This is the continuation of an interview with Charlie Edwardsen, Sr. (Aaluk) on March 9, 1982 by Bill Schneider and Wendy Arundale at his home in Barrow, Alaska (now known as Utqiaġvik) for the Chipp-Ikpikpuk and Meade Rivers Oral History Project. In this second part of a two part interview, Charlie talks about fishing on the Chipp River, impacts on fish populations from military seismic testing, finding good fishing spots, and how to make and use a fish trap. (IHLC Tape #00045)
The transcript with Iñupiaq spellings was completed by Kathy Itta (now Ahgeak).
Digital Asset Information
Project: Chipp-Ikpikpuk and Meade Rivers Oral History Project
Date of Interview: Mar 9, 1982
Narrator(s): Charlie Edwardsen, Sr.
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Wendy Arundale
Transcriber: Katherine Itta Ahgeak
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An old-timer who taught him where to go for fish and how to tell a good fishing spot. Also, about how he thinks the military's use of seismic testing effected fish populations.
How the old-timers knew where the good fishing spots were and how to look for these spots.
How to make fish traps and the different ways in which they can be used.
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Bill: So, we're talking about that old timer that told you the story about the events that took place. He had nothing to give you but he gave you... Charlie: Gave a story like that, and told us what, where to go hunting, look for fish and he tell us and we don't know where they were and he describe them. How the lake looks. There's a bank here, and when, when we go down to...around Half Moon Three we'd start to look for a place. We'd take a net and set a net. See, if there's fish in them and finally we found them. Found the place where he was telling us. Said when they...don't get a whale in the fall time, long time ago, see, that's where they always go up. The people from the point, Nuvuŋmiut, they go up there. And they'd get fish from that lake and also they'd get smelt from the lagoon, from the inlet. Smelt, that's what they, what they told us. There's smelt there. But we never look for them. Bill: So, he lived up there a long time? Charlie: Yah, he lived there a long time. But he's buried up in that...way up beyond where he used to go. He's buried right at Uġvik. Either Uġvik or Akiqpak. Either two. Bill: Did he tell you any other stories about the places up there? Charlie: No, that's the places he was telling us where they...used to survive. The old timers. That's around Wright Point and there was another place he told us. They call it Kulguraq. Bill: What does that mean? Charlie: Oh, little river, Kulguraq. It's a shallow place and that's a little creek or something like that. And ah, there was a lake there...you could get all the fish you want. By just using a tent pole or shoving your net quite a ways out, a little ways out, you'd get a lot of fish. But, all them, all them places are gone now. I mean, see, it's when the seismic started, lost the darn lakes and the Navy deceived(?) me. That's what happened. Blasting kill all the fish in them. Bill: Yah, I've heard you say that before. What makes a good fishing place? Charlie: A good fishing place? Bill: What were the old timers looking for when they were looking for a fishing place? Charlie: Oh, what I'd say, they'd just try out a lake; see if there's fish in it. That's how we, we found a lot of lakes like that. We'd just try them out. Just to see if there's fish in them. And after we try out we'd pull our nets up and we'd know if there's fish there. And here if it wasn't for Arnold and me..see, like...the people from Tulimaniq. There used to be a people down there called Tulimaniq, Simpson. And there are people down there go clear up to Chipp, go clear up to Aviullaavik to go fishing. And they got a lake there, all the fish they want. That's about 12 miles from Nuiqsut there that they didn't know about. That's what that old man told us about that lake and we found it. And there were really big fish. I ...just want to see how many fish I can catch. During the night I start fishing by myself. I want to see how many I catch with one net. About maybe 40 foot net. I clean my net every two hours and it could just about full. I got over 1,200 fish in just a few hours. And I said to myself, "what the hell I'm doing?" I just pull my net out and stop fishing. No use fishing if I'm not going to use them. Bill: Sure. Charlie: Just enough for our dogs. We found out there was fish there and my uncle, two uncles start fishing there. Tom Brower after we found them. Wendy: Was there a particular time of the year that it was good to go there for that kind of fishing? Or just any time of the year? Charlie: Anytime. See, I used to go up to that lake in February. Take some nets. The people be surprised, they ask us, "how do you set your nets?" Just for kidding, I just tell them, you chop two holes, and dive in and come out through the other one. No, see, I used this lath, 1/4 inch thick and I splice them together and put a light on the other end. A flashlight bulb, a bulb and battery and just feed it under the ice and you can see that light. Just chop another hole where the light is.
Bill: I'll be darned. Did...I wonder about the old timers, I guess they tested out the lakes too? Charlie: Yah. Bill: Did they, how did they know where the river was good to fish? Charlie: They'd, they checked the depth of the water. They checked the depth in the water. How deep it is. In...the summer time. Any place where it's more than two fathoms deep, that's good. See the fish goes to these deep places to survive in the winter, during the winter time. And they stay in that deep place and that's what we always look for is deep, a deep place to fish. Wendy: I'm sorry. Charlie: What? Wendy: Would that two fathoms measurement be made at low water? Charlie: Ah, two fathoms see, in the fall time that's deep enough. We don't...in the river, we don't fish no... You... can get all the ling cod you want in them places. Bill: Is that have to do with ice? Charlie: Under the ice, under ice. Bill: Yah, but... Charlie: About eight feet thick. Bill: But the fish, do the fish seek the deep places so they don't get frozen to the bottom? Charlie: Yes, that's what, oh, I guess it's nature gave them the idea. Bill: But you think that's the reason? Charlie: Uh-huh. They come from these deep places in the fall time, and they spawn in them. Also they spawn. See, the fish start moving in the fall time when they starts spawning. They don't spawn in the lake. They spawn into these deep places. Bill: Oh, they don't go up in the lake? Charlie: No, not into the lake. They go right into the river. They call it qaglu, qaglu. And they go into them qaglu's. Bill: Yah. Charlie: When you see them that's when you find a deep place that you haven't fished. If you set a net and you start catching fish in there. Bill: What makes those deep spots? Charlie: The current. See, when the river, when there's a sharp turn and it'll, it'll dig it out when it's just like a prop anyway, or a boat. Digs it right out. In some stretches it'll be a long ways, like, dug out like that. And last year where Arnold Brower's camp is; that place was a shallow place and now this year it's deep. You can fish right by his house. And my place up at Chipp 10 used to have been deep for about a mile and now it's shallow again. I don't know what could have happened, next year again. It changes so, it changes so much in the river. Bill: That must have affected the old timers too. Charlie: But Chipp 1 doesn't change. It's deep all the time. The river there is up to three fathoms deep. and see, I...got lakes up there I can fish anytime. I got some lines up at some of them lakes under, in the water. Right now I could go up there and just chop the...follow the line right down to the water and if I don't cut it, even if I cut it, I can always get it from the side. I can set a net in there. Even in eight foot of ice. I can set a net in there and I know I'm going to get fish.
Bill: Uh-huh. What happens when you have streams running into the main river? Charlie: To the main river? Bill: Suppose you have a lake and its outlet coming into the main river. Charlie: See, the outlet from that main...from that lake, the fish comes out of it. I don't know why. The grayling comes out of it into the river. And they call it a qaglu. The old timers they make it out of willows and a bag, a fish trap. They put willows on both sides so that gooseneck of your be right there and all the fish goes right into that bag, into the qaglu. And they check it often and they, they dump the fish on the ice and put it back on again. And they don't use the net, some of them old timers. That's all they use. Wendy: The qaglu itself is in the trap? Charlie: Yes, it's a trap. See they make it out of willows. They scrape it and it looks real nice. It's got a small neck on it so fish'll go right through. And they got also willows on the back so they won't go back out. I've seen one, that's all. And ...they had one up at the Meade River. Bill: So, some old timers would fish just in those outlets? Charlie: Yah, just them outlets. and an old lady up at Inaru, he didn't even use that. He made it so the fish will come right on top of the ice. That's Leo Kaleak's mother. Kivvauraq, old...little old lady. He made it and he used willows and kind of blocked the river and made a hole in it and the fish stayed there. They just came right out the ice. He kind a trench it. Trench it where it's little thick so they come right out. And the fish think there's water clear out to the front and they just. Bill: So they swim right out on top. Wendy: Instant frozen fish. Bill: Are there some places like this that we're talking about on the Ikpikpak? Charlie: Ah, yes, my uncle, Vincent Nageak, he said he just trying to tell me about that. He said, "Why don't you make a qaglu and you don't have to worry about a net and you can get all the grayling you want?" Right at Uġvik. That creek runs right into one of the lakes. Said I'd catch every tittaaliq and every sulukpaugaq coming out of that creek. Bill: What's that place again? Charlie: Uġvik. Bill: And that's good for grayling? Charlie: Grayling, oh yah. But Ikpikpak is good for grayling anyplace. Bill: But this technique that... Charlie: Yes, it's a creek and it's narrow and that's good for your ...that bag. Bill: But you wouldn't use that bag for ling cod, would you? Charlie: No, you can use everything goes in there. Bill: Anything? Charlie: Anything. Ling cod, everything. Any kind of fish that's been up there and coming out of there, they go in there. There's lake trout, everything. Wendy: What other kind of fish beside ling cod and grayling do you get on the Ikpikpak? Charlie: They call it Aanaakliq and also there's iqalusaaq. They call it, that's herring, and we got ...and they're different sizes, the ones in the lakes are big, herring. Also the aanaakliq is big. And uh, Northern Pike. There's a lot of them in one lake. We don't even care for them. Bill: Yah? Charlie: You can...every cast you go in that slough, never empty. Bill: Gee, maybe we make you tired or make you hungry thinking about that. Bill: You caught that. Charlie: He would say that one time. Bill: Just because you guys were hunting so much? Charlie: Oh, yah, we walk so much. And he said he'd drive with a skidoo where we used to walk all day and back. And he said he'd take the ...he'd drive on a skidoo and can't get to that place where we used walk down and back. On time I used to. One time I walked from clear from Tupaaġruk to here in ten hours. I didn't walk, I run.