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John Napoka, Jr.
John Napoka, Jr.

John Napoka, Jr., along with Richard Phillip, was interviewed on September 23, 2004 by Bill Schneider, Louann Rank, and Freda Alexie in Tuluksak, Alaska. Marla Statscewich was also present during the interview. In this interview, John talks about trapping, traveling on trails in the area, and using a dogteam versus a snowmachine. He also talks about fishing and hunting, the importance of being safe when traveling, and marks trails on a map. Richard Phillip shares some of his own trail use and experiences traveling around the area, including one time when he got lost, and marks trails on the map with John.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2004-07-10

Project: Tuluksak
Date of Interview: Sep 23, 2004
Narrator(s): John Napoka, Jr., Richard Phillip
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Louann Rank, Freda Alexie
People Present: 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) Importance of telling people where you are heading when going out on the land on a snowmachine.

2) Description of John’s trapline.

3) John’s trapline continued.

4) Trapline and dog travel.

5) Dog teams vs. snowmachines and travel on the land in the winter.

6) The trail along the Tuluksak River towards the Nyac Mine and the foothills.

7) Traveling on trails, marking on the map.

8) Travel towards the foothills.

9) Fishing around Kisaralik and at the mouth of the Kuskokwim River.

10) Search and Rescue and Richard Phillip’s story of getting lost.

11) Cut-off points, places where the water doesn’t freeze, and hot springs.

12) Hunting and trapping in the Whitefish Lake area.

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: lake names, hill names -- don’t know/ Tuluksak -- Whitefish Lake area/ trail direction/ Uuravik/ snow machine -- travel/ Bogus Creek/ young people -- tell direction of travel/ people get lost -- Yukon Side/ Tuluksak, Akiak, Akiachak, Nunapichuk/ search party/ man from Akiachak/ Kasigluk/ snow machine -- ran out of gas/ snow machine -- travel long distances|

Section 2: Elaiiq -- Kuicuarak area/ north of Tuluksak/ Kwethluk trees/ close to Yukon/ traplines -- Tuluksak to Yukon/ John’s trapline trail/ dog team travel/ overnight camping/ dog team vs. snowmachine/ Tuluksak/ Gweek River/ Eliaaq River/ Nunapichuk/ old site/ Alirnaq/ Petmigtalelleq River/ trap -- mink, beaver, otters|

Section 3: Tiyarungualek/ trapping area/ Aligunuk/ sod house/ Tiyarungualek-- moss and vegetation/ Tiyaruqs/ Qantaq/ check traplines/ north west of Tuluksak/ Pulaiyaraqs -- dog mushing trails|

Section 4: camping -- trapline trail/ travel by dog teams/ dogs -- travel any conditions/ good leaders -- know trails/ hunters -- Akiachuk, Tuluksak, Akiak/ trails all over/ used 9 strong dogs/ brother taught him to trap -- mink, otter, beaver/ Petmigtalelleq/ first camp -- old spring camp site -- Petmigtalelleq/ Nakirnarpak/ moss grows in a dried lake -- called Uurutalek/ near Petmigtalelleq/ old spring camp -- bend on Petmigtalelleq/ (area near #492)/ Tiyaruqs -- sod house/ second camp/ Qantaq -- third camp/ home -- Tuluksak|

Section 5: comparison -- mushing vs. snowmachine/ dogs -- don’t need gas/ won’t break down/ snow machines -- won’t go alone/ Whitefish route/ traplines near second camp/ sod house -- 1950’s/ dog travel -- Whitefish area/ east to Whitefish lake/ dog teams -- know the trail/ Tuluksak to east of Whitefish lake -- three hours/ old dog mushing trail/ weather conditions -- use marked trails/ travel -- depending on the weather/ trail marked -- tripods/ snowmachine tracks/ Whitefish Lake -- three hours with dogs/ camp at east side of Whitefish Lake/ winter camp -- hunting area/ hunt near foothills|

Section 6: trail -- towards Tuluksak River/ Tuluksak/ Macivik -- portage/ Kepsaraq -- turn off of main trail/ Tuluksak River/ Fog River -- Kiaqliq and Uaqliq/ Lower Landing/ Middle Landing on Tuluksak River/ Kepsaraq -- log cabin/ snow machine trail/ tractor trails up to foothills -- east/ Ungagtuliq/ check trap lines/ return same route/ Kepsaraq -- right fork/ tractor trail -- Nyac miners’ supplies/ 40’s thru 60’s -- Nyac Mine/ beavers/ other winter trails|

Section 7: knowing the trails/ Kepsaraq -- left or right forks/ Middle, Upper and Lower Landing/ Kepsaraq -- short cut/ dangerous areas -- creeks open all year round/ Tuluksak River/ trail avoids dangerous areas/ stay close to main river -- frozen/ rusty water creeks -- open all year round/ Tuluksak to the foothills/ trail to Kuicuaaq/ marking other trails on map/ dog musher -- decides which trail to use/ Macivik Slough/ Little Bogus Creek/ Akiak Trail/ Tuluksak Trail/ old Akiak Village site|

Section 8: Kisaralik tractor trail/ Akiak/ trail to the mountains east/ trail joins -- Akiak and Tuluksak to the mountains along the river/ bigger lakes have names -- not everyone knows them/ winter trails -- obvious in summer/ Akiak Trail/ bluffs/ Tuluksak people -- use Akiak Trail/ 3 hours to foothills by dog team/ 2 hours to foothills by snowmachine/ tractor trail/ miner from Akiak -- kept trail open/ passed away -- trail is now grown over/ (Yup’ik)/ miner -- Canadian/ Speen/ Kavaamee/ tractor trail along the Kisaralik/ Demantle, Joe -- raised Akiak/ trail to Illiamna/ Kisaralik--good fishing/ swift river|

Section 9: Kisaralik area -- hunting, salmon fishing/ Akiak, Akiachak people fish on the Kisaralik/ Tuluksak people go north to Whitefish Lake/ 4000 lbs of whitefish -- fall time fishing/ she fish -- Kuskokwim River/ Uuravik/ king salmon/ sheefish -- to the mouth of the Kuskokwim|

Section 10: Tuluksak -- Bogus area/ know trail based on where someone is traveling/ Whitefish Area/ Tiyaruqs area/ Gweek/ Petmigtalelleq/ Nunapichuk/ direction of travel -- helpful to find overdue person/ GPS -- bad weather affects travel/ Richard -- got lost/ Yukon River/ Tuluksak, Akiak, Akiachak -- Merlluk area/ Pirturtuli -- lake/ Alirnak/ used GPS after several hours/ traveling at night/ Quartuli/ Qantaq/ snow-go tracks|

Section 11: Kepsaraq -- cut-off points off of a river or a trail/ creeks that don’t freeze/ qalleq -- rivers that don’t freeze/ beaver and minerals -- change color of water/ mouth of Macivik Slough -- doesn’t freeze/ Little Bogus -- stays the same color all year round/ creeks near foothills -- clear/ hot springs -- creeks don’t freeze/ reindeer herders -- cook reindeer in hot spring/ Kuigurluq-- towards the hot springs|

Section 12: walk to the foothills -- one day/ Carl and John -- got bread from the skiff/ Kuigurluq River/ beaver dams -- deep water/ left fork of Bogus Creek -- takes you to Whitefish Lake/ Kalskag people -- use the trail in spring/ water is high in spring/ Kuigurluq-- heads to Whitefish Lake/ spring camp site on the trail to Whitefish Lake/ otters/ minks|