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Nancy Yaw Davis

Nancy Yaw Davis was interviewed on April 16, 1999 by Karen Brewster at Nancy's office in Anchorage, Alaska. In this interview, Nancy remembers her childhood memories of growing up in Sitka, her activities in Sitka National Historical Park, the old blockhouse that used to be in the Park, and her experiences with tourists. Nancy explains how dear to her heart Sitka and the Park still are, and comments on how oral history enhances one's own identity and sense of having led a valuable life because someone is interested in hearing about it. For Nancy, this interview provoked childhood flashbacks and a reflection on the meaning of place that she felt would not have happened otherwise.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 98-39-11

Project: Sitka National Historical Park
Date of Interview: Apr 16, 1999
Narrator(s): Nancy Yaw Davis
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
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.


1) Introduction and personal background

2) Her earliest memories of growing up in Sitka and playing in Sitka National Historical Park

3) Using the Park as a child, especially her memories of school picnics

4) The story of the Kooshdaakaa Tree

5) Her early interactions with tourists in Sitka

6) Her interactions with tourists in Sitka continued

7) Native and non-Native relations when growing up in Sitka, and playing on the "big rock" as a child

8) Her lack of awareness of Tlingit culture while growing up in Sitka, and playing on the blockhouse in the Park

9) Playing as a child, and the six-sided blockhouse in the Park

10) Her childhood reaction to guests her father brought home, and the variation in her feelings toward Sitka between childhood and now

11) Lover's Lane and totem poles in the Park

12) Changes in her relationship to the Park over the course of her life

13) Her appreciation of the Park, and how thinking about it broadened her understanding of oral history

14) What the Park means to her, and different ways people use it

15) The Park's role in the community, how talking about something inspires lost memories, and how her view of Sitka has changed through time

16) Her children's relationship to Sitka, the importance of the Park, and the way memory works

17) Memories of the Park and what is important to pass on to others about it

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.


Section 1: business -- Cultural Dynamics/ Glacier Bay/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- mother/ missionary/ Sitka/ education/ Sheldon Jackson School/ Episcopal Church/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- father/ Yaw, W. Leslie|

Section 2: family history/ Sitka/ growing up/ big rock/ Sitka National Historical Park/ tree -- hemlock/ tree -- climbing/ tourists|

Section 3: school -- picnics/ beach/ Halibut Point/ Goddard Hot Springs/ teachers/ sea lion -- dead/ Sitka National Historical Park -- memories of/ totem poles/ bench/ pioneer -- death|

Section 4: pioneer -- death/ storytelling/ Kooshdaakaa Tree/ tree -- hollowed/ blockhouse/ river/ behavior -- good/ stories -- lessons from/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- father/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- brother/ courage|

Section 5: storytelling/ Donnelly, Bunny (Harold)/ Kooshdaakaa Tree/ Park -- hiding in/ tourists/ Sitka Sentinel/ money -- value/ Sheldon Jackson Museum/ skulls/ entrepreneur/ tourists -- charging/ blockhouse/ totem poles -- explanation of/ potlatches/ culture -- Tlingit / culture -- Russian/ Sitka -- growing up in|

Section 6: totem poles/ tourists/ hiding places/ St. Peter's Episcopal Church/ Dog Creek/ Sheldon Jackson Museum/ Park/ anthropology/ Tlingit/ Shriners/ Mt. Edgecumbe School/ relations -- cross-cultural/ Sitka High School/ Sheldon Jackson High School|

Section 7: Indian/ racism/ Anderson, Neil/ Sitka/ community -- dynamics/ brother -- death of/ childhood -- independence in/ Sitka National Historical Park/ Donnelly, Bunny/ "big rock"/ tide/ tourists|

Section 8: Tlingit culture -- not aware of/ University of Chicago/ anthropology/ Field Museum / Tlingit -- lifestyle/ Kooshdaakaa -- story/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- father/ Indian/ hunting -- learning/ blockhouse -- playing on/ name -- carving|

Section 9: childhood/ freedom/ childhood -- playing/ tidepools/ fish -- bull heads/ blockhouse/ National Geographic/ Burg, Amos/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- brother Chuck/ Burg, Amos -- dog King/ boat -- sailboat/ Endeavor/ sailing/ blockhouse -- impact from/ house -- log/ house -- six-sided/ Anchorage/ "Redoubt"/ Robertson, Ernie -- painting|

Section 10: Berg, Amos/ Reinhart, Elsie/ Juneau/ National Geographic/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- father/ houseguests/ boat -- sailboat/ Sitka -- eager to leave/ childhood -- curiosity/ Book of Knowledge/ Sitka -- attachment to/ Sitka -- visiting/ Sitka National Historical Park/ forest -- beauty of/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- Aunt Helen/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- mother/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- daughter Caroline|

Section 11: Lover's Lane/ fiancee/ Presbyterian Church/ marriage/ Lover's Lane -- location of/ totem poles/ totem pole -- evil/ tourists/ Kooshdaakaa Tree|

Section 12: Park -- playing in/ WWII -- impact of/ cannery/ National Park Service/ Park -- visiting/ Park -- significance of/ isolation/ games -- hide and seek/ Park -- walking in/ identity/ birds -- seagull/ Sitka/ growing up/ birds -- watching|

Section 13: Sitka National Historical Park -- role of/ oral history -- importance of/ identity/ life -- value of/ memory -- inspiration of/ Indian River/ Mt. Vestovius/ childhood -- running away/ tourists/ Sitka -- leaving/ Seattle|

Section 14: Sitka National Historical Park -- appreciation of/ Park -- uses of/ walking / solitude/ Park -- sharing of/tourists/ Sitka|

Section 15: Sitka/ Park -- walking in/ Park -- seeing people/ Park -- enhancing community/ Dodo -- murder of/ Dog Creek/ Sitka -- appreciation of/ Presbyterian Church -- constraints/ behavior -- proper/ Chicago/ rebellion -- personal|

Section 16: Davis, Nancy Yaw -- children/ Fine Arts Camp/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- son Scott/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- son Roblin/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- daughter Caroline/ Park -- importance of/ Robertson, Ernie -- paintings/ Sitka -- ambiance/ Sitka -- self-consciousness/ Park -- distortion of significance/ Park -- walking in/ Davis, Nancy Yaw -- husband Bill/ Park -- explaining features to children/ memories|

Section 17: Park -- appreciation of/ Park -- friendly place/ saying hello/ National Park Service/ Sitka -- returning to/ family property/ Sitka -- retirement in/ St. Peter's by the Sea/ friends -- high school/ Sitka -- connection to|