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!

Greta "Suvluuraq" Akpik

Greta Akpik

Greta (Suvluuraq) and Walter Akpik lived in Atqasuk, Alaska and both had a lifetime of associations with the inland river systems. As a little girl, Greta (maiden name: Toovak) recalls traveling with her parents on the rivers. She remembers the site of Alaqtaq near the Chipp River. Recalling her grandmother, who was living on a river (Qaagagvik or Topagoruk River) between the Ikpikpak and the Meade Rivers, she states: "I was the youngest that time when we were at the river between Ikpikpak and Meade River. I know my grandmother was there, living."
 In 1922 or 1923, when she was 10 or 11, Greta's family went inland by boat in fall time. They went up the rivers, fishing and hunting caribou. In her younger years, they stayed on the Ikpikpak and the Topagoruk Rivers, always moving around. Greta's grandfather and a sister are buried by the Ikpikpak.

One fall they couldn't go up the Ikpikpak because of ice so they wintered at Payugvik on the Meade River. Her father's uncle, who was Vincent Nageak's father, stayed at Payugvik at that time. Greta's parents built a house there, and they used that place extensively. It wasn't far to go back and forth from Payugvik to Barrow. Her father was a whaler, so they spent the spring whaling out of Barrow.
 Her parents were still staying at Payugvik in 1940 and perhaps later.

Unlike her sister who was able to go to school in Barrow, Greta did not spend much time in Barrow. Her parents almost always took her with them when they were traveling. She regrets now that she wasn't able to stay in town more often for schooling like her sister. When she got older, Greta took a job in the hospital at Barrow, working in the kitchen and the laundry. Since they had to haul all their water by hand, it was hard work.

After Greta and Walter got married, they did some traveling together. Walter was a reindeer herder before they were married, and he continued to herd until a few months after their son, Frankie, was born in 1934. The herders often needed their skin boots repaired, and Greta recalls learning how to patch Eskimo boots for the "first time." After Walter stopped herding, they went inland: "...(We) start to go hunting ourselves. In the fall time; we start to go to Qikiqtaqturuq by boat. That was Isuqtuq. We stay up there all winter and springtime. After trapping season closed, we'd go back to Barrow."
 Another place they stayed was at Uqpiksuum Kaŋia, on the Uqpiksuu (Okpiksak River).

Walter and Greta lived in Barrow for several years after 1946 when Walter began working for wages, but they moved back to the Meade River, to the new village of Atqasuk, in 1977 or 1978. They maintained a hunting camp (tent) on the Isuqtuq River at the site of Itqiliq.
 Eventually, as they aged, Greta and Walter moved back to Barrow. Greta Akpik passed away in 1991.

(Biographical section from Quliaqtuat Iñupiat Nunaŋiññiñ - The Report of the Chipp-Ikpikpuk River and Upper Meade River Oral History Project. W. Arundale and W. Schneider, 1987.)

Greta "Suvluuraq" Akpik appears in the following new Jukebox projects: