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Lindberg and Lydia Bergman, Part 1

I interviewed Lindberg and Lydia Bergman in their home in Allakaket, Alaska during the afternoon of November 23, l992. We sat around the living room area to make the tape. Since this was the first time Lindberg had ever been interviewed on tape, he was a little worried at first but soon became comfortable with the process. Lydia had a cold and a bad cough, but we still managed to make an excellent recording.

Lydia began by talking about her parents, some of her experiences growing up, and her brothers and sisters and other close family members. In this section of the tape, Lydia talks about the seasonal round and a variety of subsistence activities including various trapping and snaring techniques. In talking about close family members, she remembers her grandfather, South Fork Henry, and how he would babysit in camp and tell some of the many stories he knew. Some of these stories taught people how to behave with respect toward such powerful entities as bears and thunder. Others who are still important to her today are her Aunt Elizabeth Bergman, her Uncle Edward Bergman, her grandparents, Old Linus and Kathleen Linus, and her Uncle Joe Williams with whom she was quite close. She recalled how Uncle Joe, who was a good singer and speechmaker, worked hard to teach younger people how to live properly. She also remembers her best buddy from younger days, Jeanie Stevens, and another good friend Kitty David. She remembers, too, that in l945 her mother was not well so she stayed in town and went to school part of the time. She also played all sorts of ball games--softball, volleyball, football--and loved it, but when she got married, she had to stop playing games and be a like a grown up woman.

Lydia spent some time talking about how she first began to work for wages in l971 when she started babysitting for one of the school teachers. The next year she became an assistant cook at the school, and since l979 she has been the janitor for the Clinic and the City Hall. She also sews and sells the items she makes for income. I also asked Lydia about her interest in dog mushing. In l969 Lindberg bought a snowgo, and Lydia took over the dog team, feeding and running them. She started racing about 16 years ago and her living room attests to the trophies she has won. She is most proud of the trophy she won for winning the Allakaket Carnival race for three years.

Toward the end of the tape, we talked about Lydia's involvement with the Episcopal Church. Lydia recalls that she wanted to be a preacher since way back; now teaching her grandkids about the Lord is very important to her. A major aspect of her church activity is her opposition to drinking. Lydia recognizes that she herself is not perfect. She, too, drank, sometimes quite heavily, between l964 and l975. But she quit, and she sees how much quitting has changed her life. She sees, too, how much drinking hurts the community, and she wants to help others. In l99l, Allakaket built a new church building. This is at least the third log church building on or near the same site since Hudson Stuck had the original church built for St. John's-in-the-Wilderness Mission in l907-08. She describes how the community raised funds through a raffle and other fund-raising efforts, and volunteers from the community cut the logs and built the building.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 93-15-03

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Nov 23, 1992
Narrator(s): Lindberg Bergman, Lydia Bergman
Interviewer(s): Wendy Arundale
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

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


1) Lindberg's background and growing up

2) Boat building

3) Lindberg talks about his mother and her family

4) Lindberg talks about learning subsistence skills

5) Family relations

6) Special friends

7) Getting together as a couple

8) Memories of first year of marriage

9) Changes witnessed since the early years

10) Lydia's background and growing up

11) About family relations

12) Lindberg working for wages

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: born -- January 28, 1929\ father\ Bergman, Billy\ mother\ Moses, Ceza\ father -- nice guy, good hunter\ school -- second grade off and on\ trapping\ snaring\ fish traps\ canoe\ hunting -- ducks, muskrat\ camp -- first time; three days, make fire, leave wood for the next person\ values -- respect; leave others belongings\ today -- people will take tools, gas, etc.\ caribou hunting -- don't make noise; learn by hunting rabbits\ father -- Huslia\ sleigh -- built first one at fourteen|

Section 2: boat -- have to build right -- otherwise leaks\ snow shoes -- have trouble making\ boat -- first built at twenty; copy others\ Steven -- built one\ lumber -- whipsawed\ whip saw -- need to build platform; two people\ boat -- one week, twenty four feet\ logs -- finding right ones\ Williams, Joe Uncle -- big help\ logs -- straight grain, no limbs\ spruce\ motor -- first; nine horse Johnson\ Sam, Frank -- sold for $25; friend, brother\ boats -- first one not right shape; made some for sale|

Section 3: Ceza -- mother; live long time, ninety-five\ father -- ninety\ mother -- went trapping with\ snaring -- description; procedure\ animals -- rabbit, lynx, beaver, fox\ Chief Moses -- Ceza's father\ Laura -- Ceza's mother\ Chief Moses -- many stories about, good trapper, fishing\ Koyukuk River -- camp on north side\ potlatch -- given by Chief Moses\ dogs -- he used two, while Ceza worked ahead\ fish camp -- mouth of Kanuti River\ Hudokkaakk'at -- mouth of Old Man Creek\ Tsaalaatna -- Spring Camp|

Section 4: hunting -- first time at twelve or earlier; .22 rifle\ skills -- handling ax, using gun, making camp\ driving dogs\ caribou hunting\ dogs -- learned how to use; reliable; first time, tipped\ pneumonia -- caused by fall; seven years old\ Hill, Miss -- nurse\ pneumonia -- medicine, took all spring to recover|

Section 5: siblings -- Christopher, Steven, Louisa, Jessie, Edward, Abraham, Johnson, Isabel, Celia\ Abraham -- adopted out\ Oldman, Johnny\ Hughes\ Johnson -- adopted out\ Moses, Henry\ Edward -- oldest; traveled with him\ learning -- from everybody\ brother -- got sick\ trip\ Tanana Hospital -- 1946\ Edward, Jimmy\ supplies -- went to Hughes by dog team\ travel -- seventy-five miles; three days, take turns leading\ snow shoes\ Big Lake\ Old Man Abraham -- Hughes; gave me rifle, brand new 2520\ Oldman, Johnny -- uncle, teach me a lot\ water -- almost drown, he pull out, teach me\ drinking -- Johnny Oldman told me all I'll get is trouble\ William, Uncle Joe -- he talked too; everything he said was true; made some mad\ grandchildren -- today they get mad, talk back|

Section 6: Linus, Lawrence -- he was my best friend\ Moses, Tony\ William, Arthur\ Koyukuk, William\ Henzie, Moses -- get along nice; trap together, good cook\ tobacco -- stole from dad\ father -- gave tobacco, said don't steal|

Section 7: brother -- Edward suggested Lydia\ couple -- April 1947\ marriage -- Allakaket\ Bentley, Bishop\ children -- first one in 1948\ Warner -- 1950\ children -- had eleven, lost four\ Bible -- always somebody watching over|

Section 8: snaring\ fish net\ driving dogs\ trapping -- Lydia went before she had kids\ tanning -- moose\ mother -- learned from\ education -- by watching, experience\ tanning -- caribou, moose\ fish camp\ Twelve Mile\ fish net -- different ways of setting nets\ fish -- not many those days\ trapping\ Big Lake|

Section 9: change -- first noticed when about seven or eight; 1957\ drinking\ suicide\ school -- 1958; Allakaket\ Barber, Matilda\ Koyukuk, Rita\ Nictune (Fleagle), Betty\ Mount Edgecumbe\ education -- territorial school replaced mission school, 1952\ Yukon-Koyukuk\ school -- two room, frame\ Schloesser, Agnes -- first territorial teacher\ Smith -- next teacher\ school -- new one built, 1980; four classrooms gym\ spring camp -- always went when growing up\ Kanuti -- 1955, last time over\ Old Man Creek\ Kanuti River\ Billy Bergman's Spring Camp\ children -- new generation doesn't know about spring camp\ children -- after going out for high school, don't look normal anymore; look mean\ values -- young people party, drink; don't go to camp\ television -- no time to learn about old stories|

Section 10: born -- January 12, 1931\ mother\ Linus, Agnes\ father\ William, Little -- Huslia\ Lydia -- first wife\ children -- mother had three\ Koyukuk, William -- brother\ Sam, Tony\ Sam, Big Sophie\ father -- died\ Koyukuk, Grafton -- stepfather, 1935\ mother -- adopted to\ Henry, South Fork\ Ned, Pauline -- mother's niece\ Auntie Effie (William)\ brother -- William Koyukuk\ school -- didn't go, lived out; enjoyed it\ marriage -- age sixteen; old way\ trapping\ Kanuti\ Old Man Creek\ Kk'eeyh Daghaleetna\ fall -- go trapping 'til Christmas, then back out\ snares -- procedure\ animals -- marten, mink, rabbits, ptarmigan\ spring pole -- description\ fish nets -- through ice; October\ fish nets -- description\ fish -- whitefish, sheefish, dog salmon, suckers, loche\ brothers and sisters -- half\ Beetus, Sophie\ Bergman, Caroline\ deceased -- Ralph, Philip, Junior\ Simon, Lillian\ Koyukuk, Paul\ Annie\ Raymond -- lost 1975\ drinking -- quit, 1975\ education -- second or third grade\ old ways -- important|

Section 11: grandfather\ South Fork Henry -- told many stories\ camp -- he would babysit and tell stories\ bears -- only man hunt, he say\ woman -- not supposed to talk about bear; say name\ "Mountain Animal" -- translated name of Koyukon substitute for bear\ thunder -- he prayed in Native language and said to make little noise far away\ today -- still ask thunder to go away\ thunder -- 1966, came close to bank, bumped the ground\ Bergman, Auntie Elizabeth -- at her house\ Edward\ grandparents\ Linus, Old\ Linus, Kathleen -- nice woman, fed us\ William, Uncle Joe -- close to him, good singer, speech maker; bawl us out to make us understand\ today -- some elders party too much\ Bergman, Auntie Elizabeth -- call her mom; nice, quiet, stories\ Williams, Jenny -- cousin\ Stevens, Jeanie -- friend, best buddy\ David, Kitty -- sledding\ school -- part time, 1945; mother not well then\ games -- sledding; baseball game; volleyball; football -- old timers used to play|

Section 12: wages -- 1964; before that a little; 1953\ Utopia -- mining\ camp -- cut wood\ shop -- got sick after two weeks\ Hog River -- Hogatza River\ mining camp -- 1964\ mining -- laborer; oiler, $2.65/hour|