Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Mary P. Akootchook

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Mary P. Akootchook


MARY: My mom’s name is Iva Iviqana. Her parents are Tatqaviña and Argak. Tatqavina is her mother and Argak is her father. My father’s parents are Shorty and Susie.

KATHY: What kind of boat did you have?

MARY: We had a skin boat. My dad put a sail on it in Utqiaġvik (Barrow) before they came to Flaxman Island. We also had two small wooden boats.

KATHY: What kind of houses?

MARY:  Our house was made of driftwood. When I was three years old ,in 1924, my dad built the house at Flaxman Island. We stayed at Flaxman Island in the wintertime and went to Agliġuaġruk (Brownlow Point) in the summertime for fishing. Agliġuaġruk is good for fishing in the summer time.

KATHY: Who else was at Flaxman Island?

MARY: Our neighbors were Harland Okomailak and his family. They stayed with us three years and then moved somewhere. In the summertime at Agliġuaġruk, our neighbors were Clifford Saavġaq and his family and Lora Oyagak’s parents, Tigutaaq and Julia, and also Aġñiiñ’s family. These people stayed all year round and they were our neighbors when we went fishing to Agliġuaġruk. Also Henry Chamberlain had his store at Agliġuaġruk. When I was just becoming aware, Henry Chamberlain was at Agliġuaġruk.

KATHY: What kinds of equipment did you use to hunt and fish?

MARY: We used fish net and traps - steel traps.

KATHY: How did you cook your food?

MARY: We used a wood stove and we had cooking utensils like we have now. We gathered wood in the summertime by boat. In the fall, we gathered wood by dogteam.

KATHY: What do you remember of the white missionaries’ first contact with people?

MARY: Klerekoper and Ahmaogak would come at least once a year. Also when someone was conducting a census of people. Also, Reverend Samuel Lee who was a preacher after Klerekoper came here by dogteam.

KATHY: What have you seen or hear of white explorers?

MARY: Leffingwell has been here. His house is not standing any more. When my parents left Utqiaġvik for Flaxman Island, they saw him. His house was still standing. We spent at least 1 ½ to two years at Kaŋigluk before moving to Flaxman Island. " (pg. 106)