

Don: Anne, does your daughter come back to the fish camp with you in the summer some times now, or has she got her own family? Anne: She fishes with her dad, but when the closed period down the bay, well she'll come up and help, you know, cleaning fish and packing fish, and so does Georgie. Naknek and Levelock are about 30 miles apart, I guess, so whenever they're not fishing, they'll come up and help take care of, you know, help me clean fish and hang fish, and wash the fish. And yeah, she still does come up. Bill: And so your daughter actually commercial fishes with him? Anne: Yeah. George: She's been fishing, and my son been fishing with me since he was five years old, in the boat. While he was in the boat, you know, down at the bay. And every year I take him down for awhile, you know, four or five days or so. And then I bring him back home. But then he started staying in the boat since he was eight, eight or nine years old. All summer. And he started fishing with his uncle, so I took Annette. And now she's fishing with me. After she got out of the coast guard. She fished with me before she went in, too. Then she's out of the coast guard. Now she's in the reserve, but she still, she fishes with me every summer now. Anne: And she try to get her coast guard duties done like month of May, so she'll have June and July free to go fishing with her dad. Don: How many fish do you need to put up in a summer, for your household needs. Anne: Last summer I put up little over nine hundred and twenty-eight reds. And that's to, that's for Georgie and I and our three kids. And my mother and my sister and her family. So it's divided up down there. Don: How about silvers and kings? Anne: No, last summer we had some king in Levelock. But I never, I never did ever put up silver. You had to go Branch River to get silver, to get that many to, you know, put in your smokehouse. Don: Do you do strips and the whole fish, or? Anne: Yes, yes we do both. And we salt some in the buckets for the winter, like for pickled fish. So we put that away too, like that.

Don: George, what, just approximately how many moose or caribou would you like to get or need to get for a year? What's an average? George: Well, one is plenty for just Anne and I and kids. Usually, I get a moose then I get caribou when I need caribou. That way we'll have enough for the, when we want change of moose to caribou, we got it, you know. But if I don't get a moose in the fall, I get two or three caribou to put in the freezer, then, you know, December, I get a moose. Anne: If he could find one. George: Uh huh. Don: Do you take some animals just to distribute to the other people in the community sometimes? George: Yeah, we give parts of it away to the village. And for her mother and Anne: My aunt. George: Aunt and Uncle. Always bring them down some, some kind of a fresh meat or fish. Bill: We haven't talked about bear at all. Does bear fit into your diet? George: Yeah. We like the bear oil. She, we use it when we eat this, ah, tamuanaq they call it, this dried... Anne: Nutelvai. George: Nutelvai, the spawned-out salmon, you know. We take em, dry 'em and put 'em in the freezer, and we eat that with the bear fat. It's really good. It's no, no salt, nothing on it. And take a chunk of bear fat and then the fish and a little oil and it's really good. Stays with you a long time when you eat that bear fat and fish. You never get hungry. Yeah, it's really good. Don: Do you think these Native foods are better for you in terms of protecting you against the cold and being healthier? George: They sure do. You stay warm when you eat Native foods all day. If you don't eat good, you're not gonna stay warm out there. Something that stays with you all day and gives off energy and you stay warm when you eat Native foods, because they, they last longer in your system than any other white man food that you prepare and eat. Native food, it lasts much longer in your system than ordinary white meals that you eat.

Don: Do you take moose during the rut, or does the meat taste bad for you? George: No, I wouldn't shoot a moose in the rut. I know what they are, like late in the fall, like in end of Sept, middle of September, end of September. I never, I never shoot a moose after the first week of September. About the 5th or the 10th is the latest I'll shoot one. And he's not going to be the real big one. I take the younger one so it, the younger ones, they're better eating than the big one that's in rut. They'll get really strong and you can't stand it. You can't eat 'em. No way. Dog wouldn't even eat it after you cook it for 'em. laughing

Don: In terms of respect for elders, have you noticed that there's been a change in the way young people talk to elders or, between the way you were brought up and the way they are now? Could you talk about that a bit? Anne: Yeah, I notice quite a few, quite a bit difference in their, I don't know if it's because of their schooling or what. But I know, it's like when you go from different village to another that the younger kids, you know like 13, 14 year olds, wouldn't show you respect whatsoever. You know, there's not that many elderly people in the villages. But even if they do see one, they'll say, "So what if he or she is old. I'm just gonna go about my own business." It's a lot different than when I was growing up. Even when you come into somebody's house, you knock and you stand by their door. You don't come in and you know, sit down and turn on TV or use their phone. You just wait 'til somebody say you could come in and sit down, have a cup of tea or a cup or coffee. It's, been a lot of change in that. Don: Do you notice the same changes, George? George: Yeah, I've seen the same changes, younger people, they don't show too much respect for their elders. Some of them, you know, they talk back to them. I've seen it in the past years, especially in the past five years. It's really bad, the younger.

Bill: How about environmental changes? How's the environment changed since your young, since you were young kids? George: Environment means? Bill: Uh, land, water, air. Anne: There's been a lot of pollution I know, that's like when you go berry picking up around the lake shore, you see garbage bags that hunters had left there, or whoever had left there. And there's been a lot of it, quite a few been doing that. Even the, across at that lagoon over there, from the lodges across here. There's a lot of ground that's beat up from Hondas going back and forth, just really fast. See, when we go berry picking, we just go on one path. Everybody goes on one path and you get off and then you walk and pick your berries, instead of just going off with your Honda just any old place. So that way the berries will grow again the following years. But across the rivers they don't do that anymore. There's been a lot of tundra that's been torn up, on, due to four-wheelers, across them lagoon, or the lodges over here. Bill: Well that's an issue, this all-terrain vehicle issue, in parklands. Anne: Uh huh. Don: It's important to know that some of it's being done by the lodges. George: These lodges that they got all kinds of people coming in, and some just want to just go out for a ride. And they just do it any old time of the year. They don't respect the land the way a Native really does, you know, when he's out using that land.

Bill: How do, uh, when you're travelling you mention the berry-picking, going on one trail. Are there other things that we should know about how you travel with four-wheelers when you're out on the land? Anne: Well, you know, to me, if you go, if somebody's leading the pack on three or four people, you just follow whoever is ahead of you. And when he or she gets off then we could all get off and look around for berries. So that way the tundra doesn't get all torn up for the following year. And there are times, you know, we go out there and gather roots, you know, in the spring time. And like, around the lake shore, and out in these ponds, to eat. I haven't, I haven't seen that in quite a few years now. Bill: Seen? Anne: Anybody go out to get roots to eat in the spring time, or in the fall time. It's, you don't know what you're gonna find, you know, in your back road. I went out berry picking up on the lake shore, three miles up. You could hear hunters on the lakes back here, sport hunters.

Don: Do they leave behind a lot of material and things like that? George: Yeah, there's some places, there's some don't respect how to use the land, you know, come in and the garbage is left there. I've found quite a few spots like that where hunters come in, you know, and camp. And they never take the garbage out or bury it. And they're really messy, quite a few spots out where there's beautiful places and then, you know, it looks ugly and they leave the place. Don: Is it hard to teach the teenage children respect for the land? Did, I understand when you were younger, you'd spend a lot of time with your parents and you would observe their behavior. But is it different and more difficult these days to do these things? George: Yeah, it is that children, your children, if you love them and they respect you and they want to go with you when you travel, you got to take them. Nowadays, some of them they don't want to even take their kids out to do, you know, teach em how to hunt and trap. And really take care of the land. they just, they just drift apart and there's hardly, you know, respect. And their children, if they're not gonna be travelling with you and you don't show 'em stuff, that's what I seen, you know, in a lot of families, that they don't share with their families and their children the lifestyle that they've been going through, and losing it. The closeness to your family, you know, and how to share with the elders. Don: I get a sense that Igiugig continues those traditions, though, that people tend to be pretty close, that it isn't happening as much here. Would that be your observation, too? Anne: Yes, Uh huh. George: Yes, that's, Levelock, same way. And some of it, you know, some of them, they share and other ones they don't. That, it's changing, you know. Changing a lot.

Don: I have one more quick question. Is the dart game here? George: Uh huh. Aavcaaq. That's an old Native, from years and years. And the other one's akaucuaq. You gotta flip that little thing up and put it in that hole there. Don: Ah! Is the dart game, do you hang it on a long string and then you try to hit it with the ... Anne: With that little ... George: With the dart. Don: They do that on Kodiak, too. George: Yeah, you're supposed to swing it. Don: Yeah. all laughing George: And then you try to get it. When I was young, I watched the older people do that all the time.

Don: How about Native language? Is it, are the children learning the Native language? I know you're fluent, Anne. But is it tough to teach the kids? Anne: Not if they really want to learn, it's not tough to learn. There are some kids that will say, "I don't have to learn it because my mom and dad say I don't have to." But, you know, I used to teach bilingual, and there were some kids that were really fluent in their Native pronunciation. If you never had the definition on one side, they could say the word and they still don't know what it means, because they weren't taught the definition of the word. I've seen that quite a bit.