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Luke and Alice Demientieff, Part 2
Luke and Alice Demientieff

This is the continuation of an interview with Luke and Alice Demientieff on April 17, 2002 by their granddaughter Tessie Paul, her husband Eugene Paul who is the village chief, and Karen Brewster from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program at the Demientieff's home in Holy Cross, Alaska. In this second part of a two part interview, Luke and Alice continue to talk about their hunting, trapping and fishing activities, experiences they had out on the trail and at their cabin, and interactions they had with specific animals. They also talk about how village life and Native traditions have changed, differences in healthcare and employment, and environmental changes they have observed. Finally, they discuss things from their personal lives, such as scariest moments, what they are most proud of, disappointments, and the challenges of moving and living in Bethel, Alaska.

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


1) Luke and Alice's preference for living in the woods at Reindeer Lake instead of in Holy Cross.

2) Surviving in the wilderness today.

3) How Holy Cross has changed from when they were growing up.

4) Luke's thoughts on game management.

5) Scary moments in their lives.

6) The greatest joy in their lives.

7) The hardest things they have dealt with in their lives, and ordering their first outboard motor in 1939.

8) Rowing to fish camp, and changes in lifestyle and numbers of fish in the river.

9) Fish camp in the old days.

10) What they are most proud of in their lives.

11) Disappointments or regrets in their lives.

12) Changes in the weather, the seasons, the rivers, and the availability of fish and moose.

13) The most important thing to pass on to today's youth and future generations.

14) Some of the traits or skills they would pass on.

15) Luke tells a story about chasing a fox.

16) Alice tells a story about running into a black bear when berrypicking.

17) Luke tells a story about wolves at their Reindeer Lake cabin.

18) Luke tells a story about seeing a large male bear chase a young bear.

19) Luke tells a story about seeing a bear chase a moose cow and calf.

20) Luke cutting wood for the sternwheeler when he was twelve years old.

21) Alice and Luke trapping together.

22) Selling the furs.

23) Trapping for beaver around Flat in 1952.

24) Healthcare in the old days.

25) Luke's mother's treatments for colds and other ailments.

26) The meaning of tradition, and changes between modern and traditional dances and gift sharing.

27) Other villages that participated in Holy Cross potlatches, and floods on the Yukon River at Holy Cross.

28) Floods when muskrat hunting.

29) Changes in the Yukon River around Holy Cross starting in the 1930s, and building a deadman for boats to tie up to.

30) Chiefs and traditional government in the village when they were growing up.

31) Traditional Council and Holy Cross Mission control over the village.

32) Fishing and gardening when they lived in Bethel.

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: Reindeer Lake\ Holy Cross\ living -- preference\ school\ building in Holy Cross\ job\ survival -- seasons\ season -- preparations\ knowing what to do\ subsistence|

Section 2: survival\ prepared\ regulations -- hunting and fishing\ take when you need it|

Section 3: changes\ Holy Cross\ younger generation\ television\ lifestyle\ subsistence\ hunting\ fishing\ subsistence -- early\ potlucks -- reason for\ potluck -- spring\ potluck -- fall\ living off land\ village -- away from\ life -- harder\ family -- take care of\ meat -- moose\ meat -- bear\ fish\ respect\ people helped\ kids\ helping -- when needed\ helping -- pay to\ teaching -- helping\ elders -- treatment of\ unfriendly\ respect -- lack of\ property -- respect for\ respect -- importance of|

Section 4: animals -- decline\ game -- regulations\ hunting -- sport\ regulations -- sport\ hunting -- village\ need\ money\ Alaska State Department of Fish and Game\ subsistence\ game management\ regulation -- different system|

Section 5: fear\ pilot\ Kaltag\ cannery workers\ airplane -- Goose\ Aniak\ co-pilot -- Luke\ pilot -- slept\ thunder storm\ airplane -- flying\ training -- lack of\ water -- fear of\ waves -- big\ lake\ Nenana\ Yukon River\ white caps|

Section 6: children\ grandchildren\ great-grandchildren\ sleep\ grandchildren -- number of\ great-grandchildren -- number of\ grandchildren -- visiting\ grandchildren -- thinking of\ children -- seeing change|

Section 7: moving\ Bethel\ Holy Cross\ transportation -- difficult\ airplane -- chartered\ moving -- expense\ wages\ prices -- differences\ rowing\ outboard motor -- first one\ Sea King\ Montgomery Ward\ mail order\ sternwheeler\ fall\ Tacoma, Washington\ arrival\ spring\ good service\ order schedule\ machinery -- difference in quality\ outboard motor -- price of\ inboard motor -- wooden propeller|

Section 8: travel -- river\ boat -- rowing\ fishcamp\ travel -- time\ boat -- loaded\ bundle -- fish\ lifestyle -- changes\ fish -- changes\ fish -- summer chum salmon\ fish -- too many\ fish -- hitting\ paddle\ nuisance\ outboard motor\ propeller|

Section 9: work -- lots of\ busy\ chores\ fishwheel\ fishwheel -- empty\ fish -- hauling\ beach\ wheelbarrows\ fish -- cutting\ fish -- summer chum salmon\ grandmother -- Luke\ salmon strips -- hanging\ fish -- king salmon\ summer\ king salmon -- number of\ fishing -- nets\ fishing -- fishwheel\ fish -- dog fish salmon\ salmon -- price of\ salmon -- salted bellies\ fish -- changes\ fish -- cutting techniques \ preservation -- techniques\ cutting -- speed\ fish -- cut for dogs\ fish -- cut for eating\ sticks\ strip cutter\ Aniak\ friend\ strip cutter -- faster\ skills -- Native\ stainless steel

Section 10: pride\ Luke -- building ability\ houses\ boats\ cabins\ construction\ finish carpentry\ inspector\ pass inspection\ building with no faults\ Alice -- cooking ability\ children -- able to feed|

Section 11: disappointments -- lack of\ experience -- learned from\ contractors\ construction -- changes in\ education -- lack of\ children\ homework\ education -- need for\ experience -- importance of|

Section 12: change\ weather\ seasons\ changes -- subtle\ seasons -- four\ seasons -- preparation for\ subsistence -- yearly round\ rivers -- changes\ fishing -- locations\ subsistence -- harder\ moose -- decline|

Section 13: youth -- don't listen\ respect -- lack of\ respect -- importance of|

Section 14: skills\ subsistence\ fish -- cutting\ seasons -- preparation\ skills -- teaching\ work hard\ respect|

Section 15: trapping\ snowmachine -- running poorly\ tent\ fox -- tracks\ snowmachine -- repair\ fox -- followed tracks\ fox -- caught up with\ fox -- jumped\ snowmachine -- turn around\ tired\ fox -- ran over\ fox -- grabbed\ fox -- tongue hanging out\ Luke -- breathing hard\ Luke -- rested\ fox -- chocked|

Section 16: Reindeer River\ berrypicking\ salmonberries\ babies\ bear -- safety\ Demientieff, Sandra\ Demientieff, Joseph\ creek\ bear -- black\ bear -- shooting\ boat\ pistol\ shooting over head -- reason for\ gun -- 357 Magnum\ bear -- closeness of\ crying -- reason not to\ bear -- sensitive to noise|

Section 17: wolves -- pack\ Moss Creek\ Bull Station Hill\ wolf -- lone\ island\ cabin\ hide\ howling\ wolf -- behavior\ gravel -- hauling\ beach\ wolf -- tracks\ investigate|

Section 18: bear -- male\ bear -- boar\ bear -- young\ bear -- behavior\ island\ bear -- running\ beach\ water\ bear -- track\ bear -- chasing other bear\ bear -- getting away\ summer|

Section 19: moose\ fall\ moose -- behavior\ brush\ water\ bear\ moose -- calf\ moose -- cow\ bear -- behavior\ beach|

Section 20: wood -- cutting\ boat -- sternwheeler\ job\ freezeup\ dogteam\ Deer Hunting Slough\ snow -- lot of\ tree -- felling\ wood -- lengths\ wood -- splitting\ tent\ wood -- number of cords\ handsaw\ axe\ chainsaw\ brother -- Luke\ work -- hard|

Section 21: trapping\ trapline\ sticks -- collecting\ trap -- setting\ trapping -- length of day\ snowmachine\ trail -- following\ calendar -- diary\ squirrels\ marten\ beaver\ cabin\ otter\ trapping -- Luke's method\ animals -- skinning\ tent\ Lovitz Cabin\ Lovitz Creek\ snowmachine -- stuck\ mittens -- caught on snowmachine\ Alice -- being dragged|

Section 22: furs -- selling\ animals -- number caught\ trapping -- yearly variation\ marten\ furs -- damaged\ fur -- sewing\ trapping|

Section 23: trapping\ beaver\ ?, Claude\ Flat\ dogteam\ travel\ beaver -- lack of\ snow -- lot of\ walk\ Yetna River\ snowshoes\ walk -- route\ walk -- distances\ Iditarod\ Otter Creek\ sled\ dogs\ darkness\ wolves\ wolves -- howling\ camping\ snow trench\ dogs -- scared\ wolves -- sound of\ wolf -- tracks\ sleep\ trapper\ Yetna River -- mouth of\ Shageluk\ brother -- Demientieff, Joe\ trapping\ sled -- pulling|

Section 24: medicine -- traditional\ colds -- treatment\ soup -- hot\ broth\ sick\ diseases\ health\ sick -- prevention\ isolation\ health aides\ grandma -- Luke's mother\ baby -- delivery\ Holy Cross\ volunteering|

Section 25: medicine -- traditional\ colds -- treatment\ mustard plaster\ chest\ Vicks Vapor Rub --use of\ berries -- black currents\ juice -- hot\ peppermint\ milk -- hot \ aspirin\ medicine -- plants\ plants -- Stinkweed\ sores -- treatment of\ oatmeal -- use of|

Section 26: tradition\ language\ dance\ dance -- fiddle\ tradition -- differences\ lifestyle\ elders -- listen to\ potlatches\ kashim\ kashim -- location\ Big Paul\ Paul, Johnny\ foster father\ kids -- not allowed\ white people -- lack of\ dance -- reason for\ dance -- good luck\ fall\ dance -- good fishing\ summer\ father -- messenger\ dogteam\ Shageluk\ invitation\ trail\ welcome -- ceremony\ sled\ kashim -- structure layout\ kashim -- underground\ kashim -- window\ bear -- skin\ doorway\ reindeer\ bear hide\ darkness\ benches\ fire\ vent\ masks -- dance\ mukluks\ dancing\ quiet\ villages -- invitations\ dance -- modern\ Christmas\ roles -- women and men\ gifts -- give away\ changes\ potlatches\ chair\ kashim -- end of\ party\ Demientieff, Leonard -- boy\ dance -- meaning changed\ dance -- end of|

Section 27: potlatch\ Railroad City\ The Point\ Innoko River\ boat -- sternwheeler\ Iditarod River\ freight\ St. Michael\ Yukon River\ river -- narrow\ river -- swift\ flood\ Holy Cross\ flood -- years of\ garden\ cliffs\ Reindeer Lake\ ?, Bruce\ ?, Lance\ islands -- lack of\ travel -- during flood\ smokehouse\ water -- height|

Section 28: hunting -- muskrat\ flood\ canoe -- travel\ lake\ camp\ canoe -- tie up\ feet|

Section 29: Yukon River\ river -- height of\ smokehouse\ boats -- landing\ river -- changes\ boat -- steamship\ boat -- "Nenana"\ barges\ bank -- changes\ Holy Cross Mission\ Brother Ryan\ deadman -- building\ boat -- sternwheeler\ shovels\ picks\ bury\ cable\ digging\ logs\ burial -- waiting for\ deadman -- description of\ Queen Mary\ current -- swift\ deadman -- loss of|

Section 30: chief\ respect\ children -- knew what to do\ respect -- need for\ council -- membership\ elders\ council -- women\ Peters, Axinia\ meeting -- women not allowed\ gossip\ changes|

Section 31: council -- function\ problem -- resolution\ Holy Cross Mission\ Mission -- control\ people -- removal\ land -- ownership\ rules -- strict\ respect\ discipline\ paddle|

Section 32: Bethel\ subsistence\ fishing\ fishing -- drifting\ children\ fish -- hauling\ fish -- king salmon\ mud\ gardening\ garden -- size\ gardening -- hand\ permafrost\ garden -- permafrost\ potatoes\ gardening -- skills\ garden -- harvest\ turnips\ weeds\ tundra\ garden -- location\ frames\ plastic\ cabbage\ cauliflower\ carrots -- not grow\ river\ soil -- silt\ moss -- collecting\ garden -- first in Bethel|