Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Project Jukebox Survey

Help us redesign the Project Jukebox website by taking a very short survey!

Simon Francis

Simon Francis was a Gwich'in elder from Fort Yukon, Alaska. He born in 1924 to Bella and Adam Francis in Whitehorse, Canada, was raised at Old Village (John Herbert's Village), and spent much of his life on the Porcupine River. He grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle based on hunting, trapping and fishing. Simon was traditional chief of Fort Yukon, and was known as a skilled woodsman, trapper, river-boatman, and craftsman. In 1947, Simon married Bella Strom and together they raised six children. They lived at Old Village until 1957, when the family moved to Fort Yukon so the children could attend school. In 1967, the family moved to Chalkitysik and he and his sons ran a trapline from Old Village. Later, Simon and Belle returned to Fort Yukon and then moved to Fairbanks. Simon's lifetime of experiences on the land around Fort Yukon and Chalkyitsik provided him a wealth of knowledge about the environment, plants, animals, lakes, rivers, and the weather in his region, and how these had changed through his lifetime. As he became renowned for his subsistence skills, traditional knowledge, and his snowshoe and sled making, Simon began spending more time teaching the young people about old ways and how they could serve the future. He and Belle served as Elders in Residence at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, teaching traditional skills and cultural knowledge, and he also worked at the Riverboat Discovery in Fairbanks for 15 years sharing his Native culture with visitors from around the world. Simon Francis passed away in 2017. For more about Simon Francis, see his obituary in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner newspaper.

Date of Birth:
Feb 20, 1924
Date of Death:
Jun 10, 2017
Simon Francis appears in the following new Jukebox projects: