Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Kokhanok, Alaska


The Kokhanok portion of the Katmai Project Jukebox program contains interviews with Fennie Andrew, Nick Nowatok, Mary Nelson, Anesia Newyaka, Shirley Nielsen, Danny Roehl, Steve Nowatok, and Evelyn Mike. These residents of Kokhanok were interviewed by Judith Morris in August, 1997. Judy had been employed as a subsistence researcher for Alaska Department of Fish and Game and knew many of the people in the region. The plan was to have people tell their life stories and provide personal perspectives on their lifetimes of hunting, fishing, and trapping in and around Katmai National Park.

The interviews with Gabby Gregory, Gregory Andrew, Garith Nielsen, John Nelson Jr., and a second interview with Danny Roehl were conducted by William Schneider of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program and Don Callaway of the National Park Service in November, 1999.

The interviews provide glimpses of peoples' lives and the changes they have experienced. Each person was asked to discuss yearly cycles of activities for different times in their lives. Several themes should be noted here. The individuals interviewed have ties to people in other Bristol Bay villages, particularly Igiugig, Levelock, and Iliamna, and they travel to these places often to visit and do subsistence activities. The Bristol Bay fishery has provided summer employment opportunities for at least two generations of men, and for women summer subsistence fishing in Iliamna Lake and on the Kvichak River is a large part of their yearly cycle. The Alakanak or Branch River is often discussed as a destination for seasonal hunting and fishing. In addition, some of the interviews describe changes in weather and animal populations over the narrator's lifetime. Several important management issues are discussed. These include Native concepts of conservation, conflicts with the sport lodges, and overland access to parklands by wheeled vehicles. Each person provides their own perspective on these issues.

In addition to the life story interviews, there is a short slideshow providing a visual introduction to the community of Kokhanok. John Branson, a historian for Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, provided the historic photos and all of the slideshow photo captions.

The interviewing was done in Kokhanok in the summer of 1997 and in the fall of 1999. The computer design and programming was completed by University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History office staff in the fall of 1998 and the winter/spring of 1999.

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