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Elsie Iqsak Wassilie, Interview 1
Elsie Wassilie

Elsie Iqsak (Alexie) Wassilie was interviewed on on October 13, 2005 by Marla Statscewich, Louann Rank, Sophie Kasayulie, Frank Chingliak and Mary Frederick at Elsie's home in Akiachak, Alaska. In this interview, Elsie speaks in Yup'ik and English about growing up in Akiak where her father was a reindeer herder, the death of her mother, moving to Akiachak, and becoming a community health aide. She describes her duties as a health aide, training she received, communicating with doctors, delivering babies, using traditional medicine and plants, and dealing with serious injuries and the stress of the job. She also talks about the joys of summer fish camp. View a map of the village of Akiachak, circa 1935, with buildings identified by Elsie Wassillie.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2004-07-43

Project: Akiachak - Then and Now
Date of Interview: Oct 13, 2005
Narrator(s): Elsie Iqsak Wassilie
Interviewer(s): Marla Statscewich, Louann Rank, Sophie Kasayulie, Frank Chingliak People Present: Mary Frederick
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) Her personal history, death of her father, and her move to Akiachak in 1947.

2) Beginning as a Community Health Aide in the 1960's.

3) Daily radio contact with doctors in Bethel, medications and being on call.

4) Her experiences delivering babies, advice from a woman elder, and a traditional dietary practice during pregnancy.

5) Being a health aide in early years and retiring in the 1980's.

6) Summer fish camp evenings after work; a baby’s death related to dehydration, and Elsie’s training afterward.

7) Elsie’s method of giving a shot, and immunizations by the Public Health Nurse.

8) Learning from nurses, her favorite part of being a Community Health Aide, and the use of medicinal plants.

9) Coping with stress as a health aide; dentistry, and the story of one serious injury

10) Her husband’s assistance and her difficulties related to work.

11) Life in Akiak with reindeer herders, her mother’s death, and the family’s move to Akiachak in 1947.

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: birthplace\ birth year\ Akiak\ hospital\ Dr. Myers\ father -- death\ Kasayulie, Tom\ Akiachak -- move to|

Section 2: Akiachak\ health aide -- 1960s\ child delivery -- first\ Frederick, Pauline\ Lomack, Joe\ injections -- children\ doctors -- assisting\ training -- first\ training -- duration\ Bethel|

Section 3: childbirth -- twins\ Kangaluk \ airplane -- arrival\ doctors -- consulting\ radio-- use\ consultation -- frequency\ radio -- location\ clinic -- workplace\ medicines\ health aide -- on-call\ health aide -- schedule\ health aide -- Lomack, Ruth\ Lomack, Ruth -- Kauk’aq\ health aide -- Peter, Filma\ clinic -- move to|

Section 4: Lomack, Joe -- health aide\ elder -- woman\ elder -- advice\ Akiak\ Iqsak\ births -- problem\ mother-in-law -- advice\ pregnancy -- diet\ fish -- eating\ fish part -- culuq\ pregnancy -- traditional belief\ pregnancy -- gender\ food -- prescriptions\ Wassilie, Elsie -- children\ Kinegak, Annie -- pregnancy\ Beaver, Mary Lou --pregnancy\ Lomack, Joe -- eldest daughter|

Section 5: health aide -- quitting\ health aide -- Frederick, Moses\ health aide -- transition\ health aide -- volunteer\ health aide -- salary\ health aide -- training\ Paukan, Andy|

Section 6: fish camp -- evening\ fish camp -- summer\ fish camp -- after work\ Moses, Nellie -- baby\ baby -- sick\ baby -- dehydration\ baby -- injection\ baby -- death\ health aide -- training\ training -- dehydration\ training -- frequency\ Anchorage|

Section 7: injection -- method\ immunization -- Public Health Nurse\ immunization -- children\ forgetfulness\ television|

Section 8: learning -- by helping\ nurses -- assisting\ nurses -- visits frequency\ baby -- sore\ baby -- arm\ medicine -- traditional\ plants -- use of\ wormwood -- qanganaruaq \ wormwood -- preparation of\ antibiotic -- bacitracin\ healing -- wormwood\ wormwood -- use of\ Labrador tea --ayuq \ Labrador tea -- colds\ Labrador tea -- preparation|

Section 9: health aide -- stress\ stress -- response\ work -- continue\ string -- use of\ teeth -- pulling\ Frederick, Mary -- father\ injury -- foot\ George, Walter \ spring camp\ Alexie, Eddie -- Elsie’s brother\ Bethel\ airplane\ radio call\ burn injury -- cook stove\ Itgalek -- Henry, Brian\ clinic -- spend night\ husband -- help from\ health aide -- clinic\ doctor -- advice\ patient -- transport|

Section 10: health aide -- husband\ husband -- housework\ Wassilie, John -- death\ Wassilie, Elsie -- name calling\ health aide -- knowing everyone|

Section 11: Akiak -- life in\ Akiak -- horse\ Akiak -- cow\ non-Natives\ Akiak -- Lapps\ Lapps -- reindeer herding\ boots -- style\ Lapp -- woman\ visiting -- Sunday\ popcorn\ Wassilie, Elsie -- mother\ mother -- death\ uncle -- Kasayulie, Tom\ family -- raising\ child rearing -- responsibility for\ orphans\ Akiachak -- 1947\ Kasayulie, Willie -- Platinum\ Kasayulie, Willie -- marriage\ Kasayulie, Margaret|