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Maranda Nelson

Maranda Nelson was interviewed on May 11, 2011 by Rachel Mason, Karen Brewster, and Shannon Kovac at the Qutekcak Tribal Office in Seward, Alaska. In this interview, Maranda talks about her childhood, the Native community in Seward, race relations, subsistence activities, changes in wildlife populations, and the 1964 Earthquake. She talks about trapping, berry picking, hunting, and skiing in the Exit Glacier area, the road to the glacier, and her thoughts on the establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2010-05-17

Project: Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park
Date of Interview: May 11, 2011
Narrator(s): Maranda Nelson
Interviewer(s): Rachel Mason, Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Carol McCue
People Present: Shannon Kovac
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

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


Personal background

Moving to Seward from Holikachuk

Family background

Being raised by her aunt in Seward

Being a Native kid in Seward and discrimination

Hunting and trapping in the Exit Glacier area

Running a trapline for rabbits

Accessing the trapline with her mother

Berry picking in the Exit Glacier area

Trapping for muskrats

Moose hunting area

Driving to Anchorage

Muskrat trapping in the lake


Duck hunting

Experiencing the 1964 Earthquake

Trapping and use of small game animals


Building of the Exit Glacier Road

End of subsistence activities

Visting Exit Glacier before there was a road

Recreational use of the Exit Glacier area

Changes in the moose population

Collecting shellfish

Changes in the bear population

Other changes in and uses of the area

Effect of establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park

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RACHEL MASON: Hello. This is Rachel Mason, I'm -- we're here with Maranda Nelson in Seward. It's May 11th, 2011, and we're at the Qutekcak office. I'm with Karen Brewster and Shannon Kovac.

KAREN BREWSTER: And this is the Kenai Fjords Exit Glacier Project.

RACHEL MASON: This is the Kenai Fjords Exit Glacier Project.

So Maranda, could you start out by just telling us when you were born -- MARANDA NELSON: Okay.

RACHEL MASON: -- where you were born, and ask you about your earliest days.

MARANDA NELSON: Okay. I was born on the Yukon River,. I was born in Simon Slough by the midwife who delivered all the children in the village.

My village was Blackburn, Alaska, which was Holikachuk, but because of the flooding, spring flooding, they moved our village to Grayling, which was downriver about 15 miles from Holikachuk.

And my family was the last family to leave the village.

My grandfather, Nick Nicholas, was the Chief of the village, and he wanted to stay there as long as he could before everybody moved downriver.

And then I came to Alas -- I came to Seward, Alaska, when I was three and a half years old because my mother had TB.

I had TB, my sister had TB, she died; my two brothers had TB, but we weren't hospitalized, we were just given the INH pills to take,

but my mother had to stay in the TB San for, like, four years, so the people that we rented our house from looked after us.

And then subsequently when my mother got well from TB, she died in a car wreck when I was four years old, and so my aunt, my aunt took me in.

And my older brother was raised in the Jessie Lee Home, and my other brother was adopted by the family that looked after us.

And they moved to Anchorage, and I grew up here in Seward with my aunt, and she had two sons.

And my dad worked for the local engineer company, and my mom worked at Seward Fisheries her whole life.

And we were a Native family that we had the traditional foods that Natives always gather.

We -- my mom and I picked blueberries up at Exit Glacier area.

We also snared rabbits in that area. We had a little rabbit line.

There were beavers up there, but we -- we didn't ever trap beavers because they were too big for us, my mom and I.

RACHEL MASON: Could you go back to -- MARANDA NELSON: Oh, okay. RACHEL MASON: -- where -- when you first moved to Seward, did your dad come to Seward?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, my dad -- RACHEL MASON: -- also?

MARANDA NELSON: -- brought us here from -- from Holikachuk because there was, like, three places in Alaska you could go that they sent the Natives for the TB San, and Seward was the closest one.

But then Anchorage was full, so we couldn't go there, so that's why we came to Seward.

And the other one was in Sitka, Alaska, so -- RACHEL MASON: I see.

MARANDA NELSON: -- and we didn't want to go -- my dad didn't want us to go all the way down there, so...

KAREN BREWSTER: What year was it that you came to Seward?

MARANDA NELSON: Approximately in -- I was born June 27th, 1951; approximately when I was three and a half years old, we -- we moved here to Seward.

RACHEL MASON: So it must have been about '54? KAREN BREWSTER: '54 something.

MARANDA NELSON: The whole village had TB. My mother, her family, the Alexander family, she lost 14 brothers and sisters.

They all died, and she was the only one left of the Alexander family.

And my dad was very concerned, so he had heard that there was -- that the San was really good, and they were very, very good at healing people and getting them well again. So...

KAREN BREWSTER: So what was your dad's family?

MARANDA NELSON: My dad's family was the Nicholas family. My dad was Greg Nicholas, and my mother was Daisy.

And I had a half brother and he stayed in the village, and then I had an older brother, and that was Steve, the one raised in Jessie Lee.

And then I had Greg, and he was adopted by a family. And then my mother had my sister, and she died from TB.

And then she had two other boys, but they were adopted out, and I never knew them. I -- I -- I have met one, but I don't -- I have never met the youngest one, I don't know where he is, I don't know anything about him.

But the second to the last boy, he contacted me and I met him about five years ago.


MARANDA NELSON: So it was strange. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

MARANDA NELSON: That was strange to see that he looked like me. It was --

RACHEL MASON: Was that the first time you'd met him?

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, that was the first time I had met him, and it was -- it was very, very -- what do you call it -- melancholy, whatever, you know, knowing that I had not -- never knew him like I knew my brothers.

So -- and then, of course, my aunt, which was my dad's sister, was the oldest of the Nicholas kids; and besides my dad, there's Aunt Margaret, Uncle James, and Uncle Wilbur, and that's the Nicholas family.

RACHEL MASON: Is your aunt the one who raised you after your mother died?


RACHEL MASON: Okay. And how did she happen to come to Seward?

MARANDA NELSON: She came to Seward because she had left the village and had gone to Fairbanks and worked -- was working at the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital as house cleaner,

and she met my dad there while he was in the -- well, not my real dad, but he was my aunt's husband.

Well, he came up to be in the Army, and they worked on the road, building the road because he was an engineer, operating engineer, he ran cranes.

RACHEL MASON: What was his name?

MARANDA NELSON: His name was Merv Broughton. RACHEL MASON: Okay.

MARANDA NELSON: And my mom was Lucy Broughton. RACHEL MASON: Okay.

MARANDA NELSON: And she's a very well known person because she ran the Seward Icicle Fisheries where she worked there her whole life.

KAREN BREWSTER: So they moved here for his job?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, they moved here for his job.

KAREN BREWSTER: And you refer to them as mom and dad -- MARANDA NELSON: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: -- because that's how you remember them?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes. I saw my dad occasionally, but it was never for long periods of time.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, you were so small.

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, I was so small. And I went to school -- I went to Seward Grade School and then Seward High School.

And my last year of high school, I attended Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and graduated from there.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you're an artist?

MARANDA NELSON: I'm a ceramicist, and that's how I got into the Institute was ceramic work. And drawings.

And so then I graduated from high school and I met and married my first husband, which is -- which was John Barrier (phonetic), and he lived in Fairbanks,and so I left my home here in Seward and moved to Fairbanks.

And I had two children, Jack Barrier and Iris Barrier. And then I divorced him and I moved back to Seward, and I married a local boy here in Seward, Gilbert Nelson, and I became Maranda Nelson.

And then I sat on the Qutekcak Native board for 17 years. I was a board member. And I traveled for the tribe and did promoting of our tribal culture and that's -- that's about -- that's it.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Well, so you -- your early days of school were here in Seward? MARANDA NELSON: Yes. RACHEL MASON: Is that correct? MARANDA NELSON: Yes.

RACHEL MASON: Were there other Native kids in the school?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, there was other Native kids. The Jessie Lee Home, which was the orphanage, which began because of the evacuation of the Aleutian Islands, and so those children lost their parents.

They were -- I think it was -- began in Kodiak, and then they sent them to Seward, so I think that's where -- where it began, and then it ended in Seward. RACHEL MASON: Oh. Interesting.

MARANDA NELSON: So the Jessie Lee Home they had I think a hundred or 200 children there.

And every Sunday I would get to see my brother at church because all of the Jessie Lee kids went to church on Sundays.

And they also had their own school up there, so those kids that were out of town went to a small school up -- up on -- up behind Dairy Hill.

So I didn't see my brother for -- you know, all the time because he -- he went to that school, but then when they shut it down after the war, they shut down that school and incorporated it into the Seward school, so then I saw him all the time.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Well, that's good.

MARANDA NELSON: And occasionally he would come over to the house and spend the night and we'd get to visit each other and -- and that was nice.

RACHEL MASON: Was that your younger brother?

MARANDA NELSON: That was my older brother. My older brother Steve. RACHEL MASON: Okay. MARANDA NELSON: Yes.

RACHEL MASON: Well, at that time was there discrimination against Natives?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, there was. A lot of discrimination in this town.

I grew up with the signs that said "No Natives Allowed" in the stores.

And -- and I got teased at school a lot by the other kids because I was -- I was poor, we were -- we weren't rich.

I was poor, and we did live a subsistence life style.

Mainly we got our moose every fall, and we got salmon during the summer months, and then in the wintertime we did trapping.

My mom and I had a muskrat line that we trapped, and we did that. And we did a lot of subsistence gathering, my mom and I.

RACHEL MASON: Well, maybe you could show us some of the places where you did some of the subsistence hunting and gathering.


RACHEL MASON: Well, I guess starting with the moose, did you go moose hunting in your childhood?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, we did, but mainly we went towards the Hope area.

RACHEL MASON: Oh. Oh, okay. So that was up -- okay.

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah. We didn't go up moose hunting at -- up towards Exit Glacier.

My mom and I only did rabbit snares and small game like ptarmigan. We shot ptarmigan and brought those home.

RACHEL MASON: Can you show us where the rabbit -- rabbits hunting would take place?

MARANDA NELSON: Okay. It was mainly -- because that was -- when I was growing up, that was just a trail.


RACHEL MASON: Oh, the road was just a trail?

MARANDA NELSON: The road -- yeah, the road was just a trail. KAREN BREWSTER: Exit Glacier. RACHEL MASON: The road to go to the Exit Glacier.

KAREN BREWSTER: So was it on the same -- was that trail along the same route that the road is now?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes. Yes, it was. Mainly, yeah.

RACHEL MASON: So did you go along that trail for rabbit MARANDA NELSON: Yes. RACHEL MASON: -- hunting?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, we went along the trail. The road didn't go in until after I was grown up; it was always a trail for us.

So they didn't -- you know, the road only went to, like, where it is now there at, what is that, mile two and a half or whatever road where it meets with that other.


MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, by the Seavey's, yeah. Yeah. So --

RACHEL MASON: So you would -- you would be trapping within that -- MARANDA NELSON: Yes. Yes. RACHEL MASON: -- area? MARANDA NELSON: Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: So -- MARANDA NELSON: It was in that area. RACHEL MASON: Do -- do you want to mark where -- where you got rabbits? Somewhere along -- on -- here's the trail.

KAREN BREWSTER: So was it -- did you go from -- so the road went to, like, Seavey's? MARANDA NELSON: Right.

KAREN BREWSTER: And then from there you went trapping past that?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, past that. So that would --

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Okay. So where is Seavey's from -- MARANDA NELSON: Seavey's is -- well, let me see.

KAREN BREWSTER: Shannon could probably find it. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

SHANNON KOVAC: He's on Old Exit Glacier.

MARANDA NELSON: Old Exit Glacier Road.

RACHEL MASON: I don't even see that.

KAREN BREWSTER: It's not well marked on the map, that's the problem. RACHEL MASON: Is this it here?

KAREN BREWSTER: That's Exit Glacier Road. Wherever the Pit Bar comes out, somewhere -- the road changed.

From what people have told us. Right, Shannon? SHANNON KOVAC: Yeah, it has changed.

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, it's really changed. It was right past Seavey's.

RACHEL MASON: Okay. So maybe right around this area.

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, right around that area.

RACHEL MASON: Okay. Here, I can mark it for you.

MARANDA NELSON: Okay. Yeah, if you want.

KAREN BREWSTER: But you went past, like how far?

MARANDA NELSON: Not very far past that because it was a trail, and be -- you know, you had to be careful not to disturb the moose or get trampled by them because there was quite a bit of moose in that area at that time.

KAREN BREWSTER: Has that changed?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, it has changed. It's changed quite a bit.

The whole area of that has changed, so just -- when I was growing up, it was just a trail, so --

KAREN BREWSTER: Why do you think the moose population has changed?

MARANDA NELSON: I think that they were hunted out, and that was the reason why. They were just hunted out.

RACHEL MASON: And what about ptarmigan? Did you get them in the same area?

MARANDA NELSON: Well, we got those mainly up a little bit further -- RACHEL MASON: Okay. MARANDA NELSON: -- into the park. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: Maybe Maranda can mark it. RACHEL MASON: Okay. KAREN BREWSTER: You can -- you can --

RACHEL MASON: I can point to the place where -- would it be up fur -- up this way?

MARANDA NELSON: It would be -- yeah. It would be not where the -- where we set our snares for rabbits RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. MARANDA NELSON: -- but it would be past that area. On this side.

RACHEL MASON: Could you mark there whereabouts -- MARANDA NELSON: Okay. RACHEL MASON: -- it might have been.

MARANDA NELSON: This is the glacier right here, or -- RACHEL MASON: This is the glacier way up here.

KAREN BREWSTER: And that's where the bridge is, right there.

MARANDA NELSON: Oh, okay. Yeah, because it wouldn't be -- it wouldn't be way up there, it would be closer. Yeah. It would be about here RACHEL MASON: Okay. MARANDA NELSON: -- I'd say.

RACHEL MASON: Okay. I'll write "ptarmigan" on that. MARANDA NELSON: Okay.

RACHEL MASON: Where did your mom have her trap line?

MARANDA NELSON: She had it off the trail and -- RACHEL MASON: Off the trail up to the glacier? MARANDA NELSON: Yeah. Off the trail up to the glacier.

KAREN BREWSTER: How far? So from where the end of the road goes? MARANDA NELSON: From the end of where the -- KAREN BREWSTER: The trail? MARANDA NELSON: Yeah. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So yeah, how long of a -- if you went to where Seavey's is, that was the end of the road?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, that was the end of the road.

KAREN BREWSTER: So then that started the trail. And then how far out along the trail would you go for setting --

MARANDA NELSON: Oh, I would say about a mile, mile and a half. About a mile. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Okay. So that might have been around here or so? MARANDA NELSON: Right. Around there.

RACHEL MASON: And was it off the trail? MARANDA NELSON: Yes, it was off the trail.

RACHEL MASON: Between the trail and the river? MARANDA NELSON: Uh hum. RACHEL MASON: Okay. MARANDA NELSON: Between the trail and the river.

RACHEL MASON: So it started here. Maybe if you could mark approximately where the trap line was, if it started there. MARANDA NELSON: Okay. Well, right here, I would -- I would think.

RACHEL MASON: Okay. So it went from here to here? MARANDA NELSON: Yeah. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Okay. And tell us a little bit more about the trapping. How long did you let the traps set before you trapped it again?

MARANDA NELSON: Just a -- just a day because otherwise, if we caught something in the trap that other animals would get it. Weasels or -- or other animals would come along.

RACHEL MASON: Were you just trapping muskrat or -- KAREN BREWSTER: This is rabbits. MARANDA NELSON: Rabbits. RACHEL MASON: Oh, rabbits. MARANDA NELSON: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: Rabbits.

KAREN BREWSTER: We haven't got to the muskrats yet. RACHEL MASON: Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: What -- what time of year would you have that trap line?

MARANDA NELSON: Oh, in the winter. Yeah. In the winter because that's when my mother didn't work every day,

because in the summers and springs, she was working every day at the cannery. So --

RACHEL MASON: How many rabbits would you catch that way?

MARANDA NELSON: We would catch usually in a 24 hour period, we'd usually catch about five or six.

KAREN BREWSTER: And how many traps did you set out?

MARANDA NELSON: We usually set about eight.

So like you said, we didn't want to let the animal lay there or stay there very long because other things would get it.

RACHEL MASON: Did you use something for bait?

MARANDA NELSON: No. We just made this snare, and so they would come through it and it would -- it would catch them.

RACHEL MASON: Wow. MARANDA NELSON: Yeah. So... KAREN BREWSTER: Tell us how you made that. Is that a traditional kind of snare?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, it's just a traditional, when they go in there, it just -- the line just goes around them.

KAREN BREWSTER: So what was it made out of?

MARANDA NELSON: It was made out of wire and wood, and just very simple, simple -- simply made.

RACHEL MASON: What would make them want to go in there?

MARANDA NELSON: They would just be hopping along and it would be -- you could see from the prints in the trail where they are -- where they usually hung out. And so they would just hop into it.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you hung it off the bushes that they were --

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, you had to set it up by a bush to catch the rabbits, yes. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. RACHEL MASON: Wow.

SHANNON KOVAC: Maranda, how did you get up there? Was that snowshoes or were you skiing?

MARANDA NELSON: Snowshoes, yes. My mother learned how to drive, but she wasn't very good, so it was always a real adventure to go with her anyplace.

So consequently, I never usually drove with her anyplace because she was such a bad driver.

RACHEL MASON: That's pretty funny.

MARANDA NELSON: She couldn't hardly back up and we'd be sitting there getting stuck or something. So she -- yeah, she was not a good driver at all. It was pretty scary with her most of the time.

RACHEL MASON: Was it just you and your mom that went out?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, it was just me and my mom. Yeah. Yeah. Because my dad was working a lot. He worked on the road from Seward to Anchorage, and then from Seward to Kenai, he worked on both spurs of the road.


MARANDA NELSON: And then my -- my real dad worked for the Alaska Railroad, and so I was able to travel on the Alaska Railroad any time I wanted to free.

So I -- I used that and went to Fairbanks, and that's where I met my husband when I was -- when I graduated from high school.

RACHEL MASON: I see. Well, how did you catch the ptarmigan?

MARANDA NELSON: Oh. We shot them. RACHEL MASON: You shot them? MARANDA NELSON: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: And that was you and your mom also?

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, me and my mom. My mom and I.

RACHEL MASON: Was that in the same time of year that you would be getting the rabbits?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Mainly that -- RACHEL MASON: Okay. MARANDA NELSON: -- in the wintertime. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And you said you got out there by snowshoe? MARANDA NELSON: Uh hum. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So would she drive to the end of the road.

MARANDA NELSON: Right. She would drive to the end of the road, and of course, we knew everybody out there, so we knew if we got in trouble or anything, we could just walk to somebody's cabin that were -- were on Old Exit Glacier Road.

KAREN BREWSTER: Who was living out there then?

MARANDA NELSON: Let me see. There was about four families. I think there were about four families that lived out there.

KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember their names?

MARANDA NELSON: I can't really remember their names. The Generals family, and he was a local doctor, Dr. Generals.

And -- and my dad had some buddies that lived out there, but I can't remember who -- their names right now. So --

RACHEL MASON: Did you ever go berry picking along there, too?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, we did. We went berry picking up off of the river that --

river just before you go to the park, there's a river right there where it crosses the road, and we'd go up that trail.

RACHEL MASON: You mean where the -- there's a bridge across before you get to the park? MARANDA NELSON: Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: And then there's a -- oh, there is a trail there.

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, that one bridge, and yeah, and that one -- that one trail there. RACHEL MASON: There's a trail here.

MARANDA NELSON: That's the trail we'd go up, and -- up in that area we'd pick berries.

RACHEL MASON: Okay. Could you mark where you'd get berries, or just generally where.

MARANDA NELSON: Okay. Along this trail. We wouldn't go very far, about right here, I'd say.

We did most of our berry picking though up by Lost Lake Trail. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. And that's up here. MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, about --

KAREN BREWSTER: That's Lost Lake, so that's the trail.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. Can you mark on here where you'd get them around there?

MARANDA NELSON: Not far from where the parking lot is now.

KAREN BREWSTER: With berries, you can't tell us exactly because those are secrets. RACHEL MASON: Well, they probably aren't there anymore.

KAREN BREWSTER: I'm an avid berry picker, I don't tell people where I pick.

RACHEL MASON: Here's the parking lot, here. Yeah, you don't want everybody on the Internet is seeing this.

MARANDA NELSON: So that's about, you know, just about a half mile up here. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah. Along the side of the ridge there.

KAREN BREWSTER: And what kind of berries were you picking?

MARANDA NELSON: High bush blueberries. And then let's see. Let's see.

And out at Mile 14 is where we had our muskrat traps, on that lake, that little lake that you'd come around the corner, it's on this side, but they built a little observatory there, or a walk, a boardwalk.

I'm not sure what that lake is called.

KAREN BREWSTER: I've seen that boardwalk observatory -- MARANDA NELSON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- driving in.

RACHEL MASON: Oh yeah. Is this -- would it be around here?

MARANDA NELSON: It's right off the road. RACHEL MASON: Oh, just a little --

MARANDA NELSON: It's right parallel to it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, there's a lake right there. Isn't Bear Lake at, like, Mile 7?

MARANDA NELSON: Bear Lake's at Mile 7. KAREN BREWSTER: That might not be -- RACHEL MASON: So this might be at Mile 14? MARANDA NELSON: Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: So I'm just going to write Mile 14, berry. And what kind of berries were they?

MARANDA NELSON: They were high bush blueberries.

RACHEL MASON: And was that the same kind as that you'd get at Lost Lake, too? MARANDA NELSON: Yes. It was the same kind.

KAREN BREWSTER: Wasn't this lake -- didn't you say this was your muskrat? MARANDA NELSON: Yes. The muskrat, our muskrat. KAREN BREWSTER: Mile 14. MARANDA NELSON: Our muskrat line. KAREN BREWSTER: With the blueberries.

RACHEL MASON: Where did you start the muskrat line? Was it near this lake?

MARANDA NELSON: It was in the lake, yeah. RACHEL MASON: Oh. MARANDA NELSON: So we actually were in the lake. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. MARANDA NELSON: Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Do you want to mark that, too? Interesting.

KAREN BREWSTER: So just for clarification -- MARANDA NELSON: And then --

KAREN BREWSTER: Just for clarification, this lake where the muskrat was, did you also go berry picking there?

MARANDA NELSON: No. No. We did not. We may have picked some cranberries, if there were cranberries around that area, because that was cranberry country.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. How did you start --

MARANDA NELSON: Let me see this. Where's the railroad? RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARANDA NELSON: The railroad by Snow River. KAREN BREWSTER: Up here. Here's Snowy River. RACHEL MASON: Oh, here. Here's the railroad it goes along the --

MARANDA NELSON: Okay. Because we hunted moose along the area here where the railroad was RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. Can you -- MARANDA NELSON: -- by Snow River.

RACHEL MASON: Can you draw a circle generally over where you'd -- MARANDA NELSON: This is right here -- RACHEL MASON: Snow River. MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, Snow River.

KAREN BREWSTER: This is where Snow River comes to the lake, so this is all Snow River here. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. Here's Snow River. MARANDA NELSON: Up there. KAREN BREWSTER: And it goes up there.

MARANDA NELSON: Okay. This would be -- this would be this area right in here. RACHEL MASON: Okay. MARANDA NELSON: This area right in here.

RACHEL MASON: Okay. Could you just draw a circle around the area. MARANDA NELSON: Okay.

RACHEL MASON: Okay. For moose hunting. Was that a good place -- MARANDA NELSON: Yes. RACHEL MASON: -- to get moose?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, it was. It seemed like that area was where the moose went by the dry beds when the water wasn't quite as high.


RACHEL MASON: And who in your family went moose hunting?

MARANDA NELSON: All of us. My two cousins, which I call my brothers, Butch and Ronnie, and my dad, if he was home, but he -- my dad was -- was working quite a bit, and all his jobs were out of town;

so consequently, I didn't see much of him when I was growing up because he was always working on -- on projects throughout the state.

But if my mom had time off, we would usually meet my dad in Anchorage when he had his days off, if he was working in that area up there.

But, yeah, I remember when the road was a dirt road from Seward to Anchorage, and it was -- oh, it was horrible to have to travel it.

And it was a long and bumpy, and it was just a real chore to have to go on that road -- RACHEL MASON: Yeah. MARANDA NELSON: -- to go to Anchorage.

RACHEL MASON: Did you have to go very often?

MARANDA NELSON: We did because my dad -- because my dad worked out of town. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARANDA NELSON: So there weren't that many projects here in Seward for him to do, so --

KAREN BREWSTER: You didn't take the train, you took the road?

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah. Yeah, we took the road. No.

No, we didn't -- we never traveled as a family on the train. I don't know why, but we never did.

KAREN BREWSTER: Let me go back to musk ox -- not musk ox, muskrats. Tell us about catching muskrat.

MARANDA NELSON: My mom and I would have this little -- like a little boat just big enough for the two of us, and then we'd set our traps in the lake.

And at that time, there was lots of muskrat out there; but now, of course, they're all gone.

I think they're coming back, though, but we -- we trapped a lot of muskrat from that area.

And my mom and I got the hides and cleaned them and stretched them and then we sold them to the furrier man.

My mom -- my mother did. I didn't do that, but --

RACHEL MASON: Was there a furrier here in Seward that bought them?

MARANDA NELSON: He came down, I believe, from Anchorage and bought them, so I don't think he was right here in Seward, so --

KAREN BREWSTER: And what season would you go do that?

MARANDA NELSON: We'd do it just before freeze up, and so that would be late fall, that area, when the muskrats's pelts were their -- their best before they started the long winter.

KAREN BREWSTER: And did you eat the muskrat meat?

MARANDA NELSON: No. Huh uh. We didn't eat the meat. No.

KAREN BREWSTER: I didn't know if anybody ever did. I've never heard of people eating muskrat.

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah. No, huh uh, no.

RACHEL MASON: Did you do any other kind of hunting? Like sheep or goat or anything?

MARANDA NELSON: No. Because that would -- my mother and I, we didn't -- she didn't like to go up high or climb or get -- she liked the area where it was mainly flat.

RACHEL MASON: What about fishing?

MARANDA NELSON: Fishing, we did a lot of fishing.


MARANDA NELSON: Well, because my mother worked at the cannery, she had access to all of the -- the -- whatever the fishermen brought in, we also got what they brought in:

Halibut, crab, shrimp, scallops, the whole -- all of the fisheries, the salmons.

All of that she brought home. And my mother had a little smokehouse and we smoked the salmon, made strips the traditional way that we -- that the people along the Yukon River did.

And yeah. It was -- it was very busy, my childhood was a very busy childhood.

Besides going to school, we did these other activities, so we were very busy, very industrious.

RACHEL MASON: Did you ever do any of your own salmon fishing, or did you -- could you rely on --

MARANDA NELSON: Oh, yeah, we did. We went out in the bay in our little boat, right out here.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. In Resurrection Bay?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, just right, you know, between Lowell Point and -- you know, between Lowell Point and here.


MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, right in this area. RACHEL MASON: Can you mark that with the salmon?

MARANDA NELSON: This is the salmon area right here. RACHEL MASON: Okay.

MARANDA NELSON: Mainly in this area.

KAREN BREWSTER: Did you get all kinds of salmon or a specific variety?

MARANDA NELSON: Mainly we got silvers. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Did you ever fish for any other kind of fish out there in the bay?

MARANDA NELSON: We did get cod and we always fished the herring when they came in the spring, we --

because my mother liked the herring eggs, but I wasn't too crazy about them, but we did, we gathered them.

RACHEL MASON: Did you get them in the same there? MARANDA NELSON: Salmon. Yeah, we got them by -- between Lowell Point and Tonsina Point. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.

MARANDA NELSON: So this is herring. Of course, they're not there now, they don't come in as much. RACHEL MASON: Did they used to come on --

MARANDA NELSON: They came right up to the dock at the Small Boat Harbor.

So I spent a lot of time jigging for them down at the Small Boat Harbor in the -- in the Small Boat Harbor. RACHEL MASON: Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: You'd just stand on shore and --

MARANDA NELSON: Uh huh. Yeah. Just --

RACHEL MASON: That was for herring?

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah. And that was for herring.

KAREN BREWSTER: What about ducks, duck hunting? Did you guys ever go duck hunting?

MARANDA NELSON: My brothers did those -- that. My mom and I didn't do --

occasionally, if one was close by, but mainly, no, my brothers did the duck hunting.

RACHEL MASON: Do you know where they went to get ducks?

MARANDA NELSON: I'm not sure. I guess at the head of the bay, I would assume that's where they would be,

because that's where the ducks all were, up here at the head of the bay. Because there was -- back then, there was a road that went right across because people lived over in that area.

I think there was about seven families that lived over there. And then they were washed out by the earthquake. So they were -- their homes were washed away.

RACHEL MASON: What -- what happened to your family's home during the earthquake?

MARANDA NELSON: My family's home, I grew up in that little house right across the alley, right down the street here.


MARANDA NELSON: On Second, yeah. And our house wasn't affected by the quake, other than when the quake came, my dad and mom got us -- took us in the car, and we were able to go up and we stayed with a family up on Dairy Hill.

And then they allowed us to come back because the tidal wave was mainly -- it went to the head of the bay.

When the earthquake was, I -- I was right here in our house, and I looked down there and that cannery that was where the cannery is right now, it was washed away.

And then I saw the big -- all the water in the bay was sucked up into a great big wall of water, and then it went that way.

And I was able to see the main tidal wave, and that was pretty awesome.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. How old were you then?


MARANDA NELSON: And -- yep. Our house wasn't -- other -- anything wrong other than, you know, we lost food and lost electricity and everything because our freezers were down, but lost the food.

Other than that, it was -- everything was still there, so --

KAREN BREWSTER: Can you talk about what that felt like when that quake hit?

MARANDA NELSON: It -- it was like -- it was like a rolling -- it was like a rolling thing.

And it was -- it was really strange because the ground was sort of like cracking open in places,

and it was -- because we lived right in town there, right over here was the oil, the Standard Oil place, Chevron,

and they had their tanks right there and everything, and those started a big fire. And so then it was, like, a big fire area there.

But other than -- and my brothers worked at cleaning up when they had the cleanup of the quake. And I don't -- because I was only 13, I didn't do too much.

KAREN BREWSTER: Certainly old enough to remember it.

MARANDA NELSON: Oh, yes. Yes. I think for us, it was just glad that we didn't have to go to school. So that was a plus.

RACHEL MASON: Was there a shortage of food or water afterwards?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, there was, but they brought in supplies, the National Guard came to Seward and they were -- they were stationed throughout the town, and they helped with supplies, and so we were able to get water.

And, of course, we didn't have any electricity or anything, so it was -- it was sort of -- it was really -- it was before they got everything back on line again, the water -- the water and sewer, and we had to pack stuff, you know.

RACHEL MASON: What about the cannery where your mom worked? Was that affected?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, it was. It was affected. I really can't remember what -- how that -- what took place. I don't know. I'm not sure, but --

KAREN BREWSTER: I want to get us back to Exit Glacier area. MARANDA NELSON: Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: You mentioned catching rabbits up that trail. What about other, you know, mink, marten, anything else like that around there?

MARANDA NELSON: My mother really didn't want to mess around with those because they were so small, and she didn't like having to --

and we didn't really have any use for the furs or anything from -- from mink or weasels or anything like that.

RACHEL MASON: Did you use the furs from the rabbits?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, we did. We did. We used the furs from the rabbits for ruffs around our gloves and -- what else did we use them for.

Ruffs around our moccasins. That was just -- that was just about it. My --

RACHEL MASON: What about beaver? Did you ever trap any of them?

MARANDA NELSON: My mother, because she worked at the cannery, she didn't bead at all, so I grew up --

I didn't -- I don't bead and I -- she never beaded. And so -- but we did get beaded things from our village.

They would send us salmon strips from the Yukon, the king salmon strips, they would send us every year;

and they would send us things that they made, like the little -- the slippers and the gloves, and traditional with the beading. But my mom never -- she never beaded at all.

RACHEL MASON: Well, I was actually asking about beaver.


RACHEL MASON: But , that's a very interesting answer.

MARANDA NELSON: Oh. Well, we never -- we never -- we never -- I think maybe once or twice we got a beaver, but we weren't -- my mom was not into it.


MARANDA NELSON: Once or twice we may have gotten one, but that was -- it was not what we did.

KAREN BREWSTER: Basically, what age were you when you were doing all this with your mom?

MARANDA NELSON: I was usually -- I was -- this was before I -- 10, about, you know, between 7, 8, 9, 10, those years.

And then after that, I was going to school and other activities with school.

And I was a runner, so I would run the Mount Marathon race every -- every summer with the other young kids. It was something to do. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Do you remember when they first built the road there going up to the glacier?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, I do. I remember that. And it was -- it seemed strange to me at the time that anybody would be interested in looking at a glacier because I've looked at it all my life, so it was a --

it seemed like a strange thing to me that they were -- they wanted to access that area.


MARANDA NELSON: But it was amazing the amount of people that came to -- to go look at that glacier. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. MARANDA NELSON: But, yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Well, did that interfere with you or your mother's activities here?

MARANDA NELSON: No, because it was pre- -- before they started the actual trail, the building of that road. It was pretty --

KAREN BREWSTER: So by the time the road came in, you'd already stopped doing it?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, we'd already stopped doing it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember when Herman Leirer started the road on the other side of the river?

MARANDA NELSON: No, I don't. I don't remember Herman Leirer doing that, but I know that everybody talks about he was pushing that.

And that would seem like something he would do. But --

KAREN BREWSTER: What was he like?

MARANDA NELSON: He was old. To me, he seemed old, but he was friendly. He was a very friendly man.

And of course, he picked up our garbage, so it was -- yeah, we just -- we didn't socialize with him, but, yeah.

RACHEL MASON: I was wondering if he came into any opposition when he wanted to build the road, if there was some people that were against it and discouraged him from it?

MARANDA NELSON: I'm not really sure about the political part of that.

All I know is that I, as Chugiak corporational shareholder, that we are a landless corporation because all of our lands was within the Chugiak region, it is all for the park, so my corporation is landless.

We've got a few pieces up Snowy River. We have a few pieces out by Aialik that belong to my Native corporation,

but other than that, I don't know anything about that.

RACHEL MASON: Did your mom keep doing some of these traditional activities, even after you went to school?

MARANDA NELSON: No, she didn't.

RACHEL MASON: She pretty much quit?

MARANDA NELSON: She was just pretty much, when the kids grew up, then there was -- we didn't have to worry as much about getting Native food because then we started eating the food that was available here --

RACHEL MASON: Right. MARANDA NELSON: -- at the stores and so then -- yeah.

Other than our traditional moose and fish gathering that I grew up on.

So I think when I was 12, we got our first TV, so I didn't grow up watching TV or anything.

All my time was spent outdoors playing with the other kids.

Because in my -- that area, this area here, this neighborhood, there must have been about 30 kids in this area because each family had about 4 or 5 kids, so it was a lot of kids around then, growing up here in Seward.

KAREN BREWSTER: Before the road was put in, did you ever go all the way up to Exit Glacier? Had you seen it?

MARANDA NELSON: I had seen it, but we'd never -- did it as a family thing or anything. No, we didn't go out there to --

KAREN BREWSTER: What -- what made you go all the way out there and how did you get there?

MARANDA NELSON: Other than just the trail, we didn't go out there other than just to get --

RACHEL MASON: Just for the berries?


RACHEL MASON: And what kind of berries were those? I see I didn't write down what.

KAREN BREWSTER: Those were high bush blueberries. RACHEL MASON: High bush blueberries.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, but before -- that blueberry picking, was that after the road was in or before the road was in?

MARANDA NELSON: Before the road was in.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you hiked all the way up the trail?

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, yeah, we did, my mom and I.

KAREN BREWSTER: Because, yeah, I wondered how much people went all the way there before there was a road.

MARANDA NELSON: I don't think there was a lot of people that went all the way up to the glacier area,

other than maybe if they were hunting black bear, because there's a lot of black bear in that area.

RACHEL MASON: Oh. I'm going to write that down, too.

MARANDA NELSON: But we never -- my mother didn't like black bear, so we never hunted them. We never hunted bears.

KAREN BREWSTER: And then now as an adult, what about recreationally? Do you go up and use that area?

MARANDA NELSON: Oh, yes, I cross country ski up there every winter, in the wintertime,

and I think it's nice that they keep the snow machiners out of that area, so --

KAREN BREWSTER: So where did you cross country ski? On the road or did you go up to --

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, on the road.

RACHEL MASON: Just all along here? MARANDA NELSON: Yes, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Because the road is open to snow machiners.

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, it is now, but it wasn't for the longest time, which was nice.

RACHEL MASON: Do you remember it being more extensive, the glacier being bigger when you were a little girl?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, it was. It was nearer. It was -- it was closer, yeah. Yeah. It's really receded a lot.

I mean, when I was an adult and really looking at it, yeah, I was going, what? Wow, this is -- this is really strange. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. MARANDA NELSON: So --

RACHEL MASON: Did you ever go on the glacier or know anybody that did?

MARANDA NELSON: Other than if we were in a small plane, perhaps if we were spotting for moose or something.

Other than that, no, I don't remember going on the glacier.

KAREN BREWSTER: You know in the '70s they had that snow machine tourism venture?

MARANDA NELSON: I never went on that.

KAREN BREWSTER: You never went on that? MARANDA NELSON: No.

RACHEL MASON: That wasn't your thing? MARANDA NELSON: No, it wasn't my thing.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, yeah, I was wondering, with cross country skiing, if people ski out on the river or you just stay on the road?

MARANDA NELSON: Just stay on the road. On the trail. Yeah. Yeah. Just stay on the trail.

And, of course, there's still moose out there, so we still have to watch out for them. But --

RACHEL MASON: Does it seem like there's more moose than there used to be or fewer?

MARANDA NELSON: Fewer. I mean, when I was growing up, there was moose everywhere. I mean, you couldn't -- couldn't hardly go anyplace outside of town without running into them.

They were all over the place, but yeah. Yeah. There's considerably less moose now.

RACHEL MASON: Why do you think they declined?

MARANDA NELSON: I think because people harvest them, and I'm sure that simply for the Fish and Game had all their rules.

RACHEL MASON: Oh, I forgot to ask if you ever did any -- gathered any shellfish or clams or things like that?

MARANDA NELSON: Oh, yes, we gathered clams at the head of the bay before the earthquake because after the earthquake, all that area sunk. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARANDA NELSON: See, it was before, there was good clam down there.

RACHEL MASON: Could you indicate about where it was that you got clams?

MARANDA NELSON: Okay. On this side of the river, right about here. RACHEL MASON: Oh. MARANDA NELSON: Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: And you could walk out there?

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, you could walk out there. Yeah. You could walk out there.

RACHEL MASON: And any other kind of shellfish, like mussels or anything else?

MARANDA NELSON: My mother didn't eat mussels -- RACHEL MASON: Oh.

MARANDA NELSON: -- so consequently, I never had mussels, but just regular cockles. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Did you get them in the same place? MARANDA NELSON: Yes. RACHEL MASON: Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: What about the bear population? How have you seen that, both black bear and brown bear, have you seen changes since you were a kid?

MARANDA NELSON: Well, when I was a kid, I never saw any brown bear in this area. It's only as an adult that I've seen brown bear here.

So it was mainly black bear when I was -- when I was growing up in this area.

KAREN BREWSTER: And do you think the numbers have changed?

MARANDA NELSON: I don't think they've changed that much. I don't think they've changed that much.

There's still quite a bit of black bear around.

KAREN BREWSTER: Have you thought about why the brown bear have started to come around?

MARANDA NELSON: I guess because there's -- I guess because they want to access the salmon streams. That's my guess. But, I don't know.

RACHEL MASON: Any other populations -- changes of animals that you've noticed?

MARANDA NELSON: Well, we did a lot of hooligan fishing at the -- off these streams, too. RACHEL MASON: Uh hum.

MARANDA NELSON: We did hooligan harvesting in the spring. Other than that, I can't think of anything else, no.

KAREN BREWSTER: And now as an adult, do you go out and do hiking out in the valley or around the glacier or -- r?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, as an adult, I do. I hike those trails and enjoy that area very much because it's easy to get to. And yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Do you still go berry picking up there?

MARANDA NELSON: Yes, I still go berry picking. Yes, I do. So -- RACHEL MASON: Okay.

MARANDA NELSON: I don't know what else I can say.

RACHEL MASON: Well, let's see. When the park was established, when it became a national park, that would have been in 1980, did that interfere with any of your subsistence activities?

MARANDA NELSON: Well, I graduated from high school in 1970, and then I got married right after I graduated and I moved to Fairbanks, so I wasn't really around that much.

I mean, I came home every -- RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

MARANDA NELSON: -- every 4th of July or Christmas, and all the holidays I came home to visit my family.

But no, I don't remember much about that area then because I was busy with my family. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

MARANDA NELSON: And plus, I didn't live here because I lived in Fairbanks 10 years. RACHEL MASON: I see.

MARANDA NELSON: And then prior to Fairbanks, we moved to Anchorage, and then my children grew up in Anchorage, and so --

RACHEL MASON: Shannon, do you have any other questions that you'd like to ask?

SHANNON KOVAC: Just what kind of clams were they?

MARANDA NELSON: They were cockles mainly. SHANNON KOVAC: Cockles.

MARANDA NELSON: Yeah, mainly cockles.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I've wondered how people in Seward feel about the park coming in? If that changed things for people?

Did your mom ever talk about it? Your dad? Brothers?

MARANDA NELSON: My mother wasn't -- not so much, no. No. They didn't have a say one way or the other about the park coming in and making that --

KAREN BREWSTER: What about now, what do you think about it?

MARANDA NELSON: I think that it's a good -- a good thing that they -- that tourism is going up to the glacier and seeing it. I think that is a good thing. So I --

RACHEL MASON: Is there anything else you'd like to add about the Exit Glacier?

MARANDA NELSON: Other than it's a pretty area and I love it, and I'm glad that I was able to enjoy it when I was a child and everything.

RACHEL MASON: Well, thank you very much. MARANDA NELSON: Yes.