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Faye Ongtowasruk
Faye Ongtowasruk

Faye Ongtowasruk was interviewed on March 20, 2002 by Bill Schneider, Knut Kielland, and Kathy Turco at the Reindeer Herder's House in Nome, Alaska. In this interview, Faye talks about growing up around reindeer herding, taking over the family's reindeer herd after her husband passed away in 1992, the jobs she has done with herding and during corraling time, and her son managing the herd. She also talks problems with caribou infiltrating the herd and how environmental changes have effected reindeer herds and herdings. Her interview is complimented by some photographs taken by the late National Park Service photographer, Robert Belous.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2000-102-18

Project: Reindeer Herding: The Present and the Past
Date of Interview: Mar 20, 2002
Narrator(s): Faye Ongtowasruk
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Knut Kielland
People Present: Kathy Turco
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Science Foundation
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.


1) Family background in reindeer herding.

2) Changes Faye has seen since she first started reindeer herding.

3) Reindeer products Faye used as a little girl.

4) A typical year when Faye was a little girl and the problems with caribou.

5) Grandchildren's involvement in reindeer herding and Faye's husband's parents and grandmother.

6) Changes in climate and the effects it has on the reindeer and reindeer herders.

7) Closing thoughts.

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: Clarence -- husband died in 1992\ reindeer herd -- took over\ parents -- helped reindeer herders\ tent -- lived in\ reindeer dog\ Welch Company -- title of herd\ reindeer herders conventions\ Deering\ Shishmaref\ model herd\ reindeer -- drove north\ Stalker, Johnson -- trained Faye's son\ husband -- learned to herd after his son died\ sons -- five\ daughters -- three\ grandchildren -- help with reindeer\ de-horning\ ear tags\ earmark\ castrate\ string tie reindeer\ hacksaw -- use to cut horns\ change -- horn cutters\ rubber bands\ job -- cook\ owner|

Section 2: fawning\ tent\ Wales\ corralling\ tents -- burned down\ herd -- grown\ loan -- returned 500\ Gray, Tom\ waterproof mukluks\ leggings\ reindeer sinew -- stitch\ Iñupiaq words -- special stitch\ waterproof -- mukluks|

Section 3: corral\ ladies -- cook meals for workers\ job -- dishwasher\ reindeer meat\ slaughter fawns\ parkas\ parka -- six fawn skins\ fawns -- killed in July|

Section 4: July -- handle reindeer\ reindeer herders -- on foot\ summertime\ corral -- June\ helicopter\ Honda\ snowmachines\ weather\ horns -- selling\ horns -- shipping\ herd -- changes in\ funding -- none\ reindeer -- corral them\ Shishmaref\ reindeer -- less than 800\ overpopulate\ Weyiouanna, Clifford\ wolves\ fox\ wolves -- eat reindeer tongue\ protection against wolves\ caribou -- problem|

Section 5: handle reindeer\ watch reindeer\ Clyde and Margaret -- Faye's mother and father in-laws\ Clarence -- grew up with reindeer\ Stalker, Johnson\ corral\ model herd\ Davis, Larry\ Welch Company\ reindeer\ company herd\ Clarence's grandmother -- Faye corralled with\ Wales\ grandmother -- made parkas\ mukluks\ babysit -- when mother was cutting seal, ugruk\ National Park Service\ testing|

Section 6: sky\ sun\ water -- close to shoreline\ old days -- water further out\ landslides\ erosion\ temperature -- change too fast\ Honda -- made it easier for herders to travel\ weather changes\ protect bodies|

Section 7: clarification\ before husband died\ son -- died\ husband -- took over reindeer business\ Air Force\ reindeer herding -- hopes for the future|