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Lucille Brenwick

This interview was held at Lucille Brenwick's home in Copper Center, Alaska, a neat and comfortable house located next to the National Park Service offices. Lucille's great-niece, Ruth Ann Warden, of the Park Service, conducted the interview with Bill Schneider and Dave Krupa. In the interview, Lucille reflects on and compares life before leaving for Chemewa, a BIA school in Oregon, with life outside, and life when she returned to the Copper River Basin. The interview is rich in the description of the people who helped her as a girl growing up across the Copper River from Copper Center. Lucille also recalls the impact of the 1918 Flu Epidemic, and the people who lived and worked around the roadhouses.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2001-02-01

Project: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Date of Interview: Feb 1, 2001
Narrator(s): Lucille Brenwick
Interviewer(s): Ruth Ann Warden, Bill Schneider
People Present: David Krupa
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) Background information on her and her parents

2) Her childhood, the death of her father, and attending the BIA school in Copper Center

3) Growing up speaking Ahtna, forgetting most of the language at Chemawa, and moving away to Oregon to attend school

4) How Chief Andrew and other tribal members looked out for her mother and family after her father's death

5) Losing a sailor hat when she was a young girl, and the transition from life on the Copper River to the Chemawa boarding school in Oregon

6) Attending school at Chemawa, then moving to Portland to attend high school

7) Meeting her husband, moving around the U.S. with the Navy, and moving back to Alaska

8) Impressions of the community after her return home, and reuniting with her mother

9) Moving back home, marrying Mr. Brenwick, building the Tazlina River Roadhouse, and more about her father

10) Being looked out for by Mr. Ship and other community members after her father's death, and getting ready for a dance in Gulkana

11) A dance at Gulkana, and remembering the 1918 flu

12) The potlatch following the 1918 flu

13) Freighting on the Copper River ice, and noticeable social changes in the area

14) Changes in social life and the amount of tourism

15) Hiding homebrew from the prohibition officer, and reflecting on the social importance of roadhouses

16) Roadhouse cats, presence of churches in the area, and celebrating holidays

17) Mike Griffith, an Irishman, and local artists, the Cromrines and Ted Lambert

18) More on local artists, and taking pride in one's heritage

19) Meeting relatives from her father's side at a family reunion, and remembering her mother

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: Copper Center, AK\ birth date\ Craig, Charles -- father\ land -- ownership\ roadhouse\ midwife\ father -- English\ census\ Valdez, AK\ siblings\ father -- blacksmith\ horses\ claims -- mining\ claims -- selling\ (Goodletah), Mary -- mother\ (Goodletah), Joe\ Katalla -- village\ village -- location\ Cordova, AK\ Athabascan\ Tlingit

Section 2: memories -- early\ Copper River\ house -- location\ Klawasi River\ father -- death\ rabbits -- food\ father -- memories\ horses -- pack\ cemetery -- (Old '98)\ Copper Center, AK\ food -- plentiful\ soup -- fish egg\ Copper River -- crossing\ boats -- row\ trading post\ Barnes, Florence\ adoption\ roadhouse\ school -- BIA\ (Swartz), Paul\ language -- Native\ language -- learned\ school -- out of state\ Nelson, Wayne -- commissioner\ Chitina\ school -- Chemawa\

Section 3: language -- Ahtna\ language -- Athabascan\ language -- English\ school -- Chemawa\ language -- forgetting\ Ahtna -- words\ name -- Indian\ "AHTNA NAME"\ "You Bring Me Joy"\ "AHTNA NAME"\ "Someone Who Creates With The Hands"\ school -- moving away\ Chitina, AK\ Barnes, Florence\ (Swartz), Paul\ Ms. Brown\ roadhouse\ home -- time away\ marriage\ children\ home -- return\ Alaska -- territory\ Alaska - war restricted zone\ Alaska -- entry permission\ family -- visit

Section 4: school -- moving away\ Oregon\ Copper River\ area -- chiefs\ Chief Andrew Issac\ meat -- providing\ hunting groups\ Wrangell Mountains\ (Stickwan), Elsie\ meat -- sheep\ tribal members\ house -- Chief Andrew Issac\ children -- play\ elders -- respect\ Copper River -- crossing\ boats -- number\ groceries

Section 5: money -- little\ trading post\ Barnes, Florence\ hats -- sailing\ Copper River -- crossing\ hat -- lost\ Chemawa -- school\ travel -- train\ Seattle, WA\ Seattle Steamship\ sea sickness\ Gulf of Alaska\ clothing -- uniforms\ students -- Indian\ childhood -- innocence\ school -- fight\ Klamath Indian\ school -- song

Section 6: school -- rules\ punishment\ drill team -- officer\ literary societies\ (Non Perals)\ (Excelsciers)\ (Reliance)\ (Winonas)\ punctuality -- importance\ Portland, OR\ summer school\ Tatum, Dr.\ Tatum, Mrs.\ work -- housekeeper\ Grant High\ school -- walk\ students

Section 7: husband -- meeting\ Seattle, WA\ marriage\ California\ Virginia\ Andre -- son\ Portsmouth, VA\ Portland, OR\ San Diego, CA\ San Pedro, CA\ Navy -- towns\ homesick -- Alaska\ brother -- sent fare\ Alaska Road Commission\ marriage -- seperation\ Alaska -- return\ Alaska Steamship\ Valdez, AK\ road -- washed out\ Upper Tonsina River\ Pederson, Oscar\ work -- restaurant\ Copper Center, AK\ Barnes, Florence\ roadhouse

Section 8: Alaska -- return\ education -- lack of\ people -- uneducated\ scholarships\ English -- language\ mother -- death\ Copper Center, AK\ Allen, Henry\ eye sight -- loss\ Glenn Highway

Section 9: marriage -- Brenwick\ Department of Highways\ Alaska -- statehood\ work -- civil service\ Federal Aviation Administration\ Tazlina River Trading Post -- construction\ business -- starting\ retirement\ heart attack\ Mr. Brenwick -- death\ trading post -- sold\ (Horalls) -- owners\ Church, Ed\ Church, Donna\ land -- purchase\ Craig, Charles -- father\ father -- blacksmith\ horses\ saddle making

Section 10: old -timers\ Mr. Ship\ Alaska Road Commission -- head\ father -- death\ education\ Barnes, Florence\ underwear -- silk\ sewing -- night gowns\ Chemawa -- school\ crop -- picking\ material -- dress\ clothes -- swapping\ sandals\ dance -- Gulkana, AK\ shoes -- leather\ stockings -- silk

Section 11: dance -- Gulkana, AK\ Alaska Road Commission -- worker\ flu -- 1918\ nurses -- government\ doctors -- government\ brother -- sick\ mother -- sick\ deaths -- number\ examination\ , John\ Experimental Farm\ Missouri -- family\ wood camp

Section 12: flu -- 1918\ potlatch\ McKinley, Jim\ dancing -- feather\ song\ McKinley George -- chief\ Copper River\ rafts\ slough\ guns -- firing\ dishes -- breaking\ dancing -- on dishes\ people -- number\ vehicle -- ownership\ Chief Andrew Issac\ car -- Chevrolet\ Copper Center, AK

Section 13: Copper River\ driving -- ice\ sleds -- double ended\ ice -- testing\ cook shack\ freighting\ social life -- change END OF SIDE A

Section 14: social life - change\ bars -- lack of\ alcohol -- lack of\ road -- construction\ Anchorage, AK -- road\ road -- dirt\ Anchorage, AK -- travel\ Barnes, Florence\ Fort Richardson, AK\ vehicle -- search\ government post\ road -- paved\ Valdez, AK\ Fairbanks, AK\ tourism -- increase\ tourists -- numbers\ Cordova, AK\ Chitina, AK

Section 15: homebrew\ prohibition officers\ Chitina, AK\ message -- relay\ roadhouse\ homebrew -- hiding\ Copper Center, AK\ Mrs. Brown\ Mrs. Smith\ cooking -- family style\ meals -- type\ food -- bread pudding\ Barnes, Florence

Section 16: cards -- poker\ Barnes, Florence\ old-timers\ reincarnation\ cats -- roadhouse\ cats -- Tabby\ churches -- number\ Russian Orthodox\ baptism\ McKinley, Jim\ birth certificate -- application\ Craig, Mary -- mother\ records -- keeping\ school -- BIA\ minister -- traveling\ Mr. Bingle\ Christmas\ Easter\ holiday -- celebration

Section 17: Irish -- holiday\ Griffith, Mike -- Irish\ dance -- Irish\ Copper River\ rocks -- engraving\ Lower Tonsina River\ Chief Andrew -- painting\ Cromrine, Nina\ Cromrine, Josephine\ Barnes, Florence\ cat\ hat bag\ Lambert, Ted\ Aleutian Islands\ artists\ beer -- drinking\ painting -- gift

Section 18: artists\ Lambert, Ted\ Barnes, Florence\ Cromrine -- family\ Juneau, AK\ Anchorage, AK\ Chitina, AK\ photographs\ painting\ heritage -- remembering\ lifestyle -- old\ life -- difficulty\ fish camp\ bed -- spruce bows\ childhood -- happy\ heritage -- pride\ Native\ English

Section 19: Nebraska\ family reunion\ Craig -- family\ Craig-Overshaw Reunion\ relatives\ father -- family\ mother -- family\ Craig, Mary -- mother\ Russian Era -- records\ mother -- leader