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Bill Brown, Interview 2, Part 1
Bill Brown

Bill Brown was interviewed on October 22, 1992 by David Krupa at Elmer E. Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Bill was visiting Fairbanks from his home in Gustavus, Alaska to finish work on Denali Mountaineering Project Jukebox where, instead of being the interviewee, he did the interviewing. In this first part of a two part interview, Bill gives a brief summary of his career in the National Park Service, then goes on to detail the process of defining and protecting historic sites as part of the National Park Service's mission along the Koyukuk River and in the Central Brooks Range. Bill shares the perspective of a historian as he discusses the long history of Native presence in the area and the successive waves of European interest and occupation based primarily on mining, and more recently, oil development on the North Slope. He discusses how the relative isolation of the Brooks Range and the fragility of the environment affected its frontier development. He goes on to chronicle Native involvement and reaction to Western encroachment, and concludes with a brief overview of Alaska's land and resource history and its impact on national parks in Alaska.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 93-15-01

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Oct 22, 1992
Narrator(s): Bill Brown
Interviewer(s): David Krupa
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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1) His personal background and his involvement in the Park Service

2) Coming to Alaska

3) D-2 land selection historical work...future planning

4) Historical archeology and historic site survey work

5) Managing historic sites

6) Sensitivity to the oral traditions of Native history in the region

7) Different perspectives in Gates of Arctic National Park

8) Mining activity in the region

9) Lack of centralized data communications

10) The development of technology creating mining boom

11) River captains and Joe Sun

12) Continued discussion of Joe Sun and Native involvement in mining

13) Significance and contributions of Arctic John and Grant Spearman

14) Bob Marshall's utopian description of Native interaction with Euro-Americans and Bill's interpretation

15) The recent history and the formation of the Park from a historian's perspective

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Section 1: Brown, Bill\ Korean War\ Navy Department\ National Park Service -- headquarters, D.C. historical editor\ National Park Service -- Northeast Region, publication officer\ National Park Service -- Southwest Region, regional historian\ National Park Service\ conservation groups\ Black Mesa Defense\ historic sites\ preservation -- management|

Section 2: D-2\ park formation -- debates\ Yukon-Charley Rivers\ North Slope Borough\ University of Alaska -- Arctic Environmental Information and Data Center\ Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act -- 1980\ National Park Service -- Alaska Region\ retirement\ Gustavus\ Brown, Randy\ hunting\ trapping|

Section 3: D-2\ surveys\ maps\ National Park Service -- significance\ historic site -- surveys\ National Park Service -- prerequisites\ Gates of the Arctic -- regional historian, project historian\ Kunz, Mike\ Upper Koyukuk -- Middle Fork\ Sackett, Russ\ Creech, Jim|

Section 4: historical site\ Detritus\ archeology -- historical\ Central Brooks Range Region\ Gaunt Beauty, Tenuous Life\ park management -- planning\ Marshall, Bob\ Wiseman -- mapping\ US Geological Survey\ Arctic Village -- study of Wiseman|

Section 5: antecedents\ history\ mining\ trapping\ Wild River Valley\ Koyukuk -- North Fork\ historic site -- definition\ historic site -- preservation\ helicopter\ Mascot Creek cabin\ Yale cabin\ history -- human\ historical narrative\ historic site -- evaluation\ Walker Lake\ Koyukuk -- North Fork\ Brooks\ US Geological Survey\ Webb, Melody\ Yukon Frontiers\ Koyukuk\ Yukon River\ Noatak\ Kobuk Region\ Central Brooks Region|

Section 6: lands -- cultural\ oil -- exploration\ Navajos\ Hopis\ Pueblos\ Gates of the Arctic\ ethnography\ Nelson, Dick\ Kunz, Mike\ Native adaptations\ miners\ "Still a Homeland"\ Koyukon\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ Noatak\ Kobuk\ Gwich'in -- Athabascan\ Chandalar\ anthropology|

Section 7: Anaktuvuk Pass\ caribou\ South Flank drainage\ interior -- mountain valleys\ Paneak brothers\ Fairbanks\ Paneak, Simon\ Johnson, Dr. Walter, Wiseman, 1940\ Alaska Road Commission -- Wiseman\ Hammond River\ Haul Road\ Indian hunter -- perceptions of\ mining -- placer gold\ explorers -- Navy, \ Marshall, Robert\ Onion Portage\ Kobuk\ Johnson, Ernie\ trapping\ land -- Federal division of Territory\ Alaska Statehood \ US Geological Survey\ Bureau of Education\ Arctic Village -- Wiseman\ people -- importance\ mining\ mining -- shafts\ permafrost\ mining -- winter\ Salmon River\ Kobuk River\ Cosmos Hills -- mountain|

Section 8: mining -- strike\ Seattle\ cutting logs\ winching -- buckets\ mining -- gin poles\ mining -- claims\ town -- establishment of\ Central Brooks Range\ Wiseman\ Bettles\ development\ mining -- turnover\ population\ Territorial Department of Education\ school\ Wiseman -- Mr. Webster\ Juneau\ Minano, Mr. -- Japanese\ Wiseman -- Japanese|

Section 9: communication -- networks\ "stringers"\ Seward\ Gold Rush\ White Pass\ Chilkoot\ Seattle\ University of Alaska -- Alaska & Polar Regions\ Tobin, Mr. -- son founded Alaska magazine\ "Deep Hole Tobin"\ Tobin Creek\ Wild Lake\ mining -- Glacier River\ studies -- how to conduct\ "fringe of the fringe"\ steamboats\ Yukon River\ Kuskokwim\ mining\ gold dredges\ Fairbanks\ Nome -- mining|

Section 10: mining\ Kobuk\ mining -- deep hole\ mining -- mechanization\ National Archives\ McKinnet, Allen\ US Geological Survey\ mosquitoes|

Section 11: river -- captains\ journals\ diaries\ oral history\ Breck, Charlie -- Wiseman\ Wild River\ Anaktuvuk\ Evansville\ Bettles\ Kobuk River\ Libby, David\ Shungnak\ Sun, Joe|

Section 12: Sun, Joe\ remoteness\ isolation\ mine -- laborers\ mining -- Native claims\ "hyperadaptability"\ Noatak\ Shungnak\ change -- cultural|

Section 13: Spearman, Grant\ Simon Paneak Museum\ John, Arctic\ Togiak Lake\ Anaktuvuk Pass Village\ Marshall, Bob\ Wiseman\ Campbell, Dr.\ Brooks Range\ Kakinya, Elijah\ Nageak, Anna\ historic sites|

Section 14: application to Gates of the Arctic National Park\ Marshall, Bob\ Ulen, Tishu\ Kobuk\ Koyukuk\ Bettles\ trapping -- Lower 48\ relations -- white/Native\ caste system\ Schneider, Bill\ Lake Minchumina\ Mt. McKinley\ roadhouses\ Yukon -- Tanana\ McGrath\ aviation -- impact\ Kobuk\ Chandalar\ Koyukuk\ US Geological Survey -- explorers & mappers\ relations -- white/Native|

Section 15: Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act\ Bureau of Land Management\ Alaska Territory\ Statehood Act\ Statehood Act -- impact\ land -- State selections\ land -- traditional\ Udall, Stewart -- Secretary of the Interior\ Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (1971)\ Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act -- development\ National Park Service\ Fish & Wildlife Service\ Bureau of Outdoor Recreation\ National Forest Service\ Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act\ conservation movement|