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Jennie Ahkivgak
Jennie Ahkivgak and Etta Fournier

Jennie Ahkivgak was interviewed on February 12, 2009 by Karen Brewster at Jennie's home in Utqaiġvik, Alaska (formerly Barrow). Jennie's daughter, Etta Fournier, translated between English and Iñupiaq. In this interview, Jennie talks about growing up around Qalġusiḷik, Sagavanirktok River, Napaqsralik (Cross Island) and Tigvaġiaq Island off the Beufort Sea coast, and in the area around what is now known as Prudhoe Bay, and living a traditional subsistence lifestyle where they moved to various locations depending on the season. She mentions her father's ice cellar, other families living in the area, places they traveled to, and what the area was like before oil development. She also talks about owning a Native allotment in the Prudhoe Bay area and what happened to it after the establishment of oil production facilities.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2009-04

Project: Dalton Highway
Date of Interview: Feb 12, 2009
Narrator(s): Jennie Ahkivgak
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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1) Born at Flaxman Island, and her parents' names

2) First memory when she was a baby, and lifestyle they lived and the people who lived in the Prudhoe Bay and Flaxman Island area

3) Living around Qalġusiḷik until she was 21 years old, and death of her father

4) The area supported their large family, her parents predicting the arrival of non-Natives, and how people gathered together at Christmas

5) Her father having an ice cellar in the Sagavanirktok area

6) Being told to mark their ice cellars because they predicted the arrival of non-Natives

7) People living and hunting together at Qalġusiḷik

8) Changes in the Prudhoe Bay area since she was living there, and ownership of a Native allotment

9) Continuing to own and stake her Native allotment, not being paid the same as others, and a place where her father would go to pray

10) Effect of oil development on her allotment and graves in the area

11) Good memories of Christmas feasts

12) Going into the mountains in the summer for hunting and fishing, interacting with Indians, and her father's whaling activity

13) Effects of hunting laws and land use regulations on their lifestyle

14) Her father's use of a traditional trap made with rocks

15) Use of caribou skin clothing

16) Not believing that non-Natives would be coming to the area

17) Moving to Barrow because her mother did not want to continue to live in such an isolated place, and traveling by dogteam to their neighbors to tell them about family deaths

18) Concluding thoughts about her allotment and living in the Prudhoe Bay area, how she met her husband, Herbert Ahkivgak, and her father's boat being removed from Kuparuk

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Section 1: Prudhoe Bay -- pre-oil development\ birthplace -- Flaxman Island\ parents\ father -- hunting\ Ekolook, Willam -- father\ Ekolook, Etta -- mother\ Iñupiaq name\ Point Hope|

Section 2: Prudhoe Bay\ mother -- carrying her\ baby\ lifestyle\ subsistence\ families -- names of\ Nashagnik (Schontz), Lena Mae\ Nashagnik, Henry\ dog team\ Woods, George Kisik\ Griest, Elizabeth\ non-Natives -- lack of\ Ekolook, Issac\ Canada\ land\ river\ ocean\ store\ coffee\ tea\ Smith, Jack\ Foggy Island\ fishing\ summer\ fall\ hunting\ travel\ winter\ ocean -- live by\ seal -- hunting\ trapping\ trading -- fur|

Section 3: caribou\ Piŋu\ Qalġusiḷik\ growing up\ father -- death\ epidemic -- flu\ epidemic -- 1940s\ non-Natives -- lack of\ grandfather\ father -- grave\ Savviuġvik\ Tigvaġiaq Island\ father -- growing up\

Section 4: food -- availability\ hunting area -- quality of\ siblings -- names of\ children -- ten\ babies -- death of\ non-Natives -- prediction about\ non-Natives -- arrival\ house -- sod\ travel -- dog team\ people -- travel\ families\ Christmas\ people -- gathering|

Section 5: travel\ Sagavanirktok River\ father\ ice cellar\ food -- preservation\ Kuparuk\ boat|

Section 6: Prudhoe Bay -- change\ Woods, Abraham\ ice cellar -- marking\ non-Natives\ property -- claim\ Sovalik, Lydia|

Section 7: Barrow -- move to\ people -- remaining\ Woods, George\ Woods, Nannie\ Nigliq\ families -- live together\ Ekolook family\ Qalġusiḷik\ hunting -- partner\ Sovalik, Lydia|

Section 8: Prudhoe Bay -- change\ place -- beauty of\ people -- lack of\ non-Natives -- lack of\ change -- cry about\ growing up\ land -- Native allotment\ Qalġusiḷik\ Piŋu\ Rexford, Delbert\ Ahkivgak, Herbert\ wind -- presence of\ wind -- benefit of\ allotment -- inheritance\ grandchildren|

Section 9: Native allotment\ oil companies\ land -- ownership\ land -- sale\ Qalġusiḷik -- stay at\ allotment -- marking\ non-Natives -- research\ staking -- told not to\ staking -- continued to\ Native allotment -- ownership\ Prudhoe Bay\ oil companies -- relationship with\ payment -- lack of\ Nuiqsut\ money\ anger\ inequity\ cry\ father -- prayer\ alter

Section 10: Native allotment\ oil development\ allotment -- impact to\ graves -- impact to\ family -- burials\ Qalġusiḷik\ river -- mouth\ fish\ caribou\ moose

Section 11: memory\ Christmas\ food -- Iñupiaq\ caribou -- dry meat\ seal -- skin\ moose -- dry meat\ fish -- dried\ Eskimo ice cream|

Section 12: mountains\ summer\ walking\ dogs -- backpack\ Indians -- meeting\ friends\ father\ grandfather -- Indian father\ grandfather -- Inupiaq mother\ relationship\ travel -- route\ food -- dried\ caribou -- hunting\ fishing\ moose -- hunting\ food -- preservation\ ice cellar\ father -- whaling\ Canada\ beluga whales\ bowhead whales|

Section 13: travel\ lifestyle -- hardships\ animals -- hunting\ laws -- game\ game laws -- lack of\ game laws -- challenges of\ land use -- restrictions\ Barrow\ Prudhoe Bay\ Sovalik, Lydia\ travel -- change in\ laws -- effect of|

Section 14: wolves\ wolverine\ trapping\ foxes\ father\ trap -- style\ rocks -- use of\ trap -- Inupiaq name\ trap -- deadfall|

Section 15: clothing\ clothing -- skin\ caribou -- skin\ mother -- sewing\ caribou skins -- summer\ wolf\ wolverine\ lynx\ clothing -- warm\ boots -- waterproof|

Section 16: Prudhoe Bay\ oil development -- impact of\ testimony\ parents\ uncle\ non-Natives -- prediction about\ belief -- lack of\ story -- traditional\ knowledge\ Bible\ missionaries|

Section 17: Barrow -- moving to\ father -- death\ store -- lack of\ mother\ people -- lack of\ hospital\ siblings -- death of\ epidemic -- flu\ isolation\ sadness\ Woods, George\ camp\ travel\ death -- news of\ dog team\ store -- supplies\ gasoline\ flour\ sugar\ dogs -- help from\ spring\ departure\ hunters -- lack of\ food -- supply of\ father -- hunter\ father -- trapper|

Section 18: Native allotment\ travel\ summer\ Tigvaġiaq Island\ Taaqpak\ husband -- meeting\ children\ Barrow -- moving to\ marriage -- 1950\ whaling crew -- Taaqpak\ whale -- last one caught\ Pigniq\ food -- maktak\ boat -- father's\ Kuparuk\ boat -- taken\ notice -- lack of|