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Jim Johnson and Pauline Chappelle
James Johnson, Sr., Pauline Chappelle, 1980s

James "Jim" Johnson, Sr. and Pauline Chappelle were interviewed on August 9, 1972 by an unidentified person in Ruby, Alaska. In this interview, Jim talks about starvation times and medicine people. He talks about how medicine people get their power to heal, the role of medicine women, and traditional beliefs about spirits and death. In parts of the interview, Jim speaks in his Native Athabascan language. Pauline tells a traditional Athabascan story about a brown bear trying to marry a fox.

Photograph of Jim Johnson courtesy of Clara Johnson. Photograph of Pauline Chappelle in the 1980s courtesy of Zeta Cleaver.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 91-12-74

Project: Raven's Story
Date of Interview: Aug 9, 1972
Narrator(s): Pauline Chappelle, James Johnson, Sr.
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife 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) A story of a “wild women” and “woodsmen” in times of starvation.

2) Medicine men and their powers to heal and where the powers came from.

3) More about medicine men and women and spirits.

4) Spiritual beliefs about death.

5) Pauline tells a story about a bear. (Interview ends abruptly.)

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: starvation\ fish -- shortage\ weather\ hunters\ moose\ temperature\ hunger\ malnutrition\ snowshoes\ sleds\ survival\ woodsmen\ Tanana\ Lower Yukon\ Anvik\ Koyukuk River\ woman -- wild\ name\ village\ (Athabascan word) -- “bogey man’s town”\ medicine people\ beliefs\ potion\ men -- young\ capture\ fish -- roe\ story -- authenticity|

Section 2: (Athabascan)\ Mackenzie River\ (Athabascan)\ understanding\ medicine men\ Auntie Lucy\ Grandma Essau (?)\ Old Man Peter\ man -- death\ Tanana\ Justin, Frank\ camp -- spring\ Old Mission\ ?, Edwin\ gunshot -- .22\ morning -- frost\ travel\ wound -- lung\ doctor\ power -- magical\ bullet\ healing\ Albert Sr., Lee -- death\ Tanana -- bank\ August\ building -- moving\ raft\ house\ Galena\ faith\ treatment\ power -- acquisition\ weather\ belief\ power -- inheritance\ clairvoyance\ ?, Lucy|

Section 3: power\ remedies\ help\ doctor\ headache -- food poisoning\ coma -- death\ midnight\ medicine woman\ object -- in hand\ object -- alive\ papers -- cigarette\ paper -- black\ urine -- young girl\ can opener -- use of\ recovery\ sickness\ medicine\ kerchiefs -- white\ stitches\ vomit\ hunting knife\ blood\ tricks\ magicians\ spirit -- departure\ Indians\ white people\ dictionary\ ghost\ spirit -- wandering\ daughter -- sickness\ river\ sound\ wind\ Titus, Henry -- tent\ kids\ mattress -- wolfskin\ clothes -- string|

Section 4: medicine woman\ Jurite, Nate\ husband -- spirit\ spirit -- gone\ voyage\ spirit -- transport\ packsack\ kerchief\ spirit -- walking\ spirit -- size\ spirit -- vision\ spirit -- recovery\ spirit -- sighting\ indication -- death\ belief\ father -- medicine man\ mother -- medicine woman\ brothers -- whistling\ smokehouse\ dog -- cocker spaniel\ fish -- packing\ dog -- Dixie\ drowning\ swimming\ wind -- beach\ beach -- ice\ dog -- death\ death -- sudden\ outside -- cities\ man -- wife|

Section 5: Dawson\ bear -- brown\ Whitehorse -- arrival\ clothing -- Presley, Elvis\ fox -- marriage\ canoe\ Dawson\ frogs\ mink\ canyon\ crow -- medicine\ river\ name -- (Athabascan)\ clothes -- torn off\ heat|