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Koyukuk R_homepage.jpgRaven's Story originally was a series on public radio station KIYU-AM in Galena, Alaska of interviews with Athabascan elders that highlighted their stories, observations, and experiences relating to wildlife, fish and subsistence in the Koyukuk and middle Yukon Rivers area of interior Alaska. Interviews were conducted between 1995 and 2003 by Mike Spindler, Clinton Brown and Orville Huntington, and the Raven's Story program was produced by Mike Spindler and Clinton Brown at KIYU, with support from the Louden Tribal Council and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This Raven's Story Project Jukebox was designed in 2002 by Bill Burke and updated in 2004 by Marla Statscewich, both staff of the Oral History Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In 2020, the Raven's Story Project Jukebox was upgraded from its original HTML format to Drupal. The information in this project reflects the context of the original creation date. Some information may now be out of date.


Humphrey Ambrose Humphrey Ambrose

Humphrey Ambrose was born in 1915 to Mary Ann and Joseph Ambrose in Nulato, Alaska. Humphrey's formal education ended at the third grade, but he went on to be schooled in a subsistence lifestyle. On June 10, 1939, he married Mildred Stevens Esmailka, and together they raised seven children in Kaiyuh on a subsistence lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping. His trapping endeavors predominantly consisted of marten, mink, beaver and wolf, but he also harvested lynx and wolverine. As their... Read More

Catherine Attla Catherine Attla

Catherine Attla was a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Huslia, Alaska. She was born at Cutoff in 1927, and grew up speaking her Native language and learning subsistence skills and cultural knowledge from her grandparents in their trapping cabins and fish camps. She married Steven Attla, Sr. in 1944, and they went right out to spring camp. They settled at Cutoff, the old village site at the mouth of the Huslia River. In 1949, they moved to the New Huslia village site, another 10 miles down the... Read More

Marjorie Attla 2002 Marjorie "Margie" Attla

Marjorie "Margie" Attla was born in 1941 to Mary David and Walter Koyukuk at spring camp on the Kanuti Flats east of Allakaket, Alaska. Prior to attending elementary school in the village, she lived a semi-nomadic subsistence-based lifestyle with her parents, moving around among various seasonal camps. During her school years, Margie lived in Allakaket until she left at the age of 17. She moved to Huslia, where she met her husband, Robert Attla, and married him in 1964. They lived in Huslia... Read More

Steven Attla, Sr. Steven Attla, Sr.

Steven Attla, Sr. was a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Huslia, Alaska. He was born in 1924 near Hughes, Alaska, but his parents moved down to the Cutoff area when he was about three. He grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle living off the land; hunting, trapping, and fishing following the seasons to different camp locations. In 1944, he married Catherine Charlie, and they went right to spring camp. They settled at Cutoff, the old village site at the mouth of the Huslia River. In... Read More

Henry Beatus Henry Beatus

Henry Beatus was born in January 1932 in Hughes, Alaska to Fred Bifelt, whose father was Jimmy Huntington, Sr. Henry's mother was named Helen. She died when he was a year and a half old, so he was raised in Hughes by Grandpa Beatus and Grandma Ida. They raised Henry living mainly by subsistence hunting, fishing and trapping. Henry learned to trap a long trapline at a young age. In 1952, he married Sophie Koyukuk from Allakaket. They had 11 children and adopted one. In the 1950's, Henry... Read More

Celia Beetus Celia Beetus

Celia Beetus was a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Hughes, Alaska. She was born in 1922 to Annie and Jimmy Koyukuk at the mouth of the Alatna River at Allakaket, Alaska. She grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle moving from camp to camp with the seasons. Despite this seasonal lifestyle, Celia did attend the mission school in Allakaket for a while, and most of her summers were spent at the family's fish camp, ten miles below the village. In l938, when she was sixteen years old,... Read More

Joe Beetus Joe Beetus

Joe Beetus was a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Hughes, Alaska. He was born in 1915 to Ida and Leon (last name unknown) and raised around Allakaket until he was about 14 years old when his family moved down to the Hughes area. His father was a prominent member of the community that coalesced around the Episcopal Mission, St. John's-in-the-Wilderness, that was built by Hudson Stuck in l907-08 at the site that became the village of Allakaket. Leon died not long after Joe was born, and his... Read More

Cue Bifelt Cue Bifelt

Cue Bifelft was born in May 1929 in a camp near Hughes, Alaska. His parents were Fred Bifelt and Helen Beetus. In 1938, the family moved down the Koyukuk River from Hughes to Cutoff, near the present day Huslia. Cue grew up mainly in subsistence hunting, fishing and trapping camps in and around Huslia. With the passing of his mother at a young age, Cue rarely left his father's side and learned life-long lessons about respecting the land, animals and waterways. In 1948, he married Madeline... Read More

Altona Brown Altona Brown

Altona Brown was born in 1904 near Kokrines, Alaska. One of sixteen children, she was adopted by her aunt and uncle in Nulato where she learned traditional subsistence activities. As a child, she survived polio and attended Mt Edgecumbe boarding school in Sitka, Alaska. At age twelve, she married John Slaveenga, and then later married "Dago Kid" Alexander Brown. She had three children, Walter, Marie, and Clyde. Altona was a good hunter and could cut 120 salmon an hour. She was still smoking... Read More

Pauline Chappelle Pauline Chappelle

Pauline Chappelle was an Koyukon Athabascan elder from Ruby, Alaska. She was known for telling traditional stories about raven, sun and the moon and cultural origins, starvation times, traditional medicine, traditional spiritual beliefs, and encounters with bears. (Photo courtesy of Zeta Cleaver.)

David David 2004 David David

David David is a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Allakaket, Alaska. He was born in 1932 on the Upper Koyukuk River near South Fork, upriver from the village of Allakaket. His parents were Southfork David and Eva Adams of Stevens Village. The Allakaket community is basically made up of three groups. Two of these groups consist of Koyukon people, one from the Kanuti River and Allakaket areas and another from the region around the South Fork of the Koyukuk River. The Iñupiaq community of Alatna... Read More

Kitty David 2004 Kitty David

Kitty David is a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Allakaket, Alaska. She was born in Alatna in 1933 to Oscar and Cora Tobuk Nictune. Ann Edwards, Elma Sam,and Bertha Moses are her sisters. She and her five sisters and two brothers grew up (another brother and sister died as young children) spending a lot of time camping away from the village. Her father and both sets of her grandparents had camps up the Alatna River. After her mother died in 1942, when Kitty was just nine years old, the family... Read More

Lloyd and Amelia DeWilde Amelia DeWilde

Amelia DeWilde was born in 1937 to parents Edwin Simon and Lydia Olin who lived along the Koyukuk River near the village of Allakaket, Alaska. For the first decade of her life, her family lived a nomadic lifestyle, mostly in tent camps, between Allakaket and Tanana. The family later moved to Whitefish Lake, about 12 miles south of Huslia. During that time, Amelia attended school off and on, but she preferred to live out in camp. She had her own dog team and trapline, and taught herself to... Read More

Lloyd and Amelia DeWilde Lloyd DeWilde

Lloyd DeWilde was born in Oakland, California in 1927. His parents were Thelma and Victor DeWilde. For much of his youth, Lloyd dreamed of coming to Alaska. After he finished school, Lloyd worked odd jobs on farms and ranches, and at a gas station. As a 20 year-old, Lloyd's dream came true when he got off a ship in Seward, Alaska in 1947. He didn't waste any time getting a job, and spent his first summer working as a farm hand for Art Thompson in Anchorage. Lloyd spent his first winter in... Read More

Eddie Hildebrand Edward "Eddie" Hildebrand

Edward "Eddie" Hildebrand was born in 1917 to Martha and Peter Esmailka in Nulato, Alaska. Eddie lived in Nulato his entire life. He raised four girls and a boy with his first wife, Alice. He then married Annie, and they raised two girls and three boys. In the early years, Eddie supported his family by trapping in the winter and fishing in the summer. For seven years, 1938-1945, he hauled the U.S. mail by dog team from Nulato to Koyukuk and Galena. Starting in 1950, Eddie worked construction... Read More

John Honea John Honea

John Honea was born in 1911 to Polly Nohunolno and John McGuire at Kokrines, a now-abandoned village 27 miles upriver from Ruby, Alaska. His mother was an Athabascan from Kokrines and his father was an Irishman who died in 1912 when John was just a year old. John was raised by Mary Dean and Billy Honea, until they separated in 1923. At the age of twelve, John was on his own, so from an early age he had to teach himself to hunt, trap, and fish for a living. He also made a living by cutting... Read More

Lorraine Honea 1995 Lorraine Honea

Lorraine Honea was born in 1920 to Matilda Paul and Freddie Olin, Sr. at camp on the Yukon River, twenty miles above Ruby, Alaska. She was raised at 20 Mile camp, Big Eddy Fish camp and Kokrines by her maternal grandparents, Bill and Eva Roberts (until she was twelve), and by her parents, Fred Olin Sr. and Matilda Paul Olin, who passed away when Lorraine was only nineteen years old. In 1936, at age sixteen, Lorraine married John Honea. From 1937 until 1962, John and Lorraine spent each fall... Read More

Sidney Huntington Sidney Huntington

Sidney Huntington was born in 1915 along the Koyukuk River in Hughes, Alaska. His mother, Anna, was a Koyukon Athabascan woman of the caribou clan and his father was a Gold Rush stampeder, trapper, and trader who came to the Koyukuk area in the early 1900's. They lived at Hogatzakaket, where the Hog River meets the Koyukuk River, about 90 miles downstream from Hughes. Following his mother's death when he was five, Sidney, his brother and three sisters were sent to the Anvik Mission. Later,... Read More

James Johnson, Sr. James Johnson, Sr.

James Johnson, Sr. was born in the old village of Kokrines on the Yukon River, near Ruby, Alaska. He grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle of trapping, hunting, and fishing. To help with the government's attempt to reintroduce reindeer into Interior Alaska in the 1920s, he took up reindeer herding near Ruby. James was well-known for his woodworking abilities, making sleds, snowshoes, and intricate picture frames out of willow wood. In his later years, he was known for telling... Read More

Benedict Jones Benedict Jones

Benedict Jones was born in 1933 to Jesse Nelson Jones and Harry Jones at a fish camp where the village of Koyukuk, Alaska is currently located. Benedict has lived in Koyukuk most of his life, except for 20 years from 1970-1990 when he was in Fairbanks working as a highway maintenance operator. Benedict is well known in the middle Yukon River area as a sprint dog musher and subsistence expert. In winter, he spends lots of time at his trapping camp along the Koyukuk River, and in summer he is... Read More

Eliza Jones Eliza Jones

Eliza Jones was born in 1938 to Little Peter and Josie Peter at a camp near Cutoff, Alaska. Her Native name is Neelteloyeeneelno, which means "mixed talent" or "having more than one project going at the same time." She was named by Grandma Cecilia Happy, who gave her the name because her grandma was a very talented person and she was a good seamstress, fisher person and made good dried fish. Cecilia was a good trapper and hunter so she gave Eliza the name as a way of carrying on the story of... Read More

Franklin Madros, Sr. Franklin Madros, Sr.

Franklin Madros, Sr. was born in 1920 to Jack and Diana Madros in Kaltag, Alaska. He was one of the first four babies born in the newly forming village. He grew up living a subsistence lifestyle with his parents; hunting, trapping and fishing. He attended the Bureau of Indian Affairs school in Kaltag in 1926, only completing through the third grade. Franklin joined the U.S. Army in 1942 and served until 1946. He was primarily stationed in Alaska, but also traveled to the Lower 48 states. In... Read More

Johnson Moses 2003 Johnson Moses

Johnson Moses was a Koyukon Athabascan elder from Allakaket, Alaska. He was born in 1924 to Billy and Ceza Bergman. When Johnson was about a year old, two of his older brothers died, only a day apart. In keeping with tradition, Johnson's mother gave him away, in hopes that subsequent children, including Johnson, might live. Until he was thirteen, Johnson was raised by Lucy and Henry Moses; then he went to live with Lucy's father, Big William, and William William, another youngster whom Big... Read More

Edgar Nollner, Sr. Edgar Nollner, Sr.

Edgar Nollner, Sr. was born in 1904 to Alfred Redmon Nollner, a Gold Rush stampeder from Missouri, and Cecelia Frank, whose Koyukon Athabascan name was Morondoyedat/no, in the village of Old Louden, Alaska on the Yukon River. Edgar's early years were spent learning the skills he used all his life, including hunting, trapping, fishing, and reading. He loved school but only completed the third grade because the government closed the school. Edgar was a successful dog musher and won... Read More

Lillian Olin Lillian Olin

Lillian Olin was born in 1924 to Tassianna Big Jim Pitka from Kaltag and Richard Pitka from Nulato in a camp on the Dolby River, a tributary of the Koyukuk River north of Galena, Alaska. She almost died at childbirth, and had nine brothers and sisters. While she was growing up, Lillian and her family lived a subsistence lifestyle, which usually meant traveling to different camps for the different seasons. In 1937, Lillian met her husband, Fred Olin, and they were married in 1948. Together,... Read More

Justin Patsy Justin Patsy

Justin Patsy was born in 1926 to Leena and Charlie Wholecheese in Old Louden, Alaska, 13 miles up river from Galena, Alaska. When he was still a baby, he was adopted by Jack and Elizabeth Patsy. He grew up on the Koyukuk River hunting and trapping with his family until he was 12. They predominantly trapped on the Dulbi River and fished on the Yukon River, four miles above Nulato. His mother fell ill when he was 12, so he spent most of his teen years around Nulato to be near her. Justin... Read More

Pauline Peter Pauline Peter

Pauline Peter was born in 1932 to Martha Nelson at Toby's Camp, a remote camp on the Koyukuk River, halfway between Nulato and Huslia. Her mother died when she was two years old and she was adopted by an elder couple, John and Alga Angela Brown. The family spent most of each year living off the land on the Kaiyuh Flats, across the Yukon River from Nulato. In 1949, Pauline married Arthur Peter, and together they raised eight children and several foster children. She also raised several... Read More

Goodwin Semaken, Sr. Goodwin Semaken, Sr.

Goodwin Semaken, Sr. was born on December 22, 1922 in Kaltag, Alaska. His mother, Lizzy Amelia, was Iñupiaq and his father, George Semaken, was Koyukon Athabascan, so Goodwin had relatives from two cultures. Goodwin's parents moved to Kaltag the year he was born and that was the same year Kaltag moved to its current site. His family lived a subsistence lifestyle, so consequently, he was only able to go to school until about 4th grade. Goodwin married Florence Madros and they raised eleven... Read More

Franklin Simon Franklin Simon

Franklin Simon was born in the old village of Cutoff, Alaska in February 1934. His parents were the late Edwin Simon and Huslia's beloved Elder Lydia Simon. In 1949, the family moved to Huslia from the old village of Cutoff. Franklin lived the subsistence way of life around Huslia by hunting, fishing, gathering from the land and trapping, first as a child, then as a young man and finally as an elder. In 1962, he married Lillian Koyukuk from the village of Allakaket. Franklin and Lillian... Read More

Sarah Simon Sarah Simon

Sarah Simon was born in 1912 to Annie and Jimmy Koyukuk in Allakaket, Alaska. She grew up there and around Wiseman/Bettles. From a very young age, she was raised by her Aunt Big Susie, but Susie passed away when Sarah was 12, so she went back to her parents. Sarah grew up living the subsistence lifestyle, hunting and trapping with her father, and traveling to seasonal winter, spring, summer and fall camps to carry out specific subsistence activities. In the early 1930s, she married Lee Simon... Read More

Pollack Simon, Sr. Pollack Simon, Sr.

Pollack Simon, Sr. was born in 1939 to Sarah and Lee Simon in Allakaket, Alaska. His father lived near Allakaket by the Koyukuk River just like his father before him, and his mother was from Allakaket. In 1942, his family moved to Hughes where he was raised. Pollack has lived a subsistence lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping his whole life and has had a long career as a dog musher. He has also worked as a heavy equipment operator and has been a crew boss on local firefighting crews... Read More

Hazel Strassburg Hazel Strassburg

Hazel Strassburg was born in 1926 in Galena, Alaska. Her father was Charlie Evans, and mother was Elizabeth Evans from Koyukuk. Except for some brief times in Koyukuk and Nulato, Hazel lived her whole life in Galena. Hazel married Harvey Strassburg, an FAA employee, in Galena on June 15, 1945, and together they raised three children. Hazel was known throughout the region as a very independent subsistence hunter and fisher. She tended several fish nets in the summer, ran small traplines in... Read More

Henry Titus Henry Titus

Henry Titus was born in 1915 in Kokrines, Alaska. His mother died when he was eight and he was raised by his father and extended family. He was on his own by age seventeen when he began supporting himself by cutting wood, cutting fish, trapping, and living off the land. In later years, Henry and his wife, Agnes, lived in Tanana, Alaska. Having spent his life living a traditional Athabascan lifestyle and being a fluent speaker of his Koyukon language, Henry happily shared his knowledge with... Read More

Bill Williams Bill Williams

Bill Williams was born in 1937 to Susie and Lavine Williams at the late Joe Beetus' fish camp twelve miles above Hughes, Alaska. His Denaakk'e name is Huds deh odnee, which means "a voice coming from a distance." He grew up in Hughes with his sisters, Alice Ambrose, Rita Koyukuk and Margaret Williams and his brothers, Ralph Williams, George Linus and James Williams. The family moved with the four seasons, and when his father was home from the Utopia mining camp, he would take Bill hunting,... Read More