Project Jukebox Survey
Help us redesign the Project Jukebox website by taking a very short survey!
Adam "Qapqan" Leavitt
Adam Leavitt (Qapqan) was born in 1909, the son of George Leavitt, Jr., and Mae Maasak. Both George and Mae grew up together in Barrow with the Brower family. George was the son of Ilġutchiaq (Nellie Nanouk), who was from Barrow, and Captain George Leavitt, a well-known commercial whaler who made many trips along the Arctic Coast. On one of those trips, George Jr. (as a young boy of 11 or so) was with his father. They got frozen in and had to winter at POW-1, twenty miles west of Cape Halkett. George's early experience with the traders continued through the years.
Adam recalls that his father used to run the wooden whaler's-type sailing boats from Barrow east for the trading at the mouth of the Colville River. The whole family traveled together. These trading trips would take all summer, and Adam recalls that his father traded with certain families who placed orders with him the year before. This pattern had already shifted by around 1921, when they made their last trip to the trade fair. Like Tom Brower, Adam witnessed the shift from trade fairs to trading posts along the coast. Adam also recalls the closing of trading posts due to low fur prices in the 1940's. Adam and his wife, Edna, had children growing up at that time; they were staying at Cape Halkett where his father was managing the store. Adam fished east of Tasiqpak Lake and near the mouth of the Colville.
In December of 1943, Adam and his family moved to Barrow, and he did some wage work and hunting. He hunted on the ocean and east of the Meade River, but west of Topagoruk. Over the years, he has worked on many construction projects, from the nurses' quarters at the Barrow hospital where he was a carpenter, to more recent jobs as a foreman for the North Slope Borough's Capital Improvement Projects. He has worked at the Naval Arctic Research Laboratory (NARL), Siems Drake-Puget Sound (P.S.&D.), Dew Line construction and one summer on the military base at Clear, Alaska. As of 1987, he had retired and was living in Barrow, but his skills as a carpenter and foreman were still well known. Adam Leavitt passed away in September 1988.
(This biographical section is from Quliaqtuat Iñupiat Nunaŋiññiñ - The Report of the Chipp-Ikpikpuk River and Upper Meade River Oral History Project. W. Arundale and W. Schneider, 1987.)