Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

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The Marvin Peter Photo Album was created in 1996 by Karen Brewster, Oral Historian with the North Slope Borough's Iñupiat History Language and Culture Division (IHLC) in Utqiaġvik, Alaska (formerly known as Barrow), with assistance from other IHLC staff members. Marvin Peter’s photographs provide an Iñupiaq perspective on life in Northern Alaska from the 1930s to 1960s during a period of great transition, and is a visual record of his intimate connection to the land and its people. Elder Rex Ahvakana discusses a selection of photographs from IHLC's Marvin Peter Collection, and provides clear identification of people, places and events in the photographs. His comments also offer insight into the details of his own life. Frances Mongoyak translated and transcribed the photo captions into Iñupiaq. Some of the Iñupiat names have been kept the way they are written in English by the families, others are written according to modern Iñupiaq spelling. In 2020, the Marvin Peter Photo Album Project Jukebox was upgraded from its original HTML format to Drupal. The information in this project reflects the context of the original creation date. Some information may now be out of date.

Click here to enter the Marvin Peter Photo Album slideshow.marvin_portrait.jpg

Marvin Saġvan Peter (1911-1962) used a camera to record the lives of his own people in Barrow from the 1930s to the 1960s. He was the son of reindeer herder Peter Takkak and Betsy Qaaqattak of Nuvuk (Point Barrow), and brother of Ida Numnik, Olive Kanayurak, and John Peter. Marvin was also an expert baleen basket weaver, who taught this skill to children in school. Marvin was a life-long bachelor, and had a crippled leg that limited his ability to participate in subsistence activities. For more about Marvin Peter, see his biography page.

Rex_portrait.jpgRex Aveoganna Ahvakana (1912-2000) was born in Barrow to Floyd and Laura Ahvakana. He was the oldest brother of Irene Itta, Della Ahvakana, Lloyd Ahvakana, Winfred Ahvakana, Molly Pederson, Nelson Ahvakana, and Lizzy Ahvakana. Rex's father was a reindeer herder, so Rex spent his early years inland with the herds and only started attending school at the age of eleven. He only completed the fifth grade having to leave school to help support the family when his father became ill. Rex developed carpentry and electrical skills that he utilized to help build a new school, the hospital, and the National Weather Service buildings in Barrow. In 1933, he married Deva Atqaqsaak Ahnupkana and they had six children. In 1943, Rex moved his family to Fairbanks, where he worked for Wein Airlines loading and fueling airplanes and eventually became an expert airplane mechanic. He retired in 1971 and moved back to Barrow permanently. For more about Rex Ahvakana, see his biography page.