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Virginia Pete

Virginia Pete was interviewed by Ruth Ann Warden of the Park Service, Dave Krupa and Bill Schneider on February 2, 2001 in her home in Tazlina, Alaska. Her sister, Gloria Stickwan, and her grandson (a young boy of 3 or 4) were present. Virginia was selected by the Village Council for the interview. Gloria works for the Copper River Native Association on cultural documentation. Virginia is a little hard of hearing, but she understood all of the questions and does a good job developing answers to the questions and presenting important themes such as the Army occupation of Dry Creek and how her family was forced to move out -- without compensation. Virginia now lives in a neat little house set back from the highway. Her beadwork is set out on a side table and there are several historic pictures and lots of recent ones on the shelves and walls.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2001-02-05

Project: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Date of Interview: Feb 2, 2001
Narrator(s): Virginia Pete
Interviewer(s): Ruth Ann Warden, David Krupa, Bill Schneider
People Present: Gloria Stickwan
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) Growing up in the Dry Creek and Crosswind Lake area

2) Trapping muskrat and seasonal movement

3) More on trapping muskrat and seasonal movement

4) Learning to trap muskrat

5) Fish camp on the Copper River

6) Learning to cut fish, and the deaths of her infant brother and little sister

7) The forced move to Tazlina after the Army came to Dry Creek

8) Being treated by the Army doctor, and the problems she sees regarding the loss of language and culture

9) Being forced out of Dry Bay by the military, and learning to speak English

10) Teaching Ahtna in the schools and learning to write it, and changes seen in the community

11) Seeing bullet holes in a WWII fighter plane at the air base in Dry Creek

12) Changes she has witnessed in the area

13) People gathering in the old days for potlatches

14) How people used to sing and dance, the meaning of , and more on trapping

15) Income from trapping

16) The number of people moving into the area, and learning to read from her mother

17) Changes brought about by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and advice for the younger generations

18) Why it is important for the young people to know the old ways

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\ grandmother\ Copper Center Lodge\ grandparents\ birthplace\ nurse\ Edna -- aunt\ Jackson, Mae -- aunt\ Dry Creek\ trapping\ parents\ Crosswind Lake\ airport\ travel -- dogs\ groceries\ trapline

Section 2: mother -- illness\ mother -- recovery\ trapping -- muskrat\ muskrat -- dens\ trapping -- season\ muskrat -- furs\ grandparents\ Dry Creek\ log cabin\ seasonal movement\ fur -- selling\ supplies -- purchase\ hunting -- spring\ rifle -- .22\ work -- hard\ dogs -- packs\ dogs -- work

Section 3: Tazlina, AK -- house\ seasonal movement\ Dry Creek -- cabin\ Dry Creek -- village\ family\ Jackson, Martha -- aunt\ Pete -- uncle\ Ewan, Annie -- aunt\ muskrat -- hunting\ trapping\ mother\ father\ hunting --travel\ lake -- campsite\ Crosswind Lake\ children\ trees -- cut

Section 4: furs -- selling\ Copper Center Lodge\ Gakona, AK\ groceries\ trapping -- muskrat\ trapping -- learning\ seasonal movement\ hunting\ birds -- ducks\ muskrat -- eating\ fishwheel\ fish camp

Section 5: fish camp\ Tazlina, AK\ Alice -- aunt\ Eileen____\ Dry Creek\ family\ fishwheel\ Copper River\ camp -- size\ helping\ Goodletah, Irene\ walking\ fish -- sharing\ fish -- drying\ packing -- supplies\ father -- carpenter\ fishwheel -- construction

Section 6: fish camp -- work\ fish -- cutting\ mother\ fish -- packing\ fish rack\ cutting fish -- learning\ sisters\ brother -- death\ pneumonia\ children -- number\ doctors -- lack of\ Crosswind Lake\ sister -- death

Section 7: children -- dying\ accident -- car\ sister -- death\ Dry Creek\ Tazlina, AK\ U.S. Army\ relocation -- forced\ family\ houses -- destroyed\ log cabins\ Tazlina, AK -- move to\ fishwheel\ fishing\ house -- construction\ trails -- foot\ road\ vehicles -- Model T\ supplies -- packing

Section 8: U.S. Army\ Dry Creek -- air base\ World War II\ Army -- houses\ grandfather -- death\ Army -- doctor\ Anne -- aunt\ illness -- treatment\ language -- English\ language -- Ahtna\ language -- loss\ culture -- loss\ culture -- teaching\ potlatches\ songs -- learning\ singing

Section 9: military\ relocation -- forced\ Jackson, Tony\ Lou, Lincoln\ logs -- hauling\ Martha -- aunt\ Annie _____\ ______ George\ log houses -- construction\ Tazlina, AK\ language -- Ahtna\ language -- English\ language -- learning\ mother -- reading\ mother -- education\ Copper Center

Section 10: language -- Ahtna\ teaching -- Ahtna\ Kari, Jim\ language -- workshop\ Martha -- aunt\ parents\ Ahtna -- speaking\ potlatch\ U.S. Army\ community -- changes\ Dry Creek -- airport\ Army -- planes\ bullet holes\ pilot

Section 11: bullet holes\ planes\ pilots\ houses\ (Heline), John\ airplanes -- gas\ Aleutian Islands\ military\ World War II

Section 12: community -- changes\ Alaska -- population\ population -- increase\ Copper Center\ travel -- walking\ travel -- dogs\ mail carrier\ Dry Creek\ sled -- riding\ seasonal movement\ food -- gathering

Section 13: river -- crossing\ Chief Andrew\ house -- size\ potlatch -- memorial\ people -- gathering\ Copper Center\ Chitina, AK\ \ William, Douglas\ trail -- canvas\ guns -- shooting\ house -- Big Jack's\ singing\ dancing

Section 14: dancing\ singing\ potlatch\ Chitina, AK\ singing -- loud\ fish camp\ (Site-de-nas) -- "people moving"\ trapping\ fur -- types\ fur -- price

Section 15: money -- making\ trapping -- income\ fur -- types\ trapping\ Crosswind Lake

Section 16: population -- increase\ reading -- learning\ mother\ Wrangell-St. Elias National Park\ hunting -- limitations

Section 17: pipeline -- changes\ population -- increases\ land -- issues\ children -- advice\ culture -- loss\ culture -- learning\ food -- gathering

Section 18: moose -- lack of\ Dry Creek\ Crosswind Lake\ trapping\ moose -- supplies\ meat -- cache\ cabins -- locations\ old ways -- importance\ starvation\ survival\ stores -- reliance\ foods -- wild