Thomas "Tom" Brower, Sr. (Paniattaaq) was interviewed on March 11, 1982 by Bill Schneider and Wendy Arundale at this home in Barrow, Alaska (now known as Utqiaġvik) for the Chipp-Ikpikpuk and Meade Rivers Oral History Project. In this interview, Tom talks about reindeer herding in the Ikpikpak area and the Brower family's herd based at Alaqtaq (also known as Half Moon Three Ranch). He also talks about travel routes used in the area, as well as hunting and fishing in various locations. (IHLC Tape #00043)
Digital Asset Information
Project: Chipp-Ikpikpuk and Meade Rivers Oral History Project
Date of Interview: Mar 11, 1982
Narrator(s): Thomas "Tom" Brower, Sr.
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Wendy Arundale
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The beginning of reindeer herding in the Ikpikpak River area.
The initial range for his reindeer herd.
The need for better management with increasing numbers of reindeer herds in the area.
Choosing the spot for his reindeer camp.
How his herd was stampeded and lost in 1951.
The range used when herding reindeer.
Moving to the reindeer herd's summer range near Half Moon Three Ranch.
The derivation of the ranch's name (Half Moon Three Ranch) and the layout of the ranch.
Communications while out herding and the impact of government projects.
An old travel route up the Ikpikpuk River and a camp along the route.
Use of this travel route for trading purposes.
Resources along this route in the summer.
How the use of this travel route has changed over time.
A different travel route that went through the Ikpikpak into the Colville River area.
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Bill: This is Bill Schneider and Wendy Arundale and we're here with Tommy Brower in his historic store here in Browerville and today's the eleventh of March. We're going to talk a little bit about the history of reindeer herding in the Ikpikpak River area. Tom: I'm Tom Brower, Thomas Paniattaaq Brower. I was born March 25, 1904. And regarding reindeer that we are going to give a little information on, as much as I know, the reindeer were brought in the late 1890s and it was to be a source of food for either shipwrecked whalemen and the Natives in time of shortage of food, meat. Anyway, how I got into the reindeer was Dad had purchased five female reindeer in 1904 from the Bureau of Education who was in charge of the reindeer in Barrow at that time. It was with an understanding that these five reindeer would be given to his oldest son, and that was at that time was from his first wife, my older brother Jim. Kay Brower would have fallen heir to them. But since his mother died during the influenza or measles, measle epidemic in the late 1890's, Dad had to send the two boys and the two girls from his first wife to his sister so they could have their education, and I fell heir to them. As I grew up I saw how Dad was working with the reindeer and then later in the early twenties, I had to take over. And our herd was called the Number Four Herd. And the herders that were there was Alfred Hopson Sr. and Tom Gordon Jr.-- we nicknamed him Mickey.
Tom: And they were with the herd from 1912 to 1918 and were in the area between Ikpikpak as the western boundary, Ikpikpak or the Chipp River. Boundaries were not too essential at that time and therefore we did not stand to the boundaries too much the first years, until the herds got more numerous. Therefore we moved... I came into the herds around in 1926 with my family, and moved to my ranch called Half Moon Three Ranch at Alaqtaq River. That's the east tributary of the Chipp. And we worked our herd for about... from 1927 until 1948. And after Dad passed away in '45, I had to come on in around '48, and turned the herd over to my two sons, and they had up to 1951.
Tom: Now in between there, there were so many reindeer herds in this area that I had insisted to get the control of the reindeer herds away from the BIA school teacher, principals in each community and for a reindeer service to be started. That was started, I would say golly, in the 1930's, somewhere in there. Johnson was the first Reindeer Service Manager and a fellow by the name of Jens Forshaug was the second and the last, I just can't place his name right now. Anyway we did have it under the Reindeer Service control, and the BIA was trying to create a co-op program out of all the reindeer in Alaska. And I tried to discourage that, but they said they would be behind it, the BIA. Well, it didn't take long for the reindeer to start disappearing then the owners were removed when that co-op was formed. I was the only one that retained the ownership status. Our herd was the last herd to be visible in the north of the Brooks Range. We lost our herd in the summer or fall of 1951. We had an agreement with the Navy at that time, I had that agreement with the Navy, that they did not buzz my reindeer herd after they came in in '44. And they wanted my assistance, so our herd happened to be right in the middle of the PET-4 range. And that's why I insisted they did not buzz the herd especially during fawning time and so forth so they might get them all excited and stampede and lose their young ones. That is the herd that has been longest up in the Arctic here, and I still up to this date, see mother reindeer with mark bringing their young ones back to where the ranch is. Twenty-odd years old, some of them females. It surprises me that reindeer can live that span of life.
Bill: How did you choose that place on the Ikpikpak, Chipp River that is, to have a reindeer camp? Tom: Well, my reindeer had been moved away from the other herds, and verbally we made an understanding in the herding status that certain herds use certain rivers as a kind of a check point. So I used the Ikpikpak and my herd had been before I took it over. Al Hopson and Mickey Gordon had moved east of the east side of the Dease Inlet, over toward the east side of the mouth of the Chipp, and use the Simpson Point for summer range where it was natural. When the mosquitos came they could roam back and forth in there, and they could come back a little ways and keep an eye on them. In the narrows there. So that was one reason why I built my ranch out there, and established my home. I had corrals at that time, and I still have one of the buildings out there and my underground cold storage and part of the chute. I was starting to dismantle it this last summer to utilize some of the framework that it had in it. Some of the wires are all rolled up and put on board, galvanized in case we ever..I tried my damndest to try to get the reindeer started again. Belcher was that last Reindeer Service man. His last name was... Belcher, and I said, "Mr. Belcher, my reindeer has been stampeded by the Navy, and that's roughly a $185,000 loss to." See I built the herd up from few hundred to up to six thousand one time. But without enough sale, it started to create a lot of work having a big herd. Therefore I figured with the increase, if I could slaughter pretty much of the increase each year, and keep a total say up to 2,400-2,600 head, I could slaughter from 5-700 steers or fawns every year to maintain it. That's what I had been starting to do when the Navy came in. And they cooperated with me until up until 1948.
Tom: In '49 I had to come in and then in '51, the boys, I had asked them to come on in to get their supplies with my boats and go up to the ranch. To be here... That they would be doing that work in two weeks time with the boat, getting all their equipment and gear back to the ranch so they could take care of the ranch. And I had made arrangements with Wiens, when they had the bush planes here, to fly cover in case I wanted to go back and check on the herd. And fellow by the name of Carrington, Harrington, flying for Wiens, booked their operation from here, Barrow. He just said he couldn't find time. Started making excuse after I had made the arrangements, you know. And in that two weeks time, the second week I flew out to check on the herd, I saw where it had been on the summer range, and the boys were planted right on the tip of Simpson Point. It's about a bunch of college kids to do the seismic work. I didn't know anything about it, but the Navy had put in the summer of '51 a bunch of college kids down on Simpson Point to do the seismic work again. And they, having weasels for transportation, they stampeded the herd southward. I saw the track, I saw where they didn't slaughter any, but they were trying to take pictures apparently and chasing them with their weasels, you know. And through the marshes I could see where they kept running them right straight South. They passed my buildings, they got into the path of the migrating caribou, and crossed the Chipp. And when I saw this I went to the reindeer, we worked back after Belcher, after Belcher never took care of the herd better, you know. The principals were..., BIA schools were called back to be the overseers of that Program. And a fellow by the name of Williams was here and I walked up and went over to talk to them, told them what had happened. I said four or five years all of the Barrow co-op herds are gone. I'm not only one. Because I didn't want to join that co-op, he wasn't going to help me to... for protection, you know, any assistance. And that's what made me so mad, you know. He didn't want to even give me assistance to call Washington or talk to the state officials that... I was made to lose, by stampeding by another...by the war department program. And I tried to buy some reindeer from down back of Kotzebue, from Selawik, from a fellow by the name of Andrew Skin. And the BIA go the wind of that one. I had hoped to take a big plane and fly 400-500 reindeer after buying them from down there and dropping them off here, and then I could drive them back to my ranch, and that would be my starter again for reindeer. But the Reindeer Service got wind of it, and they told Andrew Skin not to sell less than $200 to 300 a head. That time we were selling on hoof twenty-five dollars was the price for selling amongst us, or if we sold to somebody else, you know. But the meat was always way down, and steers were bringing in not too much of a price, but around 30 to 40 cents a pound and the meat would be delivered.
Bill: How far up did you herd when you were herding reindeer? How far up the Ikpikuk River? Tom: I went up south in the wintertime, I went south of the Tasiqpak Lake up on those big rolling hills on the east side of the Ikpikpak. I would say, oh, about 60 to 70 miles from my ranch past the river delta section and up onto the high rolling hills. That's where the good feed was. Bill: In the foothills there? Tom: Yes. But I had asked for a 99 year lease. And somebody rewrote the darn thing and later I lost my copy. After I left my ranch, somebody broke in and tore up lot of my records, but I did have the stock book. They didn't break that up. I still have that. Some of the rules and regulations, I found that I put back, and then I've always followed them, so I could keep records on them. By-laws and things of that nature. But to go back a little on the Ikpikpak, I had always used the Ikpikpak as my western boundary as far south where it turns eastward towards the Colville. And that stream is called the Maybe Creek. And, this one, the Colville will come by here, and then along from the bottom of Dease Inlet here, using the Simpson the Smith Bay and over is what we call Pitt Point. And that should be a longitude of about a hundred eighty degrees, and it runs. . .supposed to come something like that on the Tasiqpak. Somewhere in there. It hit the Colville, and this is...this area is where I was, in the Narrows here. Delta here. My home would be somewhere in there. This was my natural summer range. Bill: So you had the area between Alaqtaq and Pitt Point? Tom: Yeah, a hundred and eighty degrees all the way to the Colville and that showed one time when I worked it out, about a million and a quarter acres of surface. Bill: Boy, that's a lot of country, huh? Tom: Yeah, but it's a lot of lakes. Wendy: A lot of it is water too. Tom: Water. You look at that from the air. The biggest part of it is water. This section of it where the actual Ikpikpak comes over here--this is the Chipp--to make the combination. This, here this is muddy. It's sand dunes. This area is poor grazing in the wintertime. So I had to send my boys up into this area up here on top, where it was high enough, and they just roam up there until spring comes along. They could get over here..
Bill: Farther to the west? Tom: Yes. And I had them cross over here for one reason. Because there's a kind of a nice rolling hills here, and we'd cross right back over this way down a little farther after the fawns are moving fairly well, you know. And cross over here, and then we'd have our summer range before the break-up. Wendy: So the fawning area was really over here, then? Tom: Fawning over here to this area, east side of the river, and then we had to cross. This is where there was less sand dunes section where miles of it. We'd cross over here and this is nice rolling hills over here, high hills. And I went along by the river there, and then crossed. Bill: Is there a name for this place where you crossed the river there? Tom: Yes. They call it Isuliumaniq. That means where the high rolling strategy along this south side of Ikpikpak comes along on here, there's kind of a high bluff, you know. It starts to show all along on the east side of the river all the way up. Okay... and all of this is kind of a slope, but this is where I dropped down, down by Isuliumaniq because there was very little sand dunes right there. Wendy: So how long would they stay over in this area west of the river? Tom: Over on the west side? It would be just about a week and a half as they come through moving so they didn't force their them. Let them graze, and then cross over toward the house right about in here. There's two or three other small branches of streams that they had to cross, and I selected an area where it was good grazing for them, without pressuring, pushing. Wendy: How did the herders cross the streams? Of course the reindeer could swim. Tom: Well...they crossed this one while the ice was still there. That's where we crossed it so we didn't have to swim the herd. Bill: Would this be in springtime then? Tom: This'll be in the springtime, just before the break-up. This is when they come down, just before the break-up, two weeks, and then they come in here, and then we have high banks on this side of this mark here. This is where they graze throughout the summer. Bill: That's near your camp, Alaqtaq? Tom: Alaqtaq, right here. Bill: And they would graze then on that coastal plain area for the summer? Tom: Alaqtaq is the stream, the river that I go up on, but I always call my ranch the Half Moon Three Ranch.
Wendy: How does it get the name of Half Moon Three? Tom: Oh, you know, there was a lake there something like this. (Tom draws the lake.) And it... Bill: Looks kind of like a half moon, huh? Tom: Yeah, well, the river coming along this way. I had my house up here on the high dry ridge, and the corral was here where I worked at.. This here, if wanted to slaughter, I had underground cold storages right here, big ones, and this is 30 - 40 feet deep, and there was no high bank to it you know. It's just in the flat. And it's good drinking water, but in the summertime I thought I'd use this, and it was nice and dry over in this section of it, and I could drive a 1,000 or 1,500 deer easily in there, and slaughter 200-300 fawns for parkas. Wendy: So you could drive them in this and then close that off. Tom: That's right, kind of hold them and then after we put our boat in there, we would just run across here with them. This is a long slough and I always use it for landing for skis or wheels or floats. About 3300-3400 feet long. Bill: And then this would be your ranch here? Tom: That's corral. Houses were here. Underground cold storages here. Wendy: So in a sense you named the half moon, this is the Half Moon, right? The lake? Tom: That's the reason why I called it the Half Moon. Looking at it from the air when I was flying with Sig Wien a lot, you know, I noticed that from an angle it looked more like a half moon. Wendy: Where did the "Three" part of the name come from? Tom: I could have called it "Half Moon Four." My identification was four. We always called it number four herd. I always called it number three herd for some reason. I think it could be... The three might have come in after the Navy came. The reason why... I was given a transmitter, receiver. They would never allowed to have any radios with an output of more than three or four miles. At the most six miles, at the most.
Bill: Was that because of the Navy? Tom: That's the Naval regulations. I think they were sort of secretive about it at that time when they came. They never had anything, and I had the boys from Anchorage come in. Golly, I know who they are, but they have... part of their program is in Anchorage. Golly. ...anyway, those boys from Anchorage came in and put in my portable power, and gave me receiver and transmitter, and gave me a crystal number, thirty-one oh-five, I think it was...air frequency. Bill: So you had good communications? Tom: Yeah. I had to have communication with the bush planes. And since I had it, they kept bugging me to relay lot of their messages to the rigs or their mobile units. Therefore I had to be talking with the mobile units that were staking trails or whatever for.... Bill: That's what I was going to ask you. How much did that Coast and & Geodetic Survey activity affect reindeer herding? Tom: Well, Coast and Geodetic S--- work was on the coastal area. They didn't bother to go in from the beach. Bill: I guess it was the Arctic Contractors, huh? Tom: That's right. Arctic Contractors were the ones that... The survey crews were the ones the seismic crews were the ones did a lot of traversing. And I had to protest one time regarding their shooting, you know, where the electric battery charging, and then leaving all their wire, and that would get into the hoofs of the caribou and reindeer. And I'd seen a lot of lame deer with all that wire tangled up in the horns and in the legs. I told em, I said start picking up their darn mess, I said. It's destroying a lot of game out here. Even our reindeer are bothered with it.
Bill: You were talking earlier about an old travel route that the people took up the Ikpikpuk River. Tom: Well, the people that traversed along the coast -- we'll say here's the coastline or where there's bays -- people would leave here to go south to the lake what we call Iksrugaġvik. Bill: Would you say that again? Tom: Iksruaġvik. That means where you get into. Well, you have a certain thing up there that you have advanced, if it's a canoe you're going to utilize... They call it something you're going to get into. That'll be our boat. That's their skin boat. They take that first then all their things that they're going to move along, and they go up this lake without even following this coast right here. Or along the lagoon. They just go up to this lake, and then here's a stream that goes into part of this Elson Lagoon over here. But in the Meely(?), its bypassing a lake something like this, which has a little small lake, and they just camp there, drag their canoes over through this marsh area into this big lake, and they will come down here without having to go through rough water into another.. Bill: Excuse me a minute, Tommy, what do you call that camping spot there? Tom: This is Avvaq River, and this is Tasiġruaq. That means large lake. Tasiġruaq is this one. They go through this, and in through that channel, and that little stream comes out right next to the bottom of Dease Inlet. The Dease Inlet will come like this, come something like this... End of Side 1 Beginning of Side 2 Tom: And camp on the bottom of Dease Inlet, on the mouth of Iqalulik, Dease Inlet. Then they cross over toward Wright Point using the shelter of what we call Oarlock lsland. That Oarlock Island they always call them Qiqiktuk. There's two islands in there, in the Dease Inlet there. One is we named Meathook Island and the other one is Oarlock Island. But the Eskimos just call them--the two islands--Qiqiktuk. That means two of them. Cross over from the islands to what we call Wright Point and the Eskimo name for that is Quŋŋulliich. That's what...sweet grass and stuff grows there, and they call it Quŋŋulliich. And then they follow that down towards the mouth of Alaqtaq River, next the Chipp River. See, the Chipp here, and here is where Alaqtaq comes in and the Chipp comes out over here. And then it runs into a big lake. They use that and follow it and they cross over that lake called Pittalugruaq. They call that Pittalugruaq. For some reason, it had a wide opening, lake with a wide opening into the Dease Inlet. They call it Pittalugruaq. Then this lake has two branches, kind of spread something like that, of river. They call one is Alaqtaq, and that's the one it was named for. Then they go in from Alaqtaq.. Bill: What was that Alaqtaq named for? Tom: River. Alaqtaq River. That's where my home is, over here. But you were asking about the trail, the Native people's trail. After they cross this Pittalugruaq, they take the lower channel, and follow that over to another lake. This lake is called a...(Brief interruption)."Virginia, what was it we used to call that lake right by Alaqtaq? The one where we used to go down and pick up..." Virginia: (unclear) (pause) Bill: Talking about that travel route and we took that lower branch there by Alaqtaq. Wendy: Pittalugruaq. Tom: Pittalugruaq. And we use the Alaqtaq River to go up... Golly. (unclear) Shallow lake, its a real shallow lake. (Pause). Wendy: Well, maybe it will come to you later on. Tom: Yeah, anyway we get into this lake, and then follow in through to a channel of it, the Eskimo name, Mayuaġiuraq. (Virginia remembers the name) Yeah. Quuniullat. That's the name. Quuniullat. Wendy: Quungullak. Tom: Yeah. This the area of it will be submerged in the springtime, and just leave a little small island, and then brants used to come in and nest a lot by the thousands over here. But this one, as the water recedes, will become a long point -something like that. Bill: What does that Quungullak mean? Tom: Quuniullat, it means a body of water which creates or forms an island during flood times. Quuniullat. This will submerge. A lake with that type of a definition. Anyway, you go up to Mayuaġiuraq and right at the bend, here is a high bank something like that. Now, you wouldn't notice it, but the Natives themselves have found this, following this stream down like this would get you close to where my ranch is over on the other side. But here is a marshy area, and it's deep marsh and all in through here, but you could note where some kind of a riffle is working in through that marsh. Right up to the end of that bank. Now, that has a definition here, and they call that marsh, the area where they traverse with their canoes, Paisaq. Wendy: Paisaq. Tom: Lot of these people don't know a lot of these names for some reason. They try to make up a lot of... But the definition of that Paisaq means... my father told me this, he said when he would traverse those courses, those routes with the native people when he first came to hunt for caribou fawnskins, they use those routes rather than to go out in the ocean because they were loaded. And when they camp, they'd unload their gear and put up their tent, give their canoes a chance to dry out a little, because they were skin. And they would oil their seams so they would be.... the preservation of the sinews would be in the oily status. But when they got into Paisaq, the mouth of that was just, oh, about approximately from here like that. BiIl: Maybe twenty feet? Tom: It's less than ten feet, it's less than ten feet wide. But it's just a marsh, and it kind of tapers in the middle to kind of take the riffle. So they would have to take their boats and nose right up into that, and hold it. Bill: Strong current? Tom: Yeah. It's a riffle going out, you know, and it starts to build up, and as it builds up, the front end of that canoe keeps moving in, blocks it. And they have their canoes all lined up. So when this one goes over, the other boats takes its place. And Paisaq means something that is handed down to them. It's been a handed down bypass status area. Lot of these people don't know these things, you know. And that's where they came into that marsh, and it cuts a big detour, and they had to portage so many times, but this will take them right to the edge of that high bank, and the river which could be reached the other was, and making more stops, could be reached by this short cut, through Paisaq and camp right on the edge of the lake right by that...end of that bank. When they camped, they could just take their canoes over and put them in that stream. Next morning they just load their things into it, and they're on their way again. Just like making a camp. Bill: So when they would go into that, the current would be running down and would lift the bow? Tom: That's right. It would give them enough water to keep pushing through and then block it right after the first one comes over. It's a passage way, and they know it, and it could create an easy... And then they'd come down from that Paisaq into this stream, and they call that stream Añiatchiaq, that means Añiatchiaq means a stream that guides you out to your destination. And this destination over here would be the bottom of... Smith Bay. And from there, when they get into the bottom of Smith Bay, I said the Smith Bay, the Ikpikpak, the other Ikpikpak, the old Ikpikpak comes out on that, and as they come out to the bottom of Smith Bay, they just use their paddles and just kind of guide along. They don't need a paddle, they can just... It's shallow, but their boats are (unclear) having just low draft. They can take them over to the mouth of Ikpikpak, go on in, in through that. That's the only time they're exposed to the open sea, right there, just about couple miles. And it's shallow water, there's hardly any roughness, you know. So they come right over and go into Ikpikpak. They go up the Ikpikpak just so far, and then the river goes from Ikpikpak over Tasiqpak. Bill: Is that the lake? Tom: That's the big lake, big Tasiqpak Lake. Bill: What's this river section here? Tom: I think it's Mayuaġiaq. Mayuaġiaq. I think it's Mayuaġiaq. Wendy: Is there a name for the place they take off up this river that you know of? Tom: Close there is what they call Iqsiññat. I don't know ... Iqsiññat, that's where some of the boys have their camp right now. Iqsiññat. Oh, I don't know why they named it that, it's probably..., somebody must have had bad dreams there or something frighten them. Wendy: What does Iqsiññaq mean? Tom: It means something that will frighten, or nightmare or something that could have happened. Or it could have been either... somebody could have been shot at with bows and arrows or something. People that were hiding from where danger, dangerous status you know. Call it Iqsiññat, and Mayuaġiaq, and then into Tasiqpak. And then from Tasiqpak, you go all the way on the north side of it, and go up to the eastern side of it, and then you get down nearly close to the bottom of Harrison Bay. They have a lot of names for these, and some of them, it's quite hard for me to remember. Although I know them, but that stream is called... Niġligaq, I think. That means where there's brants. Brant nestings along in there. And it hits into kind of a slough type thing where Eskimo Island will be here and Harrison Bay, Halkett will be out there. All of this can be accomplished without having to go out to sea and then crossing this whole stretch. They just keep on in through this, after they come out from here, this stream into this kind of a slough status all the way into part of the Harrison Bay and then cross over to... Niġliq is right here. All that can be accomplished without ever hardly going out into the open sea. Bill: How long was this travel route? Tom: Kuugruk, Kuugruk might be the name of this slough. Wendy: Kuugruk. Tom: Kuugruk.
Bill: For how long was this travel route used? You say your father remembered traveling it with... Tom: Yeah, the Eskimo's when they were trading were using it. Now even some of the old timers if they were just working through... When my father had lot of whaling boats, this area in the Bay of Cape Halkett here and Harrison Bay seemed to... had a lot of driftwood where they repaired canoes and they made their paddles and they made their sleighs, and there's ... there was new logs would drift in. Every year they would go up there with three or four canoes and camp over there and just... Bill: You say that spot Harrison Bay? Tom: Yeah. Right on this side of Harrison Bay, all along in here. And they don't have to take their canoes out onto that rough weather. They can portage through with long beams or rails, or the bottom rails or the end pieces or the bow of the canoes. And all of that was worked up by those with adz and lighten up, and then where they make the paddles, they were shaped into a paddle and they could have probably eight paddles. And they could whip saw it when they got back up to Barrow, they could whipsaw that. In the meantime it's all in one solid piece for eight paddle for each boat, you know. They probably had eight or ten to fifteen canoes so they would have that many with eight paddle deals. If they couldn't find large enough, then they would take the smaller ones and make two to make the eight paddles. But that's their old route.
Bill: That's really a good record. Appreciate that. And you say the main reason that they did this route instead of going out in the ocean was to keep away from the rough sea. Tom: To keep away from the rough sea. And at the same they get fish, they can get their caribou. During the summer months when they're traversing all the time. They're always in an area where there's food for them, where they don't have to pack it. They have a small net, a short net, and they could get their fish. And if they're coming back not too heavily loaded, then they could stay in a good fishing point like in that Paisaq. They get down into that area where there's a lot of good fish, you know, they stay there for a week and got all the fish they wanted to bring home. Kind (Chuckles) of turns soft a little, like Scandinavians, they like theirs turned blue. Bill: Right. Tom: The others they like it a little soft, soft so they could munch on it rather than... Hawaiians like it fresh so they can eat it while it's still kicking. I like it frozen cause that's the way I had it. I had to be out so much I never had hardly any cooked food. My breakfast, had to be just hot cereal, if I took anything. I never carried any coffee cause I didn't care for that when I was on the trail. I just take fish or frozen meat with a piece of fat. That would work through my system. I was out twelve or fourteen hours so they keep warm. Wendy: You needed it. Tom: That's right. My hands once I'd get going, get my circulation going, I don't need hardly my mitts, except when I would open up the traps, when I was working on my trapline. So I had to do a lot of my work... I had....special dates when I did certain things. Bill: Special times? Tom: Time and dates. Hm-hmm. Because I had to be doing things. Before I got mechanized, I had dogs. I had to use dogs to haul reindeer meat out of Half Moon Three. I built sleighs out of second growth white hickory and sleighs would be 16 to 18 foot long, 42 inches wide. They came in with six to seven to eight thousand pound load. I'd drive ninety miles in a storm that I wouldn't use for trapping, on the trapline. I could hardly see my wheel dog. Dad would come sailing in, take my time when I leave home. I take my course with the wind.
Bill: This is quite a route here. Did you have any other questions on this? I was going to ask Tommy about the other travel route. Wendy: I wanted to ask just one question. Tommy, when is the last time that you know of that people have used this route? Do they still use it at all today or is it too hard to negotiate with an outboard? Tom: Well, most of them want to go with a bigger boat nowadays, you know, along the coast. They ignore it a lot, but people that just wanted to move, mosey along, and follow those routes I think still use them with smaller craft, hunting. I've seen them take all that all the way down to Ikpikpak and into Tasiqpak. Some of our local boys still do that, they just like to camp. Keep on moving, but a lot of them don't know exactly where to use like this route here. None of them know that one. Wendy: That's the one through the slough? Bill: Through Paisaq, huh. Wendy: Yeah. Tom: Paisaq. Bill: Paisaq.
Bill: There was an old route that we heard about up through the Ikpikpak into the Colville. Tom: Well, those people went up the Ikpikpak. They would go in over to Maybe Creek and then they'd take that stream over Maybe Creek over either Maybe or close to Prince Creek. You're past Price Creek or Price and a lot of those streams that run into the Ikpikpak from... that go west like Aumalik and Price and other small ones, you know, with names that I don't recall. Just small drainages from flats where they could... Good locations for fishing if somebody was just out to go fishing that far in. Bill: You know where they crossed over into the Colville? Tom: Yeah, they get into that Maybe Creek. I followed that by plane a lot of times. Go in through what we call the Valley of the Willows and then from in there they pass that, then you cross over toward the Colville. Bill: But your boys, when they were reindeer herding, would use that area in there? Tom: Well, they had... Some of them when they got through trapping, I let them have six or seven dogs rather than using reindeer. They were more reliable than reindeer, you know. You can't use a reindeer pretty steady for too long a period. They don't have the stamina. If the dogs are kept properly, we got a lot of food for them they... Wendy: So in a sense, when they went up to that Valley of the Willows area, and then they would head more of less south from there? Tom: Yeah. Always on the Ikpikpak and then. It's part of the river. You could see it's in there, you know. It drains right into it.