Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Project Jukebox Survey

Help us redesign the Project Jukebox website by taking a very short survey!

Gerald "Jerry" Walker
Jerry Walker

Gerald (Jerry) Walker was interviewed on September 2, 2003 by his life partner, Rita Paul, Debbie Turner from the Holy Cross Tribal Council, and Karen Brewster from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program in Anchorage, Alaska. Jerry was temporarily living in Anchorage at an assisted care facility due to health issues. In this interview, Jerry talks about living at Ghost Creek near the village of Holy Cross, his experiences on the trapline, being a riverboat captain, and other jobs he held around the region. He also discusses potlatches, holiday celebrations, and environmental changes he has observed in his many years on the trapline and on the river. Jerry's declining health prevented him from continuing to trap, hunt, and be on the river like he used to. He speaks of these activities with great fondness.

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


1) His personal background.

2) Going to school at the Holy Cross Mission.

3) Trapping for marten, working with his father on the barge, and his first impressions of Russian pilots that he met in Galena during World War II.

4) Working on and building barges.

5) His parents and his brothers and sisters.

6) Potlatch celebrations in the old days.

7) Holiday celebrations in Holy Cross, and his work experience in Bethel.

8) Life on the trap line.

9) Learning to fly, and the State of Alaska wolf hunting program that he participated in.

10) Changes in the numbers of fur animals during his years of trapping, how the rivers change, and a big barge trip he took with his brother on the Yukon River.

11) Abundance of caribou a long time ago, their decline, and how people used caribou skins.

12) Being with Rita for 20 years, the best way to kill a trapped marten, changes in the food people eat, and muskrat hunting.

13) Learning to trap from his uncle on Eagle Island, and various travels he made on the rivers with barges.

14) Hauling fuel, groceries and mail on the barge, and his barge getting stuck on a sand bar.

15) His marriage, and a barge trip he and Rita took on the Innoko River.

16) The joy of being in the wilderness and living off the land, taking care of his parents, and living at Ghost Creek.

17) How life in Holy Cross has changed, and the value of education and jobs.

18) Various animals he trapped, unique animal behaviors, and weather change.

19) What he is most proud of in his life, and what has been hard in his life.

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: birth date\ Holy Cross\ 1924\ Walker, Jerry -- parents\ father -- Walker, James\ mother -- Walker, Mary Demoski\ father -- Tanana\ mother -- Nulato\ Ghost Creek -- raised at|

Section 2: school\ education\ Holy Cross Mission\ Catholic\ teachers -- nuns\ strict\ discipline\ grade level -- completed\ employment\ father -- worked for\ tug boat\ trapping\ school -- subjects\ school -- quality|

Section 3: trapping\ animals -- number of\ trapping -- marten\ Innoko River\ trapping -- quit\ summer\ job -- barge\ father -- tug boat\ father -- learned from\ Galena\ Air Force -- contract\ oil barrels -- rafting\ Tanana\ Fairbanks\ Nome\ Russia\ World War II\ Russia\ airplanes\ United States\ Germans\ Moscow\ war -- turning point\ Russian -- pilot\ Russian -- first saw\ Russian -- impression of\ currency -- rubles\ cigarettes -- buying\ rubles -- worthless\ Russian -- uniform\ boots\ coat\ pilots -- training|

Section 4: Army -- staff sergeant\ boat -- pilot\ Galena -- stationed at\ Army -- sign up\ father -- contract\ barge\ oil barrels -- rafting\ oil barrels -- drifting\ oil barrels -- hauling\ tow boat\ river channels -- learning\ barrels -- number of\ Tanana\ Nenana\ barge -- running own\ barge -- building\ Holy Cross\ barge -- flipping\ equipment\ tow boat -- Lillian\ barge -- Walker barge\ barge work -- time period\ father -- BIA contract\ fuel -- hauling\ school\ Shageluk\ Holikachuk|

Section 5: parents\ mother -- religious\ father -- laid back\ mother -- attended Mission\ Nulato\ language -- Athabascan\ language -- loss of\ siblings\ father -- marriages\ brothers -- Lawrence, Jim, Ralph, David, Bob\ Kodiak\ Anchorage\ sisters -- Lillian (Murphy), Hazel|

Section 6: potlatch\ elders\ dance\ sing\ practice\ community hall\ potlatch -- long time ago\ Railroad City\ Chief Paul\ Shageluk -- invited\ dog team\ celebration -- multiple days\ dance -- village performance\ night\ gifts\ visitors\ groceries\ caribou skins|

Section 7: holidays\ Christmas\ New Years\ Easter\ holiday -- favorite\ dance -- performance\ dance -- never learned\ partner -- gift exchange\ gifts\ gloves\ boots\ stockings\ Bethel\ job -- construction\ Bethel -- not like\ housing\ windy\ shack -- built\ plywood\ cold\ jobs -- limited\ crew -- number of people\ White Alice Radar Site\ communication system|

Section 8: trapping\ dog team\ brothers\ snow machine\ snowmachine -- delivery of\ barge\ airplane\ trapping -- lonesome\ busy\ chores\ animals -- skinning\ wood -- chopping\ cabin -- making improvements\ wood stove -- heating\ propane burner -- cooking\ marten\ beaver\ marten -- amount of\ trap line -- length of\ travel -- time\ traps -- checking\ trap line -- daily schedule\ Paul, Rita\ work -- hard\ trapping -- started\ trapping -- quit\ airplane\ Holy Cross\ trapline -- location|

Section 9: airplane\ flying -- learning\ McGrath\ Hubbard Air Service\ flying -- solo\ Holy Cross\ airplane -- slow\ hunting -- wolf\ work -- state program\ Turner, Frank -- hunted with\ Iditarod\ Innoko River\ wolf -- bounty\ bounty -- amount of\ wolf -- hide\ dangerous\ hunting -- with airplane\ shooter -- Walker, Jim \ pilot -- Walker, Gerald\ wolf -- numbers killed\ wolf -- population control\ moose -- number of\ wolf control -- allow again\ Iditarod River\ wolf -- howling\ moose -- kill\ wolf -- moose hunting methods|

Section 10: animals -- change in\ animals -- number of\ beaver\ trapping -- beaver\ beaver house\ trapping -- changes in\ martens -- number of\ fur -- price change\ airplane\ gas -- price change\ snow machine\ river -- change\ Yukon River\ Innoko River\ river -- travel\ current\ river -- knowledge of\ brother -- Walker, David\ Russian Mission\ barge -- big\ tug boats\ Holy Cross\ Nulato\ travel -- speed\ equipment -- drilling\ road -- construction\ oil -- drilling\ Turner, Archie\ exploration -- oil\ pipe -- capped\ oil -- lack of\ mine -- abandoned\ barge -- size of|

Section 11: caribou -- location\ Reindeer Lake\ Iditarod River\ caribou -- number of\ moose -- lack of\ moose -- arrival\ Canada\ caribou -- decline\ hunting -- over hunting\ prospectors\ reindeer herding\ reindeer -- decline\ caribou -- hide\ caribou hide -- use of\ caribou hide -- boots\ boots -- sewing\ women|

Section 12: Paul, Rita\ relationship\ trap line -- partner\ cooking\ traps -- checking\ trapping -- marten\ marten -- grabbed boot\ marten -- killing\ killing -- step on\ hunting -- bear\ fall\ hills\ meat -- bear\ meat -- moose\ diet -- changes in\ meat -- hamburger\ bear meat -- taste of\ bear meat -- ribs\ food -- grew up with\ reindeer\ beaver\ rabbit\ fish -- king salmon\ fish -- chum salmon\ geese\ ducks\ spring\ trapping -- muskrat\ lake\ muskrat -- eating\ muskrat -- fur price|

Section 13: Eagle Island\ uncle\ Demoski, Leo\ trapping -- learning\ song -- "Eagle Island Blues"\ song -- fiddle\ language -- Athabascan\ song -- story of\ dances\ Galena\ Ruby\ dancing -- fiddle\ dancing -- popular music\ Koyukok River\ barge\ freight -- hauling\ St. Mary's\ Mountain Village\ Yukon River\ Kotlik\ Huslia\ Attla, Steve\ Tanana\ Nenana|

Section 14: barge\ freight -- hauling\ fuel -- barrels\ groceries\ store -- grocery supply\ Alaska Railroad -- stern wheelers\ sternwheelers -- number of trips\ Nenana\ Holy Cross\ sternwheelers -- main river\ barge\ Shageluk\ Iditarod\ Flat\ mail -- hauling\ father\ gold -- hauling\ gold -- mail sack\ mail sack -- pillow\ memories\ good days\ bad days\ trapping -- bad\ weather -- storms\ barge -- stuck\ sand bar\ barge -- pilot\ Bishop Mountain\ Galena\ Yutana Barge Line\ tugboat\ river -- channel\ rescue -- wait for\ barge -- pull out\ cable -- busted\ cable -- steel|

Section 15: marriage\ children\ Green, Betty (Johnson)\ Nulato\ divorce\ barge\ family\ Paul, Rita\ Innoko River\ Fish and Wildlife Refuge\ trip -- fun\ animals -- lot of\ summer -- high water\ beaver\ beaver -- behavior\ willow|

Section 16: life -- enjoyment of\ life -- on the land\ wilderness\ trapping\ barge\ construction\ parents -- took care of\ trapping -- income\ parents -- lived with\ Ghost Creek\ Holy Cross\ friends -- visiting|

Section 17: Holy Cross -- changes\ drugs -- lack of\ World War II\ drugs -- arrival of\ youth -- lessons to\ education -- value of\ survival -- changed\ trapping -- lack of\ fur -- price down\ job -- value of\ brothers\ Walker, Dave\ job -- barge\ Walker, Jim\ job -- cannery\ retirement|

Section 18: trapping\ trap -- setting\ animals -- attracting\ Eagle Island\ Demoski, Leo\ trapping -- learning\ bait\ snaring -- beaver\ trapping -- marten\ house -- sticks\ bait -- type of\ rabbit\ ptarmigan\ willow grouse\ trapping -- beaver\ Innoko River\ snaring -- how to\ ice -- testing\ beaver -- size of\ trapping -- lack of\ trapping -- wolverine\ trapping -- lynx\ lynx -- price of\ animals -- behavior in traps\ trapped -- chew legs off\ trapping -- mink\ traps -- checking\ trapline -- length of\ winter -- temperature\ cold\ dangerous\ trapping -- solo\ weather -- change in\ temperature -- warmer\ Eagle Island\ weather -- cold spell|

Section 19: Yukon River\ tugboat\ barge\ brother\ Walker, Dave\ responsibility\ trip -- hard work\ stress\ barge -- business\ fuel -- hauling\ contract\ BIA schools\ Holikachuk\ Shageluk\ income\ trapline -- hardship\ trapping -- decline of\ wolf -- control\ trapping -- quit|