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Annie Kawagley, Mary Phillip, and Bertha Beaver
Annie Kawagley, Mary Phillip and Bertha Beaver

Annie Kawagley, Mary Phillip and Bertha Beaver are interviewed on November 18, 2004 by William Schneider, Karen Brewster, Louann Rank, and Shawna Williams along with 7th grade students Minnie Kashatok and Lott Egoak at the Akiak School Library in Akiak, Alaska. In this interview, Annie, Mary and Bertha talk about women's roles in Yup'ik life, the subsistence lifestyle at seasonal camps and preparing fish and other traditional foods, raising a family, following traditional values, and working jobs outside of the home. Specifically, Annie discusses her work at the orphanage in Kwethluk, Alaska and as a health aide in Akiak; Mary shares some of her health aide experiences, delivering babies, and the use of traditional medicine; and Bertha (who joined the interview late) talks about coming to Akiak, marriage, the hardships of raising a large family during times of food shortage and starvation, and traditional rules and knowledge. Annie Kawagley was most comfortable speaking Yup'ik, so she speaks in Yup'ik throughout most of the interview and Mary Phillip translates her comments into English.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2004-07-20

Project: Akiak
Date of Interview: Nov 18, 2004
Narrator(s): Annie Kawagley, Mary Phillip, Bertha Beaver
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Karen Brewster, Shawna Williams, Louann Rank
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
U.S. Department of Education, Alaska Native Education, Yupiit School District
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
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1) Mary Phillip talks about delivering babies, learning from a midwife, and use of traditional medicine as part of her work as a health aide.

2) Annie Kawagley talks about working at the orphanage in Kwethluk when she was a girl, coming to Akiak and working as a health aide in Akiak.

3) Annie Kawagley talks about her husband’s work at the Native store, how supplies were brought in, and learning to sew as a young girl.

4) Annie Kawagley talks about working at the orphanage at Kwethluk.

5) Annie Kawagley talks about her children and when she learned to sew.

6) Bertha Beaver joins the interview and talks about her childhood in Kasigluk living with foster parents, learning to sew, and doing other household chores.

7) Bertha Beaver talks about when she came to Akiak and her arranged marriage, and Mary Phillips talks about women’s rules of behavior.

8) Bertha Beaver talks about raising a large family and hardships she had, and all three women talk about hardships, starvation, and getting food.

9) Starvation times of long ago and the importance of having enough food to prevent such hardship.

10) Importance of traditional foods, and ways to store and preserve fish and fish eggs.

11) Their experiences learning how to cut fish.

12) Important things learned from their mothers about being Yup'ik women.

13) Life at spring and fall camp.

14) Important rules for pregnant Yup'ik women.

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: health aide\ childbirth\ training\ midwife\ questions\ Bethel\ birth -- breech\ baby -- turning\ baby turning -- learning\ doctor\ traditions -- not use\ Kawagley, Edith\ people -- caring for\ payment -- lack of\ baby -- not breathing\ Kawagley, Edith -- saved baby\ color of person -- indication of survival\ illness -- tuberculosis\ tuberculosis -- treatment of\ medicine -- lack of\ traditional medicine -- use of\ boil -- treatment of\ razor blade\ doctor -- not tell\ trouble -- fear of|

Section 2: birthplace\ Kwethluk\ work -- children’s home\ orphanage\ Akiak -- coming to\ marriage\ Kawagley, Solomon\ work -- health aide\ Kawagley, Edith\ Guy, Betty\ payment -- lack of\ health work -- learning\ (Yup'ik)\ elders -- learning from|

Section 3: Kawagley, Solomon -- husband\ Kawagley, Solomon -- work\ Native store -- ANICA\ supplies -- arrival of\ supplies -- ordering\ Williams, Joe?\ barge\ supplies -- types of\ sew -- learning to\ fur -- mink\ boots -- baby\ (Yup'ik)\ sewing -- reindeer skin\ (Yup'ik)\ mukluks\ parka|

Section 4: Kwethluk\ work -- children’s home\ fish -- canning\ fish -- processing\ garden\ vegetables -- turnip\ vegetables -- potato\ vegetables -- storage\ children -- number of\ (Yup'ik)\ work -- payment\ payment -- food\ Jackson, Sammy\ workers\ children -- where come from\ orphanage -- church\ Moravian church|

Section 5: Akiak\ children -- number of\ children -- adopted\ Kawagley, Frank\ sewing\ knitting\ mukluks -- first\ mother -- comment on sewing\ sewing -- teaching|

Section 6: (Yup'ik)\ birthplace\ Kasigluk\ mother -- death of\ foster parents\ ?, Helena\ ?, Nick\ women’s role\ sew -- learning to\ old woman -- learning from\ foster parents -- illness\ chores -- help with\ fishing\ wood -- collecting\ foster parents -- care for|

Section 7: Akiak -- coming to\ marriage\ (Yup'ik)\ wedding -- date of\ marriage -- age at\ husband -- older\ marriage -- early\ marriage -- arranged\ marriage -- hardship\ wife -- selection of\ women -- behavior\ crumbs -- clean up\ women -- roles\ women -- rules\ women -- becoming\ women’s work -- working\ Beaver, Nelson -- husband\ Beaver, William? -- father-in-law\ marriage -- cry about\ marriage -- too young|

Section 8: family -- raising\ children -- number of\ grandchildren -- number of\ hardship\ money -- lack of\ hunting -- muskrat\ money -- earn\ fur -- sale of\ beaver\ (Yup'ik)\ travel -- lack of\ children -- caring for\ food -- lack of\ Kawagley, Annie -- sister\ fishing\ girls\ work -- orphanage\ fish -- processing\ starvation\ food -- from the land\ survival\ fish\ money -- importance of\ food -- quantity\ fish -- dry\ fish -- storage\ Phillip, Mary -- father\ trap -- blackfish\ food -- collection of\ starvation -- prevention of|

Section 9: starvation -- old stories\ food -- care of\ food -- respect for\ fish eggs -- preparation of\ fish eggs -- storage of\ fish eggs -- color of\ fish eggs -- eating\ Phillip, Mary -- mother\ (Yup'ik)\ starvation -- story\ stomach -- empty\ youth -- lessons for\ youth -- teaching\ stories -- telling of\ fish -- respect for\ fish -- storage of\ waste -- lack of\ starvation\ fish eggs -- eating\ fish eggs -- storage of\ fish -- preservation\ sun -- protection from\ Phillip, Mary -- mother\ fish -- dead\ fish -- in water\ fish -- eating\ (Yup'ik)|

Section 10: youth -- lessons\ food -- traditional\ food -- from store\ shortage -- future\ food -- Native\ fish\ fish eggs -- storage\ storage -- wood barrels\ spring camp\ food -- buried\ fish -- types of\ fish -- salmon\ fish -- dry\ fish -- frozen\ clams\ fish eggs -- preparation of\ fish eggs -- aging\ fish eggs -- drying\ fish eggs -- buried\ fish eggs -- age of\ fish camp|

Section 11: fish -- cutting\ Phillip, Mary -- mother\ cutting fish -- alone\ Kuiggluaq\ cutting fish -- time of day\ fish net -- checking\ Kiillaraliin River\ cutting fish -- watching\ cutting fish -- help\ fish -- king salmon\ cutting fish -- trying\ mother -- compliment\ cutting fish -- learning\ (Yup'ik)\ Beaver, Bertha -- learning to cut fish\ Kawagley, Annie -- learning to cut fish\ Kawagley, Annie -- mother\ bread -- baking\ first try|

Section 12: women -- roles\ (Yup'ik)\ roles -- knowledge of\ teaching\ mother -- learning from\ skills -- continue to use\ knowledge -- importance of|

Section 13: camp -- spring\ camp -- fall\ camp -- travel to\ camp -- location\ camp -- work\ travel -- dogteam\ children -- bring along\ camp -- activities\ hunting\ fishing\ trapping\ fish -- hooking\ Kwethluk\ Three Step Mountains\ travel -- changes|

Section 14: women -- rules\ women -- pregnant\ (Yup'ik)\ Beaver, Bertha -- pregnancy\ yawning\ voices -- hearing\ food -- rules\ food -- not eat leftovers\ (Yup'ik)|