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Sage Patton
Sage Patton

Sage Patton was interviewed on October 24, 1991 by Dan O'Neill in the audio studio at Elmer E. Rasmuson Library on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks, Alaska. The interview concentrated on details of life in the Alaska bush, and most particularly on a "woman's perspective," which might be distinct from a man's. Accordingly, interview questions dealt with such topics as the division of labor between the sexes in a subsistence lifestyle. When Sage lived on the Yukon and Nation Rivers in what became Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, she had been married to Dave Evans, and after the interview, she said she had been reluctant to dwell on details of their relationship in such a way as to appear to be "bashing the ex." In this interview, Sage talks about living a subsistence-based lifestyle in a remote cabin, including building a cabin, their seasonal round of activities including winter trapping and summer fishing, the use of dog teams, the reasons for choosing this lifestyle, and the roles of men and women in maintaining the lifestyle. She also discusses the local attitudes towards the "river people," and issues they faced once the National Park Service arrived to manage the area.

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1) Personal background and her decision to move to Alaska

2) The people they met when they got to Eagle, and moving downriver

3) Building homesite and trapping cabins

4) Using dogs for transportation

5) The underlying philosophy of going to the wilderness to live

6) Her former work in a psychiatric hospital and with developmentally disabled children and adults

7) Counter-culture values that influenced their approach to bush living, and how these values translated into the practicalities of the life they found

8) First winter on the Nation River

9) More stories about Joe Hajek

10) More about the first year they spent on the Nation River

11) Trapping, fishing, and encounters with animals

12) The fish camp upriver

13) Developing a seasonal round, and seasonal travel and transportation

14) What they fished for

15) Where they trapped

16) Gender roles, the independence of owning your own dog team, and going to town in the winter

17) Dick Cook and other people living out along the rivers during the 1970s

18) Attitudes in Eagle towards the people living along the rivers

19) Land ownership, the coming of the National Park Service, jobs, and changing attitudes

20) Problems with the site claiming procedure, and how fear of eviction played into the river lifestyle

21) Leaving the country and moving away

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: Patton, Sage\ bush living - rationale\ Evans, Dave\ Snow, Brad\ Allen, Lily\ Eagle\ river people - cabin sites\ Alaska Highway - story\ site selection - criteria|

Section 2: Waller, Sarge\ Waller, Louise\ Eagle - attitudes\ river people - homesites\ Nation River - cabins\ Tatonduk River\ Kandik River\ settling - criteria\ Hajek, Joe|

Section 3: cabins - Bluff\ cabins - Nation River\ cabins - Taylor\ cache - ground type\ bush living - floods\ bush living - freeze-up\ travel - freeze-up|

Section 4: Cook, Dick\ dog teams - freighting\ dogs - temperament\ dogs - breeding\ dogs - training|

Section 5: bush living - values\ lifestyle - aesthetics\ seasonal lifestyle\ bush living - continuum\ cabins - restoration\ subsistence - values\ self-sufficiency - bush living\ river people - philosophy|

Section 6: Patton, Sage\ employment\ children|

Section 7: river people - level of technology\ 1970's values\ self-sufficiency\ lifestyle - simplicity\ Swede saw\ ax\ paddle canoe\ bush living - labor\ river people - clothing\ river people - purism|

Section 8: bush living - isolation\ river people - visiting\ sense of community - river people\ Snow, Brad\ Allen, Lily\ Cook, Dick\ Hajek, Joe - stories\ cabins - bluff\ Nation Townsite\ bush living - mail|

Section 9: Hajek, Joe - story\ trapping - snowmachine\ Hajek, Joe - "Polack Joe"\ Hajek, Joe - Chicken\ mining disputes - Joe Hajek|

Section 10: bush living - wood cutting\ Evans, Dave\ Patton, Sage\ bush living - daily routine\ bush living - getting water\ river people - lifestyle\ McCall, Dave\ McCall, Susie\ airstrips - packing snow with snowshoes\ airstrips - winter\ Fort Egbert\ bush living - income\ fire fighting - BLM\ Webb, Melody|

Section 11: bush living - income\ dog teams - trapping\ trapping\ Evans, Dave\ Patton, Sage\ marten\ lynx\ wolves\ coyotes\ fox\ otter\ bear\ caribou\ beaver\ Bluff cabin - bear story|

Section 12: fishing - subsistence\ fish camp - layout\ fish camp - tents\ fish camp - visiting\ river people - fishing|

Section 13: river people - seasonal round\ bush living - freeze-up\ cabins - Bluff\ dog teams - freighting\ cabins - Nation River\ canoes - lining\ Waller, Sarge|

Section 14: salmon - King\ salmon - Chum\ fish nets - salmon\ fishing - subsistence\ fish nets - whitefish\ fish processing - canning\ fish processing - drying|

Section 15: cabins - Bluff\ cabins - Nation River\ cabins - Hard Luck Creek\ trails - Taylor Cabin-Yukon\ trails - clearing\ Hajek, Joe\ trails - restoration\ trail blazing - story\ cabins - restoration\ cabins - new construction\ Brown, Randy\ Evans, Dave\ trails - Hard Luck Creek-Yukon\ "Phonograph Nelson" - Nelson, Chris\ Bluff Cabin - boats|

Section 16: Evans, Dave\ Snow, Brad\ Appalachian Mountain Club\ bush living - skills\ bush living - gender roles\ bush living - women\ transportation - dog teams\ river people - gender roles\ gender roles\ Patton, Sage\ dog teams - technology\ toboggans and sleds\ dogs - relationship with\ winter travel - going to town\ winter travel - river\ Cook, Dick|

Section 17: Cook, Dick\ cabins - Tatonduk River\ McPhee, John\ river people - neighbors\ Abel, Jan\ Abel, Seymour\ Patton, Sage - journal\ Edwards, Charlie\ Edwards, Cher\ cabins - Kandik River\ Trainor, Jean\ Ricketts, Larry\ Gaudio, Little John\ Sager, Michael\ Sager, Elizabeth\ cabins - Trout Creek\ sense of community - river people\ river people - visiting\ bush living - visiting overnight|

Section 18: Eagle - attitudes\ Snow, Brad\ Boone, Jean - "the green house"|

Section 19: government agencies - impact\ regulations - enforcement\ Williams, Dave\ trespass - Bureau of Land Management\ trespass - National Park Service\ Bureau of Land Management - trespass\ National Park Service - trespass\ Land status - Yukon-Charley\ cabin permits\ National Park Service - jobs\ lifestyle - changes\ Evans, Dave\ river people - level of technology\ cabin permits\ ANCSA|

Section 20: seasonal round - cabins\ cabins - subsistence\ subsistence - sites required\ McPhee, John\ lifestyles - Alaska\ Scott, Jim\ Scott, Elva\ Cook, Dick\ land status - changing\ federal homesteading\ Bureau of Land Management - enforcement\ Stevens, Ted\ bush living - perpetuation\ trespass - river people\ cabin permits\ National Park Service - presence on river\ Bluff Cabin - NPS signs|

Section 21: Patton, Sage\ Evans, Dave\ bush living - values\ seasonal round - cabins|