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Olinka Vendella Laviissi George
Olinka Vendella Laviissi George

Olinka Vendella Laviissi (Ivanoff) George was interviewed on October 13, 2005 by Louann Rank, Sophie Kasayulie, Marla Statscewich, and Frank Chingliak at the Yupiit School District's "Blue Building" in Akiachak, Alaska. Michele George was also present during the interview. In this interview, Olinka speaks in Yup'ik about about her birthplace of Nunacuaq and living a seasonally-based subsistence lifestyle of fall camp and summer fishing. She mostly discusses parka designs from the Yukon River and Kuskokwim River and uses her own parka for illustration.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2004-07-41

Project: Akiachak - Then and Now
Date of Interview: Oct 13, 2005
Narrator(s): Olinka Vendella Laviissi George
Interviewer(s): Louann Rank, Sophie Kasayulie, Frank Chingliak, Marla Statscewich
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.

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


1) Her birthplace, personal history, moving from the old village of Nunacuaq to Nunapitchak for school and to Akiachak with her marriage to Lott George. (View a historic photo of her family.)

2) Her husband's family making her a parka in the Yukon River style (Ilairutaq) originating from their place of origin. She tells also of the Qulitaq and Qaliq parka styles from the tundra. (View a photo of Olinka and her two daughters wearing Ilairutaq parkas.)

3) How a Yukon River-style parka was passed down through the George family, the family's move from the Yukon River to Akiachak, and their fall camp location on the Kuicaraq.

4) Regional styles of parkas and how they have changed.

5) Memories of her birthplace, Nunacuaq, and how the river and the land there changed over time.

6) When she was a girl living in Nunapitchak, putting up dried whitefish (ulligtaruaq), later salmon fishing in the Kuskokwim River, and the difference in taste between Tundra (Akula) and Kuskokwim whitefish.

7) Meeting her husband, Lott George, at the Moravian Seminary in Bethel, and his early death.

8) The origin of the Kuskokwim area parka style based on the story of Iluvaktuq, a warrior from Kwethluk.

9) The Yukon parka style, details of pattern materials, and her in-laws making a parka.

10) The steps of measuring, fitting, piece cutting and sewing needed to put a parka together. (View a photo of the parka hood.)

11) How her first parka was made by her mother-in-law in the winter of 1952, but this practice is rarely done now, and that some parkas have stories and some do not.

12) How her first parka was Qaliq style with drum design (cauyuq), later in her teens she had the Qulitaq style (square in back), and that parkas made today are not distinguished by area of origin as they used to be. Parkas now are fancier and cultural patterns are not being passed on.

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 date\ maiden name -- Chase\ Nunacuaq -- abandoned\ Nunapitchak -- school\ marriage -- date\ Akiachak -- moved to\ George, Lott -- husband| (View a historic photo of her family.

Section 2: George, Walter -- father-in-law\ parka -- making\ parka -- style\ parka style -- Yukon River (Kuigpak)\ parka -- family made\ parka -- number made\ parkas -- style names\ parkas -- places of origin\ parkas -- descriptions of\ parka style -- Kuskokwim River (Qulitaq)\ parka style -- Tundra (Qaliq)\ Tundra -- Akula\ parka style -- Yukon River (Ilairutaq)\ parka style -- Yukon River (Kuigpak)\ parka style-- passed down\ George, Helena (Alaq'aq)\ Napaskiak\ George, Mary (Nassisaq) -- mother-in-law| (View a photo of Olinka and her two daughters wearing Ilairutaq parkas.)

Section 3: parka -- passed down\ parka style -- Yukon River\ Akiachak\ family -- relocation\ fish -- abundance\ Kuskokwim River -- current\ Yukon River -- current\ George family -- origin\ Yukon River\ tundra\ family name -- change\ fall camp -- Cauneq\ river -- Kuicaraq|

Section 4: parka -- style\ parka style -- recognizing\ family -- origin\ parka style -- ownership\ parka style -- changes\ parka style -- regional\ regional style -- loss of\ parka -- contemporary\ parka -- universal patterns\ pattern -- use of|

Section 5: maiden name -- Chase\ Nunacuaq\ Nunapitchak -- move to\ family -- relocation\ river -- change in\ school -- old\ school -- moved to Kasigluk\ tundra\ Nunacuaq -- change in\ land -- change in\ island\ river -- erosion\ land -- sinking\ earthquake -- effect of\ village -- description of\ creek\ houses -- number of|

Section 6: camps -- moving\ Ivanoff, Henry -- younger brother\ Nunacuaq\ Nunapitchak -- moving to\ Kuskokwim River -- fishing\ fishing -- salmon\ whitefish -- put up\ whitefish -- dried (ulligtaruaq)\ Kuskokwim River fishing -- time period\ Tundra -- whitefish\ whitefish -- taste of\ taste -- differences|

Section 7: husband -- meeting\ George, Lott -- husband\ school -- Bible\ Bethel\ school -- seminary\ seminary -- Moravian\ marriage -- date\ husband -- pastor\ husband -- death|

Section 8: parka style -- origin\ parka -- pattern\ story\ caribou -- fat\ parka -- shoulder\ Iluvaktuq -- warrior\ Kwethluk\ enemy -- captured by\ caribou fat -- eating\ enemy -- escape from\ vomit\ Akiak\ story -- versions of|

Section 9: - mother-in-law\ parka -- fitting\ parka -- sewing\ pattern -- measuring\ parka -- personal fit|

Section 10: parka -- measuring\ parka -- fitting\ parka -- sewing\ parka -- putting together\ parka -- trim\ trim -- making\ parka -- pieces\ pieces --- cutting\ pieces -- qamurat\ fur -- squirrel\ George, Mary N. -- mother-in-law\ fur -- sewing\ fur -- collecting\ materials -- collecting| (View a photo of the parka hood)

Section 11: parka -- sewing\ parka -- mother-in-law\ George, Mary N. -- mother-in-law\ parka -- first\ parkas -- contemporary\ Kinegak -- marriage\ parka -- Kipnuk\ parka -- story\ parka -- family\ parka -- expense\ sewing -- time for|

Section 12: parka -- story\ Nunacuaq\ Igyaraq\ parka -- style\ parka style -- description\ parka style -- Qaliq\ parka -- tundra area\ parka style -- Qulitaq\ parkas -- modern\ parka -- area of origin\ parkas -- fancy\ parka -- pattern\ parka -- pieces\ pieces -- beads\ beads -- use of\ parka -- sewing\ stitching -- hand\ fur -- calfskin\ calfskin -- use of\ fur -- caribou\ pattern -- shoulder portion\ parka -- boy's\ pattern -- use of\ culture -- passing on\ sewing -- finishing|