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!

John E. Cook
John Cook

John Cook was interviewed speaks on October 8, 1991 by Dan O'Neill and William Schneider in Vail, Colorado where he was attending the 75th anniversary meeting of the National Park Service. In this interview, John talks about his tenure as National Park Service Director for Alaska in the mid-1970s. He recalls with fair precision personalities and events from this time, and speaks with authority on his program to hire "good" people and to be responsive to local uses. This interview is from the perspective of a director who served at the height of conflicts with different interest groups and faced these challenges as he came to them, and prided himself on honesty and straight answers so that people knew where he stood. He also talks about his time working in Washington, D.C., which offers a perspective on these subjects. John discusses planning for the early national parks created by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980, dealing with the unique conditions of Alaska versus the standard National Park Service policies, managing for subsistence, and why he thinks national park lands are so valuable.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 91-22-31

Project: Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve
Date of Interview: Oct 8, 1991
Narrator(s): John E. Cook
Interviewer(s): Dan O'Neill, Bill Schneider
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.


1) Personal background

2) Coming to Alaska.

3) Hot issues in Alaska when he came up as Area Director

4) The Carter administration's Monuments Proclamations and their significance for the national park system

5) The strategy of the Monuments Proclamations

6) Early planning for the anticipated new parks

7) The "ranger task forces"

8) Unique conditions in Alaska challenged the traditional National Park Service approach

9) His ideas about living "with" the land, and "off" the land, and the perpetuation of subsistence lifestyle values

10) National Park Service attitudes toward the non-Native subsistence users, and the concept of history that underlies this attitude

11) Why national park lands are valuable in Alaska

12) Negative reactions to the National Park Service and some solutions to the problem

13) Whether high-level lands and resources officials took into account the needs and sensibilities of local residents

14) Leaving Alaska

15) Subsistence, and the future of subsistence

16) How he feels about his tenure in Alaska

17) Some of the Alaskans who lived and worked in the park areas who were important to him

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


Section 1: Cook, John\ Gillette, Meredith\ Great Smoky Mountains|

Section 2: Cook, John\ Curry, Dick\ Weyland, Bill\ Alaska Area Director - chain of command\ Andrus, Cecil\ Whalen, Murray\ National Park Service - history in Alaska\ Swem, Ted\ Henson, Al\ Rutter, John\ Alaska Task Service - conflicts with Area Office|

Section 3: Carter, Jimmy\ Antiquities Act\ protests - effigy burning\ Andrus, Cecil\ Cook, John\ Bane, Ray\ Mallott, Byron\ protests - quotes\ Native Alaskans - NPS policy\ subsistence users - definition\ Hartzog, George\ D-2\ ANCSA\ D-2 - story about writing\ Hickock, Dave|

Section 4: Andrus, Cecil\ cultural values - legislation\ Gravel, Mike\ Brown, Bill\ Eagle - attitudes\ "caribou clatters" - KCAM\ Waller, Sarge\ Antiquities Act - protest\ Boone, Jack\ protests - signs\ Cook, John - story about Eagle\ bush living - cabin fever\ Scott, Elva\ Warnock, Doug\ Eagle Village\ Waugh, Julie|

Section 5: Andrus, Cecil\ Antiquities Act\ Curry, Dick\ Jones, Randy\ Bolen, Buff\ Stephens, Ted\ regulations - subsistence\ cabins - regulations\ ANILCA|

Section 6: "The Funny Book"\ National Park Task Force - credibility\ National Park Service - planning\ Lake Meredith National Recreation Area\ Brown, Bill\ Belous, Bob\ Bane, Ray\ Bradley, Zorro|

Section 7: Bureau of Land Management - regulations\ "ranger task forces"\ Watts, Dave\ "national parks are forever" - quotes\ Moore, Dave\ regulations - enforcement|

Section 8: National Park Service - philosophy\ Pinkley, Boss\ Canyon de Chelly National Monument\ National Park Service - attitudes towards\ Hammond, Jay\ "permanent pipeline" - parks\ subsistence issue\ Native people - subsistence\ subsistence - non-Native\ Alaska Task Force - sensitivity to subsistence\ Brown, Bill\ Bane, Ray\ Belous, Bob\ Stenmark, Dick\ Brown, Randy\ subsistence lifestyle - rationale|

Section 9: lands - human impact\ indigenous peoples - lands\ Black Elk - Lakota\ Ghost Dancers\ river people - impact\ subsistence lifestyle - cultural value\ LaFitte, Jean\ Mormons - Utah\ social experimentation\ bush living - rationale|

Section 10: National Park Service - concept of history\ subsistence - future of\ ANILCA - goals\ trespass - regulations\ cabins - trespass\ federal lands - settlement\ traplines - conflict\ Native Americans - history|

Section 11: resources - studies\ park benefits - economic\ tourism - parks\ Young, Don\ National Park Service - attitudes toward\ National Park Service - stories told about\ parks - Alaska hire|

Section 12: Buffalo National River\ Boone, Jack\ Mihalic, Dave\ National Park Service - personnel selection\ Cook, John\ Bering Land Bridge\ Shaver, Mac\ Moore, Dave\ National Park Service - cultural preservation|

Section 13: legislation - federal lands\ Koegel, Sandy\ Brown, Bill\ Belous, Bob\ Bane, Ray\ National Park Service - field personnel|

Section 14: Cook, John\ "out of political nose"\ "political baggage"\ Watts, James\ cabins - permits|

Section 15: Bradley, Zorro\ National Park Service - subsistence policy\ Cook, John\ Navajo National Monument\ Chaco Canyon National Monument\ hunting - "fair chase"\ hunting - level of technology\ ANCSA\ subsistence - future of\ Shaeffer, John - NANA\ Native American - treaty rights\ subsistence - new users\ Webb, Melody\ subsistence dynamic - continuum\ ANILCA\ cultural values - management|

Section 16: Conner, Roger\ Alaska - attitudes\ Hickock, Dave\ Mitchell, John\ Cook, John\ preservation - philosophy\ cultural values - preservation\ subsistence policy - ethnic versus cultural definitions|

Section 17: Bunch, Ken\ Duffy's Tavern\ Wrangell-Saint Elias\ Ellis, Bill\ Glennallen\ Native Alaskans|