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Elaine Abraham and Mary Ann Paquette
montage of elain abraham and mary ann paquette

This interview has been edited. Bill Schneider was fortunate that Elaine Abraham, who lived in Anchorage at the time of this recording, was in Yakutat while he was interviewing and we were able to include her. She is joined here by Mary Ann Paquette and they give a very personal introduction to growing up in Yakutat. The edited section can be found in the Kayamori slideshow. They made comments on a photo album of pictures made by a Japanese photographer, Kayamori, who lived in Yakutat until World War II. When he learned that he would be detained in a camp during the war he committed suicide. The photo album is from his collection at the Alaska State Library in Juneau. There is considerable interest in the album and the images of Yakutat in the early years. Only a selection of images were described by Mary Ann and Elaine.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 95-71-28

Project: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Date of Interview: Jul 12, 1995
Narrator(s): Elaine Abraham, Mary Ann Paquette
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
People Present: Nellie Lord, Mary Ann Porter
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
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) Introduction

2) The history of canneries in Yakutat

3) Trails and trail building

4) The old village at Yakutat

5) Favorite places to go and reminiscences

6) The presence and influence of U.S. soldiers

7) The fire aboard the military ship "Cleveland"

8) The evacuation of Yakutat

9) Trapping, camps, and candy

10) Kayamori

11) Kayamori and Jack Alice

12) Native perspectives on the environment

13) Native youth and teaching

14) Contrasting traditional beliefs and western culture

15) Relations between people and animals

16) Native youth, upbringings, and beliefs

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: Paquette, Mary Ann\ Abraham, Elaine\ Porter, Mary Ann\ Lord, Nellie

Section 2: canneries -- Ankau\ canneries -- Whaling Company\ Paquette, Mary Ann -- father\ canneries -- New England Company\ canneries -- Libbey Company\ railroads

Section 3: trails\ army\ CCC trail building\ Ankau

Section 4: canneries\ CCC workers\ Old Village\ Yakutat\ canoes -- dugout\ Sea Lion Rock\ beach\ transportation -- water

Section 5: camps\ Ankau\ smokehouses\ fish -- smoking\ longhouses\ Jackson, Jimmy\ Russian Fjord\ Bremner, George\ Thomas, Johnny\ Bremner, Johnny\ "Old Ben" (Peterson?)\ fish camp\ fishing -- commercial\ fishing boat -- "Ocheeok"\ Demard, Sam\ (?), Eli\ Ankau\ Nelton, William\ Jackson, Jimmy\ smokehouses\ wood -- packing\ canoes\ (kakukteeuk?)\ "Inside the Ear" Inlet\ Johnson, Alec\ Milton, E.C.

Section 6: airport\ U.S. soldiers -- relations with Natives\ visitations\ ice cream\ U.S. soldiers\ army posts\ Ankau\ cemeteries\ sea weed -- gathering\ moccasins -- purchasing\ U.S. soldiers\ food -- soldiers\ food -- candy\ Situk River\ Grandma Maggie\ food -- fish eggs\ trading\ food -- "Indian cheese"\ U.S. soldiers\ land -- take over\ docks\ guard houses\ cannery\ land restrictions\ restrictions -- passes\ Old Village\ fishing\ churches\ Alaska Native Brotherhood\ dances\ U.S.soldiers\ road construction\ airports\ food -- scarcities\ food -- smuggling\ clan lands

Section 7: U.S. soldiers\ ships -- "Cleveland"\ fire\ Adams, Henry\ Bremner, John\ Peterson, Louise\ Peterson, Ben\ Lowell\ Thomas, Mary\ (?), Nick and Leslie\ munitions\ Aleutians

Section 8: Yakutat\ planes -- Japanese\ evacuations\ Chicago Harbor\ Ahrnklin\ caves\ Abraham, Elaine -- grandfather\ Isaac, Kitty\ tobacco\ James, Violet\ fires -- in trees\ Abraham, Elaine -- parents

Section 9: trapping\ Ahrnklin\ Abraham, Olaf\ Kayamori\ food -- candy\ Abraham, Elaine -- father\ fish camps\ Ankau\ boats

Section 10: canneries\ clerks\ fox farming\ Tlingit\ Japan\ Kayamori -- origins\ Abraham, Elaine -- parents\ Alice, Jack

Section 11: Kayamori\ Alice, Jack\ fox farming\ boats -- outboard motors\ boats\ Eleanore Island\ Far out Island\ Jack Alice Island\ Tlingit\ Bremner, Johnny\ fox breeding

Section 12: rules\ regulations\ medicines -- healing ways\ John, Maggie\ John, Maggie -- mother Emma\ nurses -- registered\ births -- deliveries

Section 13: berries -- blueberries\ resource management\ berries -- salmonberries\ missionaries\ berries -- traditional management\ berries -- gathering\ land use practices\ regulations -- clams\ regulations -- river pollution\ money -- value\ fish -- shortages\ money\ resource management\ berries -- shortages\ ancestors\ rules and regulations\ regulations -- fish\ taboos -- environment\ taboos -- bears\ taboos -- seals\ taboos -- glaciers\ environment -- spirits\ stories -- brown bear\ bears -- brown\ spirits -- respect for

Section 14: traditional upbringings\ western culture\ energy\ bears -- brown\ hunting -- mind set\ youth -- Native

Section 15: Anchorage\ population expansion\ moose\ bears\ University of Alaska Anchorage\ canneries

Section 16: Williams, Sarah\ John, Maggie\ nurses -- registered\ maturity\ teachings\ births -- deliveries\ Bremner, Troy\ John, Maggie -- mother Emma