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Melody Webb
Melody Webb

Melody Webb was interviewed on October 7, 1991 by Dan O'Neill and William Schneider in Vail, Colorado where she was attending the 75th anniversary meeting of the National Park Service. Schneider worked with Melody in the early 1970s in Fairbanks, Alaska on the National Park Service's Native Historic and Cemetery Sites studies, but at the time of this interview, she was Superintendent of Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park in Texas. In this interview, Melody talks about historical research she did for the National Park Service in Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve and Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park. She speaks of personal experiences doing the Yukon-Charley Rivers study with Dave Evans, and the historical themes she helped develop that are now the basis for current preservation activities in Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. She also discusses the concepts of preserving history and cultural values and the role of the National Park Service in doing this, and her views on the "river people" and subsistence.

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1) Personal background and education

2) Her career change, her first experiences in Alaska, and her publications related to Alaska

3) Time she spent "Outside" working on her doctorate and doing a variety of jobs

4) The historic resource study she did for Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, and her travels with Dave Evans as her guide

5) How she learned about historic sites and themes from old timers in the area

6) The concept of "living history," and how it relates to historic sites and human use of the park and preserve areas

7) Historical and cultural values as primary significance for Yukon-Charley as a preserve, for which the wildlife and geographic values provide a backdrop

8) Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) and the preservation of cultural values that it promises

9) The role of the National Park Service as a manager of "living" cultural values, as opposed to its role as a manager of scenery or natural values

10) The Wrangell-Saint Elias study, especially of Kennecott

11) Her evolving views of the lifestyles of the "river people"

12) The National Park Service's relationship to modern non-Native subsistence users, and how policy was shaped on Native subsistence studies from the Arctic and northwest Alaska

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Section 1: Webb, Melody\ Apache County - Arizona\ Udall, Stuart\ teaching - goals|

Section 2: Webb, Melody\ American West - history\ National Park Service - historic preservation\ Utley, Bob\ Kenai Peninsula - attitudes\ Fairbanks - attitudes\ Schneider, Bill\ Native historic sites - ANILCA\ 14H-1\ ANILCA\ proposed parks - studies\ Yukon-Charley - historic sites\ "Yukon Frontiers: The Westward Movement to the North Country" - dissertation\ Kennicott - Melody Webb\ Wrangell-Saint Elias\ Seward Peninsula - whaling\ Wrangell Island|

Section 3: Regional Historian - National Park Service Southwest Region\ Superintendent - Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park\ National Park Service - Southwest Region\ Webb, Melody\ Cook, John\ University of New Mexico\ The Last Frontier: A History of the Yukon Basin of Alaska and Canada|

Section 4: Webb, Melody\ National Park Service - historic resource studies\ Brown, Bill\ Yukon-Charley - historic resource study\ historic resource studies - fieldwork\ Waller, Sarge\ Evans, Dave\ National Park Service - attitudes towards\ subsistence lifestyle\ Bureau of Land Management - trespass policy\ bush living - values\ Eagle - attitudes\ river people - foods\ hunting - subsistence\ summer travel - canoe\ Yukon-Charley - historic sites\ Wickersham, James\ historic sites - mining\ historic sites - cabins\ field trip - story|

Section 5: oral tradition - historic sites\ old timers - oral history\ Layman, Jim\ Vogler, Joe - story\ Beck, George\ Biederman, Charlie\ Yukon-Charley - historic resource study|

Section 6: Yukon-Charley - Native use\ Yukon-Charley - historical use\ subsistence users - non-Native\ trapping - Yukon-Charley\ cabins - "Phonograph Nelson"\ cabins - Coal Creek\ cabins - Native\ Brown, Randy\ Edwards, Charlie\ Potts, Mike\ traditional knowledge - subsistence\ Yukon-Charley - fur trade\ historical activity - continuum\ mining - historical continuity\ steamboats - wood requirements\ wild fires - historical\ subsistence lifestyle - challenges\ subsistence lifestyle - economy\ Yukon-Charley - significance|

Section 7: Yukon-Charley - significance\ Shore, Evelyn - Born on Snowshoes\ trapping - lifestyle\ mining - lifestyle\ subsistence lifestyle\ lifestyles - remote\ cabins - "Phonograph Nelson"\ National Park Service - concept of history\ concept of history - inconsistency\ Big Bend National Park\ Ozark Scenic Riverways\ Evans, Dave|

Section 8: ANILCA - Title 8\ permits - limited\ trespass - federal lands\ Evans, Dave\ Brown, Randy\ Potts, Mike\ Edwards, Charlie\ trapping - economics\ subsistence - economy\ mining - lifestyle\ "escapist" - motivation\ subsistence lifestyle - challenges\ "frontier mythos"\ 1970's attitudes\ Belous, Bob\ cabins - permits\ subsistence - non-Native\ river people - significance|

Section 9: National Park Service - cultural preservation\ National Park Service - subsistence\ cultural values - changing\ subsistence - Native\ subsistence - level of technology|

Section 10: Wrangell-Saint Elias - historic values\ Kennicott\ Kennicott Copper\ Bear Creek Mining - Spokane\ McCarthy - comparison to Eagle\ McCarthy - attitudes toward NPS\ Brown, Bill\ Utley, Bob\ Wheaton, Rod\ Historic American Buildings Survey\ historic preservation - difficulties\ Wade, Karen\ Kennicott - historic site\ preservation - private\ Kennicott preservation - NPS planning|

Section 11: Bradley, Zorro - subsistence\ Webb, Melody\ Belous, Bob\ Cook, John\ Brown, Bill\ National Park Service - history in Alaska river people - attitudes towards\ river people - relationship with NPS\ Webb, Melody\ river people - drugs\ subsistence lifestyle - significance\ National Park Service - concept of history\ subsistence - non-Native\ "romanticism"\ Caulfield, Rick|

Section 12: Caulfield, Rick\ Native people - subsistence\ Lake Minchumina-Denali extension\ Belous, Bob\ ANILCA\ Henson, Al\ Swem, Ted\ Albright, Stan\ Rutter, John\ National Park Service - organizational conflict|