Hazel Apok was interviewed on April 3, 2002 by Bill Burke in Fairbanks, Alaska while she was in town working with the Project Jukebox team at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on the Kiana Village History Project Jukebox. In this interview, Hazel talks about growing up in Kiana, getting an education, and learning to live a traditional subsistence lifestyle. She discusses changes she has seen in the environment and with the animal populations, as well as how the community of Kiana has changed through time and he younger generations are faced with new challenges. She also talks about hunting, trapping, and traditional Native food.
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Introduction and family background
Growing up in Kiana, education, and getting married
Spending time with her parents, looking for caribou, hard work, and attending grade school
Changes in animals, environment, and climate
Hazel's father, tribal council, living in the old days, and stories
Parents worked hard to provide food, leaving home, and not learning about certain things
Using dogs in the old days to help with hard work and teaching children the basic survival skills
Observing the environment to understand the changes
Challenges to the younger generation and learning the basic skills
Provide input to project, interviewing more elders, and finding out information about moose and caribou
Trapping rabbits, eating favorites foods, treats, and keeping busy
Naming of Hazel's daughter, being adopted, and being blessed with a big family
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Bill Burke: Good morning. This is Bill Burke. It is April 3rd, 2002, and I'm here with Hazel Apok from Kiana. She's down here at the university. She has been working on the Kiana project. Hazel is going to give us some background on her life and she's going to talk about changes in the environment and animals and how her life differs. And she's going to give us some information on her grandparents. So, Hazel, if you want to start with a little background, that can get us going. Hazel Apok: Okay. My name is Hazel Apok. My Eskimo name is Tigautchiaq. I was named after my adopted brother's first wife, her name was Hazel. She died in October 1950, and I was born January '51. My adopted brother's first wife happened to be a sister to my grandma where I was in the home, the log cabin that I was born in, in Noatak was where -- where my Grandma Nellie Woods in Noatak -- I'm confused now what I'm talking about. But I was born to Melva Woods, she's now Melva Collins. She had a daughter a year and a half older than I was, and my grandma couldn't take care of two little babies. So that year there happened to be a Friends Church quarterly meeting in Noatak, and my brother and my father asked my mom to take me home. So I was either three -- three months old or a year and three months, I still have to verify that, but they took me by dog team from Noatak to Kiana, and I was raised in Kiana by Johnnie and Martha Smith, now Martha Downey. As I often tell people, my grandmothers are Nellie Woods and Grace Bailey (?) from Noatak. And I didn't know -- because the people that adopted me were a lot older. My mother was 40 when she adopted me. I didn't know all of my grandparents from the time that I grew up with -- I did know Nellie Baldwin, my grandma that adopted -- Martha. My adopted mom. People often -- people that know me when they ask about my mom know to -- to say by name because I have four different mothers. The mother I was born to, the mother that adopted me, my biological father's wife, Edna, and then, of course, my mother-in-law who has me call her mom. So when I say mom, you know, they -- they often ask me which one. I have 18 brothers and sisters, 20 with the 2 in the adopted family. I've been blessed with a -- a large family. I often hear stories about my grandma Nellie Woods walking from Noatak to -- to Barrow carrying -- she had some dogs -- pack dogs with her, you know, that would carry stuff. When I get a chance I would like to -- to get the full story about that trip, but it really interests me. I think it's just awesome that somebody that was needed somewhere -- I believe her husband was working up -- up North. And it just fascinates me that she would get up and go and walk.
Hazel Apok: I grew up in Kiana (map). I went to grade school through 8th grade in Kiana. I had to leave the community to go to high school. The first year I went to Mount Edgecumbe High School, which is in Sitka. The second year I went to Victory High School, and that's about 95 miles from Anchorage. It's a -- the Baptist missionary back home paid for my tuition and whatnot to attend my sophomore year, but couldn't afford to do it for my junior year, so I ended up at Lathrop High School here in Fairbanks. After my junior year that summer I attended Upward Bound at the University of Alaska. That year they had six scholarships to go to high school in Hawaii, and I was one of six chosen to go. So I ended up graduating from Kailua High School in Hawaii. After -- after high school graduation I attended college - Fort Louis College in Durango, Colorado. At the age of 16 I had lost my adopted father whom I was very close to. And when I look back on it, I -- I realize that it took me five years to grieve for my father. And because of all of that that was going, on I dropped out of college and went back home to my mother who was living in Kotzebue at the time. I got married and -- and had children and lived in Kotzebue for about 11 years. I got a divorce and left Kotzebue and ended up in Barrow working for the North Slope Borough for 6 and a half years, but living in the region for 9 years, I spent some time in Atqasuk and -- and in Barrow. And in one of my travels in working for North Slope Borough I had to go to Anaktuvuk Pass. And in the wint -- during winter you gotta come through Fairbanks to go to Anaktuvuk Pass. So I met my current husband here in Fairbanks. And with his work and whatnot, we ended up back home in Kiana, and I believe it was in the early '90s when we moved there. So I'm back home now and I'm really enjoying it. I really -- I look around in the community now and wonder why I -- why I ever left or why I ever stayed away for so long. I think my rearing was unique in that I grew up with an older couple. I only knew how to speak Eskimo until I had to go to school. Just listening to the other elders and the different time lines would jog my memory because I have vivid memories about things that happened as a as -- a baby, literally, and I believe it was because my parents talked to me, you know, all the time and kept that memory alive about different things that happened. I remember things when I was probably about a year and a half old and two years old. I remember when I was little enough for my grandma -- Nellie Woods came to visit in Kiana, and she held me and carried me up to the airport. We had to walk up the hill, and I was little enough for my Grandma to -- to carry me up. I remember looking around and -- and I had to be that young. Just from listening to Ruth Sandvik's interview, she said her -- her mother died in 1953. And things happened in my home -- I was born in '51, so things happened in my home and I was only two years, but I -- I remember them to this day. And I -- and I, like I said, I remember these things because I believe my -- my parents were a lot older and they repeated these things, you know, and kept the memories alive.
Hazel Apok: I didn't know any English when I went to school. We had our spring camp, our summer camp, and during the winter we roamed the area looking for caribou. I used to have a rabbit sleeping bag where my feet - I would keep our sourdough so that we would have -- we were huge eaters because we hunted and fished and did a lot of hard work. We had, like, four squares a day. Huge breakfasts. We would stop and have maybe a -- a light lunch somewhere. Maybe a, a light dinner, and then our -- just before we went to bed we would have, you know, another meal again. I remember my parents telling me when we ran into some caribou on -- they spotted some caribou far away and there was a hill, we were -- we were on the river, but there were some hills around us. And my mother explaining to me that caribous looked like this, they have big eyes. Me and your father are going to -- not corral them, but were going to go on each side of them and try to get to -- them to an area where it will be easy to reach. They didn't want to get them up on the hill where it would be hard to carry or far away from where we were. They -- they wanted to get the caribou close to where we were at and she explained to me that I had to sit still, that if I did see a caribou, not to be frightened. I remember that very vividly because that caribou -- that one caribou did come along, you know, and we looked at each other. And it was good that they talked to me about that because I don't know how terrified I would have been. I remember running into some people and them telling us about Laura Geffe passing on in Kiana (map). So we took our dog team to the village, and then I remember -- now I'll have to go back and see when Laura passed on because that will tell me how old I was when we -- when we went back to the community for that event. But in their travels -- in our travels we would -- I guess my parents came to realize that I had to go to school. So around five years old they settled down below Kiana and built a log cabin. A nice huge -- to me, in them days, it was the biggest log cabin around. It seemed like the biggest. Maybe it was because I -- I always lived in tents. And living in this seemed like a mansion to me, a huge log cabin. Now, when I look back on it, it was probably an average size one. But we built the log cabin and I started going to school. Fortunately, we had some good teachers. They had their families with them, and I remember competing with the schoolteacher's daughter. My parents encouraged me to learn. And my sister -- oh, my adopted sister Lulu had to go away to White Mountain to go to school. I -- I'll have to go back and try to find out why a lot of our kids went to White Mountain for school, but she studied to be a licensed practical nurse. But she would go home -- when school was out she would go home. And the things that she learned would meld with my parents' teaching about, you know, what makes me today, what she learned from the Outside and what my parents knew about surviving, you know, made me who I am today. Back to the teachers - we had good teachers that cared about us, that -- that taught us -- that anyway, that got that competitive spirit in me. I was always competing with the schoolteacher's daughter. And I would go home and proudly tell my parents "I got an A plus and Susan got an A," you know. And that kind of thing. You know, I had all kinds of encouragement. My second grade teacher was a perfect penmanship. You know, her -- her -- her writing was real plain and real clear and I would emulate. And today people will say, oh, I sure like your -- you know, your writing. And that was because I learned at an early age, you know, to -- to try to do it that way.
Hazel Apok: What did -- what else did I need to talk about? Bill Burke: You can talk about changes in the environment, you know, from when you were a small girl to the changes that you see today. Hazel Apok: I remember -- let me -- let me start from today. When I lived in Barrow, we would send for caribou from our region because the -- the caribou up there is from a different herd. They have more gristle in them, you know, it was just a lot different. So we would send for caribou from our region. But I noticed that maybe the herd, the Western Arctic Caribou Herd and maybe the Porcupine Herd are -- maybe they are cross - mixing, because our caribou today now are starting to have more gristle in them. We find a lot of lesions, a lot of bugs, a lot of things in them today that we never had when I was growing up. I don't recall, you know, having deformed fish. Just this past summer Fish and Game has a project in Kiana where they collect fish and then they would distribute it to the -- to the community. And that fish does not look like something I remember when I was growing up. So I know there is changes in our animals. And I know -- I know there is changes in our environment from when I was growing up. And I need to study it more or get more information, you know, from the elders around me because they have more -- they are a lot older than I am and they know better how it was and how the changes have evolved and why it is the way it is today. I remember going home, walking home from church with my parents and it'd be almost like daylight, you know, because we didn't have electricity back then. It -- it felt like the moon was a lot brighter. Today it's -- you know, it seems to be far away. And somebody told me that's because we have electricity now in our town. You know, we have more lights. And it still just seems odd to me that the moon seems to be further away or darker. I don't know. Bill Burke: What do you think about the temperatures? Hazel Apok: We seemed to have cold -- longer colder spells when I was growing up. I was told I was the best dressed girl in town because my mother outfitted me from fur from head to toe. I had always wore mukluks. That's why I have flat feet. I wear big shoes because, you know, I grew up with mukluks. I have flat feet and that's why it's difficult. And in fact, I'll wear mukluks in the community today and people will look and say, "Wow, you are wearing mukluks." Which is -- you know, people are forgetting how to sew, and people are forgetting how to -- how to dress themselves to keep warm. And I believe I was really dressed from head to toe because we -- it was a lot -- colder spells were longer them days. And I remember that -- being cold, and it doesn't feel as cold now than it was. I still wear mukluks and I still have some parky. I have a parka that -- a muskrat parka -- that my mom made for me when I was nine years old, and it still fit me except for the sleeves. The sleeves are the only thing. It had a sunshine ruff, you know. And then I remember these things because the people around me, you know, talk to me about that. And I'm glad they do and I'm glad I'm back at home and they remind me because I have such good memories of -- of growing up. I -- I was really blessed.
Hazel Apok: A lot of -- a lot of my peers are deathly afraid of my father who passed on when I was 16. And it was because he was looking out, you know, for their best interest, and my peers didn't think he was at the time there. Still, even today when they talk about him -- you know, they still -- I could still hear the fear in their voices, you know, and to me, that's my beloved papa. He was part of -- part of what we consider now a tribal council, I guess. When there is somebody that did something wrong in the community, they would make the individual go in front of the elders and the elders would pass judgement. I don't recall ever anybody being banned from our community, but it's my understanding that it has -- it has happened in the past. And that -- that's some of the things I learned in going to tribal court conferences and talking to different people about how life was in the -- long ago. Course, them days we didn't have television, we didn't have -- we -- we did have radios and we'd get stations here from Fairbanks. We would have to do things differently them days to be able to get different radio stations. I remember listening to KSUI in Nome and KJNP here in Fairbanks up in one of our camps. We never grow up with TV. We worked from the time we got up until the time we went to bed. We -- we worked to survive. We had to heat our homes, we have to get water, pack water. We had to get wood for heat. We had to do different things. We'd barter to get the staples that we needed like coffee and rice and sugar and flour. I remember my father bringing furs to the -- to the -- to -- we used to call him Blank -- Blankenship, Ruth's father. You know, to trade for -- for the things that we -- that my father and them, you know, started liking coffee, started liking tea. Sugar was introduced, you know, so. We used to trade. We didn't have a full cash economy or even a mixed cash economy. Bill Burke: So life has really changed? Hazel Apok: Uh-hum. It's really changed. Bill Burke: From then. Hazel Apok: Today I see our young kids, they are not lazy, they just don't know, you know, how we lived. They grow -- they grow up just flipping a switch and their lights are on. They go turn a few knobs and the water flows, you know. They don't know how hard it was for us to get water into our homes or to heat our own homes. My -- my father -- our house was a gathering place for -- for all the other elders like Richard Glover, Lauren Black. Some of the Westlake boys would just hang around just to go listen. Teddy Johnson. But Richard Glover was our storyteller. I used to fall asleep on my -- at my mom's feet listening to them tell stories. Some of 'em -- to me when I look back on it now, some of them were tales, you know, about different things. For their entertainment after they did all their work to survive they would gather and tell tales, you know, tell stories. A sense of humor was important, so they would weave stories, you know, that would -- that would have us laughing and rolling around. I wish I could remember all those stories. I wish I knew then how important it was to record it -- you know, if I had a recorder I would have recorded all them stories. Of course, there were stories about different expeditions or different things when people went out hunting, especially in the winter, and they would come back and say -- we would update each other about what happened during the past year. But our place was a favorite gathering place.
Hazel Apok: My parents were -- were rich in that they gathered food, I mean we can't have the kind of food that my mom prepared. My father did all of the hard work outside the house, hunting and bringing it home, and my mother did all the hard work preparing it, harvesting it, and putting it away. But we used to -- we used to eat every bit of the caribou. And there are some delicacies that I don't know how to make, you know, using intestines and liver, and you know, all. Some of the white people, like the Friends Church, missionaries that came along, used to come and request certain foods from my mom because she knew how to prepare these, what are now delicacies. One -- one I remember that I liked was blueberries mixed with whitefish eggs and a little bit of seal oil, and the white people really liked that. I mean, there's different ways of preparing our foods that I grew up with that I don't know how to do today, you know, and that's because life has changed so much. I -- I left for twenty-eight years from my home, from my region due to marriage and going to school and raising a family. And I -- I didn't stay home to learn how to do -- how to make akutuq -- how to, you know, prepare foods that I really like. And that's what I'm spending time doing right now, just with basics, you know, with dried fish and dried meat right now. Eventually, I want to -- I want to get back to -- and me and my cousins will get together and compare notes about, you know, "how did your mom do it?" and my "mom, I think, did it this way." So we are teaching ourselves and we want to go back to how it was when we were growing up. We thought, I think -- I think we thought as we were growing up that life was pretty hard. We wanted to escape. We would -- we would have high school coming home in -- in the latest styles and listening to the latest music, you know. And I think that the -- the grades just above me were the ones that would come back with all of this is where my age group wanted to be like them. We wanted the latest hairstyles and the latest clothes and, you know, the latest foods that they learned to eat, you know. We wanted that. We wanted to be like our older brothers and sisters. And I think that's where, like, in -- what year was that I went to high school? In the early '60s, '64 I think is when I went away to high school. And the old -- the kids older than me would have started going away to high school probably 1960 because it was those years. And the -- the kinds of schools that I'm talking about that changed it are like Chemawa Indian School in Oregon, Mount Edgecumbe. I think it's different from when my sister Lulu, who's 15 years older than I am, when she went to school in White Mountain, her age group, you know, is a lot different than those in between her age group and my age group because they went further away and learned different things and came back with different things.
Hazel Apok: We -- we grew up with -- my -- my father had 20 dogs and my brother had 22 dogs. We had huge dog lots. We had to catch food for -- for our dogs. Prepare their own foods on top of our own -- you know, the foods that we eat. We used the dogs to travel to go gather more food. We don't have that anymore in our community. We -- we want to travel fast and get there quickly. We want to do things -- everything is a quick fix. Everybody wants instant satisfaction. You know. And somebody like me that remembers all the hard work, you know, just to survive in the past, we want our grandchildren to know. We want them to learn because our world is constantly changing and we want them to learn the basic survival skills that we grew up with. We want them to -- to learn how to hunt and fish and, you know, maybe go back to wood stoves or -- because of the high price of living out there. The fuel costs, the electricity. Everything costs money. And we don't have all -- a lot of jobs in our village to pay for these things. So it's like an ever changing world that, you know, I know that the elders that I live with now want -- want our grandchildren to acquire these basic skills because we know soon we won't -- maybe we won't be able to afford fuel. And then we'll -- that way our kids -- our grandkids won't know how to heat their homes and how to survive. And I think that's a trend that we are going into now, and I hope to be a part of it.
Hazel Apok: Spring breakups were big events for us because it would tell the elders what kind of summer we were going to have. I didn't know, you know, what they were looking at is important, but when I came back I learned that you have to look at change -- changes in the weather. You have to watch the first snowfall. You have to watch the first winter storm that comes in because when the grass lays a certain way or the -- the -- what do you call -- what does my brother call it? Or how the berms are created, you know, from the first winds. He would look at those things and -- and it'll tell him what kind of winter to expect and what to prepare for the winter. So these are some of the things I would like to learn from our el -- especially from my brother, you know, what -- "What do you look for?" "What does it mean?" They have the knowledge about what it means, I don't. These are some things I would like to learn. But they know just from looking at the stars where they're at which direction to go. What we might look at for -- for, you know, miles or not knowing in the dark which way we are going, they -- they look at the stars. They learn, they observe everything around them. And as I'm growing older and I've learned how to observe. I'm learning more, you know, about my own life around me.
Bill Burke: What do you think is the greatest challenges for the younger generation coming up today? Hazel Apok: Learning the basic skills of survival. They've got to learn that, you know, pretty soon we are not going to be able to afford the price of fuel. You know. I remember when we used to have 2 and 3 cent stamps, and now it's 34 cents, you know. And the price of everything has gone up. And I don't see the cash economy in our community to pay for these things. A lot of the illegal things that occur in our community is because of economics, you know. They want electricity, they want to watch TV, they want their Gameboys, they want, you know, everything that costs money, but the cash economy isn't there for it, so they enter into illegal activities. What was your question again? I got sidetracked. Bill Burke: I was just asking you what -- Hazel Apok: The biggest challenge? Bill Burke: The biggest challenge for the younger generation coming up today. I mean, you said yourself, you are trying to, you know, learn the traditional knowledge that maybe you didn't have when you were younger because you, basically, maybe weren't paying attention or something, like -- like us all. So what do you think it is for them? You know, are they going to be searching like you're searching now 20 years later? Hazel Apok: Uh-hum. Just learning basic skills. They don't know how to pack water. They don't know how to make a hole, you know, how to -- and there's certain ways, or certain places. You know, the way the river flows, they just know where the best water is. I mean, you could argue with no -- maybe one elder will say no, that's the best place or the cleanest place or the purest water. You know, the kids don't know what kind of tools it takes to make your water hole and how to protect that. You know, the ice will get real thick when it gets cold. So you learn how to take care of your water hole so that you're not continually going through thicker ice as it thickens over the winter. How to fish under ice. You don't see, you know -- there are a few elders that will take their grandchildren out and they are teaching them. There's Walter Cook Sr., and he's teaching the third -- you know, the proper procedures in how you set up camp and where you take care of your waste, which side of -- you know, different things. And I was real impressed when I went fishing with him just how he's learned -- it -- it instantly brought back memories about what my parents said to me, you know, you can't go -- you can't go do your -- you know, take care of your -- your anak or your pee there, you've got to do it a certain way. To where you watch where the animals normally travel or where they fly or where they swim. You are continually watching your -- that your food, the food chain, and respecting it. And -- and, you know, making sure you don't get in their way because you want to be able to catch them. I mean there's stories and myths about why we did certain things and we've lost it, you know, we've lost that knowledge, I think. And that's why I'm excited about talking even to these elders, our kids to my parents. They watched them growing up, so they are trying to remember, too, how things were. And we feel sad about all that we've lost, but we also know that we have to begin somewhere. And I think the biggest challenge will be to open our grandchildren's eyes and let them know why we continually push education to 'em. You've got to get trained. Something is lost somewhere, something is not sticking with our kids. They are not going off to get trained, they are not doing the things they should be whether they want to be working, you know, as teachers or doctors or biologists. You know, there's so much that we could be doing for ourselves. And the kids are lazy, I guess, or they don't have the vision or are not thinking ahead about what -- what it's going to take to survive. And those of us that are a little bit older that have experienced how our world changed in such a short time. In the 20 years that I've been around, or the 50 years that I've been around, so much has changed and our children aren't seeing that. They've grown up, you know, with -- with what we have today. Flip a switch, turn a knob. And because we see things changing, we -- we think that they are going to have to go back to their basic skills of wood heating and packing water. Something's got to give somewhere unless our kids suddenly decide one day that they are going to train to be teachers, they are going to train to -- what I would like to see is our own surveyors, our own operators -- heavy equipment operators, our own -- instead of always importing these skills to our community, I try to tell our kids younger than me to get trained, you know. When they complain about a certain white man, I say, well, you can do it. You got to go get trained. You know, we don't have to have -- have to import all these skills#8230; So it's going to be a long, hard struggle, I think, to get our kids to think differently because we raised them differently, you know. That's the challenge I see.
Bill Burke: Do you have any other comments that you would like to talk about? Hazel Apok: Yeah. I have a lot, but I -- I would like to see how far this project goes and still provide input, you know, to it to make it more well rounded, I think. But I'd like to hear more from our elders. I still have to go back and interview some more elders, but they have stories to -- to tell. Like I had mentioned before I didn't realize in interviewing the elders a month or so ago -- I didn't realize that we didn't always have caribou, we didn't always have moose. That -- that when I was -- up until the age of 5, I didn't know that's what we were doing was going out to where the caribou were. I mean, like the Noatak Flats or the Brooks Range (map) or wherever, we had to travel a long ways to -- to get caribou. And in listening to -- to Roger and Tommie and Walter and Leo and them speak made me realize later on in the mid '50s was when we finally start getting the herds closer to our community. And one of the elders, I can't remember who it was, said that the moose were driven to our area because of forest fires in the Fairbanks region. And -- and I always thought we always had caribou or moose. My -- like my sister who is 15 years older than I am remember the community as a whole would go out and hunt rabbits because rabbits are harder to catch. They would set up a net, you know, at one end and the different people from the different areas would -- I keep wanting to say "corral the rabbits" until they ran into the net. But one of the elders that I'm going to interview when I go back will start laughing the minute she thinks about one incident that happened. But that's how they caught -- besides snaring them, that's how they would catch rabbits -- they eat only rabbits and spruce hens and muskrats and all the small, small game in our area. The elders that I'm going to be talking to have some stories, and I can't wait to hear what they are.
Hazel Apok: I remember having my own rabbit snares and going out after school, going. My mom would help me go set them and after that, you know, they were my -- my snares. I'd have to go check on 'em and bring them home. My -- my papa would make me -- my favorite treat was for him to cook macaroni and put a can of vegetable beef soup mixed with it and then Pilot Bread cracker with butter. I mean, he -- they took so good care of me. They knew I was out in the cold for a long time and I had lunch who knows how long ago, but they would feed me when I got back. But that was my favorite food. My other favorite food was mom's rice with raisins and cinnamon, and milk. You know, I mean, these were -- were delicacies for us because all we had were all Eskimo food. I mean, now I love that Eskimo food, you know, but growing up, that was all that we would have. When the barge came in the summertime I could practically smell the apples and oranges on that barge, you know, that were coming in. And we lived just below Kiana, so the planes would fly out -- the float planes would fly out. The mail plane would fly out right in front of our house there and the barge would pass right in front of our house. And I used to make orange juice with orange peeling. And the trick was to have it sit for three days in a glass and then taking the peelings out and then putting in sugar. And that was a treat having orange juice that way. Of course, today our kids just, you know, open a carton and it's there. It's not something you took pride in making, you know, it was something for yourself as a treat. Richard Glover used to come with a packet of Kool-Aid, those unsweetened kinds, those little packets, and a can of milk. I used to have -- or my sister had one of those handmade whippers or blenders, a manual blender. And I would spend probably a good 40 minutes trying to whip up that milk, get tired, switch hands. And then after that milk got all whipped up I would put the Kool-Aid in it, and that was a treat. What else can I remember as treats? What we -- you know, all of these things that we did took manual labor. I mean, they kept us busy from morning until night. And today we just continually see our kids being bored, and that's because we don't keep them busy from the time they wake up 'til -- 'til they go to sleep. So we have to get creative and find ways to keep them busy. And basketball is one. Tournaments. We have -- basketball is huge, I think, all over in rural Alaska. I'm not one of 'em, but maybe because my kids weren't -- weren't into basketball. But we -- I'll go to a game occasionally. But I know it is huge in our community. I love to watch sports on -- on TV. One time when I was living in -- in Kotzebue with my first husband I had the TV on and I heard a familiar name on TV, on NFL, and I looked up and that's when I got hooked on NFL. I used to go to school with a Russ Francis, not -- not as somebody who I knew, but somebody whose name, you know, I knew. He went to school in Hawaii and he played for the New England Patriots. But that just because I went to the same school he did, you know, I got into football on TV. And just maybe within the last five years I've gotten into March Madness -- college basketball -- only because we have some Alaskans at Duke University. Trajon Langdon some years back. Now Carlos Boozer. But you know, you feel like a kinship to these people. Mark McGuire used to play -- play baseball. I don't really watch baseball, but because you have some kind of kinship with these different people who are famous, I get into it. You know, I like watching sports on TV. Bill Burke: Well, I think you gave us some good insight to your life. Hazel Apok: Uh-hum. Bill Burke: It's going to be a good addition to the -- to the project that we are doing. Hazel Apok: Uh-hum. A real exciting part of it.
Hazel Apok: I didn't get to know -- I had named my daughter Sheryl Marie. My daughter is the oldest of my two -- and my son. And I didn't know I named my daughter after my two younger sisters from my father's side. The older one I have, there's Cathy, Louise, Grace, Sheryl and Marie. And my daughters name is Sheryl Marie and I thought that was interesting. I didn't get to know my biological father's family until after I was married -- they started coming around. And now I -- I love visiting with them. And I am forever grateful I was adopted. I'm forever grateful that I grew up with an elderly couple that's keeping the language alive through me, our language, that I can remember things about how I grew up and what it took to survive them days. And it's all about survival in a harsh environment. And I'm -- when I hear stories about adoptees and -- and all the things that they go through, you know, their emotional state, I am grateful that my parents always told me from day -- from as long as I could remember that I was adopted, you know. My husband -- my current husband is adopted, too. And he's going through something, you know, that I am trying to help him with. He feels like he has been abandoned. And some of the things that he goes through now are because of his current -- or his adoptive family and how he was raised. We compare notes. I mean, it's just -- I just feel so blessed with the huge family that I have. I just feel so blessed with the life that I have had. It's been an amazing one. And I'm real grateful. And I have a lot more work to do though. And I'm grateful to be a part of this project. Bill Burke: Well, thanks Hazel. Hazel Apok: Uh-hum. Bill Burke: It was nice listening to you. Hazel Apok: Yeah.