Emma Ramoth was interviewed on February 7, 2018 by Susan Georgette and Karen Brewster at Emma's home in Selawik, Alaska. In this interview, Emma talks about growing up at Niliq on the Selawik River, living a subsistence-based lifestyle, going to spring camp, hunting muskrat and selling furs, fishing, and rafting wood downriver for firewood. She also talks about other people and families who lived at Niliq and at other camps along the Selawik and Tagragvik River, and about experiencing earthquakes, floods and fires. Emma's description of her early life on the river and the many other people living in the country offers insight into a lifestyle that has disappeared and the many traditional places that are no longer used. Her stories also demonstrate changes in the environment and the fish and wildlife populations.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Land Use and Environmental Change, Selawik National Wildlife Refuge
Date of Interview: Feb 7, 2018
Narrator(s): Emma Ramoth
Interviewer(s): Susan Georgette, Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Karen Brewster
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Personal and family background
Being a community health aide
Growing up at Niliq
Other people who lived at or near Niliq
Spring camp at Qallivik, and other people at Kuugruaq, Tivlich, and Ikaaġiaq
Muskrat hunting, fur trading, and winter trapping
Rotman's store at Niliq, traveling by boat buying muskrat furs, and value of muskrat furs
Wage employment and earning money
End of muskrat fur trade
Living in Niliq year round, and moving to Selawik
Other people living at Niliq
People living on the Tagraġvik River and at Tivlich
Seasonal lifestyle between Niliq and Nauyaqtuuq, and fishing at Nauyaqtuuq
John Olson and others who lived along the Selawik River
Rotman's store at Niliq, and others who collected fur from trappers on the rivers
Rafting logs down the river for winter firewood
Graveyard at Niliq
Traveling, trails, and trade routes on the upper river, and early contact with non-Natives
Techniques for hunting and trapping muskrats
Drying and processing muskrat hides
Wolf hunting and changes in bear population
Hunting and trapping muskrats, including from a kayak, and Iñupiaq word for muskrat
Trapping mink, red foxes, and rabbits
People living on the Tagraġvik River, including Ernest Loon, Mabel Berry, Elmer Ballot, and William Foster
Living at John Brown's place on the upper Selawik River
Meaning of place names
Other kids at Niliq, mining, and shaman story
Fishing at Selawik
End of spring muskrat camps and fur trading, and Rotman's store moving to Selawik
Floods, earthquakes, and fires
Traditional uses of muskrat
Sheefish, geese hunting, and muskrat hunting
Catching whitefish in a ditch, and grayling fishing
Reflecting on Niliq as a good place to grow up
Boats and boat travel, and getting supplies
Differences between older and current lifestyles
Changes in moose and caribou populations
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KAREN BREWSTER: Today is February se -- EMMA RAMOTH: Seven
KAREN BREWSTER: -- 7, 2018. This is Karen Brewster and I'm here with Susan Georgette and we are speaking with Emma Ramoth at her home in Selawik, Alaska for a project for the Selawik National Wildlife Refuge. Thank you, Emma for ta -- EMMA RAMOTH: Thank you KAREN BREWSTER: -- taking time this afternoon. EMMA RAMOTH: Thank you.
KAREN BREWSTER: Um, so to get us started, tell us a little bit about yourself. When and where you were born and those kinds of things.
EMMA RAMOTH: Okay, um, I'm 80 years old now. I just turn 80 years old December 31. So I born up river um -- and my midwife was this Mrs. Clark.
And my uncle they -- they didn't come down for Christmas 'cause uh -- my mom pregnant and they don't wanna leave her so they stay up there for Christmas.
There's lotta people usually, um, have houses up river all over in order to survive.
So they have sod house up there or log cabin, so that's where I -- Katyaak. I born Katyaak (confluence of Selawik and Tagraġvik Rivers). So I'm 80 years old.
So I got married 1955 and I have 7 children, we adopt 2 of them. We raise some of our grandchildren and we raise Kevin, my -- my husband's niece son, so --
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you wanna say anything about who raised you?
EMMA RAMOTH: Um, yeah. I was adopted to Walter Ballot and Dora Ballot. Uh, my adopted mom was Dora Foster and then my dad was Walter Ballot.
And I'm the only child -- adopted child. My real mom don't wanna give me away but she have nothing, nothing. There's no income at all in those days. Only trapping and -- only trapping and that's it. And sewing, too. She know how to sew, but they told her she might not to -- took care of me good so they told her to give me. My real mom is my adopted mom's auntie, thats her auntie.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. And then you were a health aide here in Selawik for a long time? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. So, me and my mom move down here in -- I thought I'd be schooling 'cause I'm behind 'cause we didn't have house in the village.
But when they -- when I start schooling this teacher get me for babysitter. They have two kids. Warbelow. They live in Fairbanks all these years, but he was -- died. I don't know what year. Crash. His wife died, too. But they have children. The daughter have store on the way to Chena (Hot Springs). Cindy.
So I -- I get more behind and I give up. And then from there probably mischief, and so that's why I didn't have education anyway. And so, I got married and I have Ruthie and Diane.
So they used to have Mother's Club, and so they start talking about health aide. Those the one that work -- didn't have report so they told them to get 'nother -- 'nother womans to-- they used to call them, uhh -- instead of health aide something else.
All we do is home visit. Nothing, no office, no clinic. We have few stuff in teacher's office like penicillin, bicillin, st -- ointment, st -- like Gelusil, that those like Tums like. And tetracycline. That's about --
So they -- they get us. I think six of us. Main one is my sister-in-law, Laura Norton. Laura Ramoth used to be, before she got married.
And then, so we always just run around for her. Volunteer. And take care of the sick in home and go tell her what's going on. If it's really kind of emergency, she'll go there herself and take care of it. And then we always take turns assist her. Two of us. Two of us each time.
And then later on there was a (phone rings) health -- health club. And then they raise money and they usually pay us dollar a day. It was -- We always can't wait after two weeks $14.00. So we could buy flour. $7.50 fifty pound. And then we'll buy few stuff. And then so we go on.
KAREN BREWSTER: What year -- what years were you a health aide?
EMMA RAMOTH: Uh, I usually -- you know, they get me 1958, but I didn't get to do stuff 'til '61. 1961. I just, you know, run around. I find out I had records in hospital they -- they chose me 1958, but I didn't do nothing much. And --
KAREN BREWSTER: You retired when?
EMMA RAMOTH: 2000. But I real -- they let me fill out again and start sending me to Kobuk and Deering and Ambler and Shungnak. Kiana. Smaller villages.
When the main health aide go training, you know, the one that stay home, they don't know how to start the I.V. and suture and stuff. So they'll send me there to teach -- um, I mean, you know, be there.
And so this city council had a letter to send -- two -- I mean, one health aide to Kotzebue. Before that, they usually send them two. Laura used to go for something like ETD or --
And then, so I go. I didn't know -- I go for this. I have to complete 12 weeks.
So anyway, I had training in Kotzebue for two weeks. There's people from Wainwright. Shishmaref, Nome area. And I find out I'm not the only one that don't know stuff.
Seems like I -- I -- I -- encouraged me. I know how to take blood pressure 'cause when field doctors start come around that year and he teach us and I know how to blood pressure. So I -- Gee, I know more than these women. So it encouraged me.
But some of them, they're educate -- more educated than me. So -- so next group, Mildred with other -- other health aide.
So they plan us to send us to Anchorage, so I went for three weeks. No -- no income and I always have little bit money. And when I go store to Penney's, I spend it all. I -- I get excited.
Anyway, we always eat from hospital with ticket. And then lunchtime, they cook in that cafeteria and we'll eat. But breakfast in hospital. And -- and supper.
So our teacher really strict. If you're late like 3 minutes, they'll send you home. There's people from Yukon, too. And from Bethel area and Mekoryuk and Kodiak some place.
So I made it. Scary, when you first go to Anchorage. That time it was -- Anchorage was small. 1969. I knew it was small, but to me it's big, really big.
And so we'd go on, volunteering. And so she just start getting some kind of money, probably doctors holler for us -- for us to get something and -- 'cause we do everything.
We help dentist clean every child -- school kid -- every school kids. Springtime and fall time, weighed them, hemoglobin -- And clean their teeth. Fluoride.
So they start paying us $180 a month. Man, lots of money for us, me and Mildred. I start buy washing machine, beds. And then, from now on uhh -- they start sending us to Kotzebue, to Nome.
But between meetings, they all send us to Anchorage. So mostly we start going to Nome 'til we complete 12 weeks, so we're certified. That's how I go on.
And there's no Maniilaq (Association). So Norton Sound (Health Corporation) start paying -- paying us. And then, like probably -- not much, but it's lots to us in those days. So um --
KAREN BREWSTER: Should we talk a little bit about Niliq? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, okay. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Well, what -- so you were born at Katyaak, you said? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Where were -- What part there? EMMA RAMOTH: That -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Right, so where exactly is it on the -- which side of the river would that be? EMMA RAMOTH: This side. Where the -- you know, it's got sand.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, where the sand is? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, so on -- If you're going up on the left side? Or on the right side, if you're going up? EMMA RAMOTH: Uh, you'll go there -- right there. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Right? EMMA RAMOTH: Then you'll go Tagraġvik and then Kuugruaq. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah, okay, okay. EMMA RAMOTH: Right there.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah, cool. And then your adopted parents were living at Niliq? EMMA RAMOTH: Niliq, yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Ok, so what do you -- can you tell us -- What do you remember about Niliq growing up there? Who lived there and -- EMMA RAMOTH: Seems like the way I heard it in stories, seems like since long time people's been living there. And Nauyaqtuuq where they always fish a lots.
There's -- you could reach Nauyaqtuuq through that Inland Lake. And we -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah, we know -- Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: And have a lot of fish.
And then my -- my dad's parents usually dog team from Niliq to back there. Back and forth.
And they make big ditch for dog food. And they make lots of dried fish. They make suvatchiaqs (suvatchiat)(dried whitefish roe) with fish oil. Gather berries. 'Cause they have --
My dad, Paul Ballot, Lucy, Clara, Elmer. Youngest one died maybe when he was maybe 19, somewhere around there.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Those were brothers and sisters? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah, okay. EMMA RAMOTH: Brothers and sisters.
So my grandma have sister with Lena. Lena Larkin. That's Rosa Stalker's grandma. And then the -- Rosa's grandpa is related to Clarks.
And when -- when I knew there was Lena Larkin and them live across. And this way, Charlie Goode and Lawrence Foster and then next Johnny Foster. They have sod house, too. Big one. And then us.
And there's my -- I thought they were real my grand -- grandparents. Here I was adopted here -- there's lotta grandchildren in Selawik. I thought, oh, I'm the only one (laughter).
And then next door, Leslie Burnette, and there's Rotmans. But I -- I didn't catch there were sod house for Jonas Ramoth and them. Parents, too, from across there, but I didn't catch it.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: They were across the creek or across the river or right in that whole -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: You know that little -- Just Niliq right there. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Here's warehouse, across -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. EMMA RAMOTH: But, I didn't catch it. But I see, you know, where they used to live. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh. EMMA RAMOTH: They probably take it, that's why it didn't -- I didn't see it.
My mom used to say I used to be really bossy. 'Cause there's how many young mens there. Ballots, my parents -- my dad's first cousins.
And I knew springtime we always go camp just one bend. My dad want to stay in clean ground in springtime, so we always move there. And then --
SUSAN GEORGETTE: What's that place called? EMMA RAMOTH: Qallivik. Qallivik. And it used to any kind of birds hollering, you name it. Ooh.
And so, I always follow my mom muskrat hunting. And that old man always go camp with us, too, that Charlie Goode.
And so, my -- my mom always let me trap and I always have like how many in -- how many, like twenty of my own. I knew. So I'll spend it myself. And later on, I knew -- I -- I know.
Springtime, before breakup, after they fishing down there 'cause they have to have dog food, fishing down there. And when it's really mushy, everybody always start going to camp. Like some of them always go early. Like the one that have a house up there they -- they already be there already, but the one that gonna go camp, they always come around when it start to get mushy.
There's Irvin Russell and them up there, and Mitchells up there, Kuugruaq. Kolhoks. Tivlich, Ruby's auntie and Lottie and Lloyd Davis. Their auntie. Their husband was already died when I get to know the world.
And below Niliq, Goode -- Sarah Goode's husband, Luke Goode. And her husband. They only have two -- two children, but they adopt Clarence, David and Mary.
And then below in Ikaaġiaq, Lucille. Their mom, Jacob and Lucille and -- They all stayed there. They have house, too.
And in Tuqłumaaġruq, mostly Skins. Thomas Skin and Topsy Ramoth who always have house that way.
And then Ikkuiyiq people always have sod house back there, too. People all over in order to survive.
And I knew people always rafting after season over, and I knew they always get lots of muskrat 'cause we have to go every day, every single day. Me and my mom will have to walk, and then if you get muskrat you'll take care of 'em and dry 'em and really take care of 'em.
And the meat, too. You hang 'em for dog food or you could half dried and cook 'em.
So my grandma don't really hunt much. She like to set net and make lotta paniqtaq. Before it breakup on the side -- on the side when there's water on the edge, she'll put net and start to catch lots. She always make real good dried fish before it break up.
And then when people start coming down with rafting, lot of people like even Benjamin Sampson, parents, grandparents, they used to live in Uqquqłiq in Selawik -- they used to call it Uqquqłiq.
They always come from there and lot of people stayed Kuugruaq. They always start coming. When they have passed us, too, in Shungnak, they always just go that way and stay with whoever stay around there by Kuugruaq.
And rafting, poor thing, nobody take care of them. They always work hard too -- in order to be pastor in those days.
So -- so year round they charge to Rotman's and then to Archie Ferguson. So like mostly Irvin Russell, my dad, and Mitchells. Later on Marion Kolhok, too.
They always get like -- lots, like 1000 muskrat or some years 500. So -- so, they always pay their bill. So if they have leftover, they'll buy -- buy casees -- buy -- You know, for -- for summer.
So cloth was 25¢ a yard. When I get to know milk, 10¢ each. Five pounds sugar, dollar and a quarter. Blazo, five gallon, I think in those days chea -- mo -- cheaper. Later on around $7.50, 5 gallon. Fifty-pound flour probably cheaper.
My grand -- mother-in-law used to say it usually cost two -- two fifty, fifty pound. In her younger days. And so --
KAREN BREWSTER: In your -- your -- your time you're talking about is the thirties and forties? Forties and fifties? EMMA RAMOTH: Forties. Forties. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. EMMA RAMOTH: 'Cause I born 1939, so I get to know stuff maybe 1946 -- '45, forget (laughter). See something, forget.
And in wintertime, they'll trap. Fall time they'll trap minks, and then pay their bills, too. Or foxes. There're not many long time ago, 'cause people catch them so much.
No caribou, but there's reindeer herders though. And -- so we -- my grandparents always catch lots of ptarmigans, lots of rabbits. We don't starve, and our dogs have lotta food. So that's --
So, Louie Rotman, they always talk about he start in Kiana. So when they have Sally and Marjorie they move. And then they start in Upinġivik.
I don't know what kind of store they have, little one, so they start big -- kind of big store in Niliq with two bedroom, big kitchen, and store. And big warehouse, it's still standing. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: And one sod house for seal oil.
And then I don't know what year they move down here. So when they moved down here, so my dad usually take care of that store.
Springtime, as soon as breakup, with his boat with engine. They'll travel up, 'cause there's people, you know, they're ran -- they ran out of groceries. Like sugar, coffee. So they really be glad to --they really be glad to --
They usually call them collectors. They go -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: With the boats? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh. EMMA RAMOTH: They go up for collecting. It -- you know, it -- it -- Even though we hear collecting, it doesn't bother us. (laughter) It's -- We thought it's just a name. They're never really collecting, but they knew people need groceries up there.
KAREN BREWSTER: Were they collecting furs in exchange for the groceries? EMMA RAMOTH: The one they already dry it, they -- they'll -- you know. KAREN BREWSTER: They'd trade them? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: I mean, did they say like "ten muskrats for a bag of flour?" Or they gave you money? EMMA RAMOTH: Uhh. Uhh, no. No money at all. So -- I -- I see Louie Rotman always say when he's gonna -- when they wanna buy something he'll tell them, "This much muskrat -- like some year -- some spring it will -- they'll -- muskrat will two dollars. Small one, dollar fifty.
They -- they always check, you know, with no holes, and perfect, $2.50 or 2 dollars some fall -- some spring.
So -- so they mostly take care of what they need and then give them like a sack to for down payment. So -- even Archie Ferguson, but I don't know how they do 'em, but one time I follow Clara (Rotman), Louis, and my dad was engineer and so -- Seymour. Seymour still lived down there. Bunny, me, we always mischief in the boat, and scolding. Let Clara scold us, and --
I don't know where Margie and Sally -- I don't know where they were. Maybe with their auntie down here? With Beulah Levy and Myra, their auntie.
And so, we don't mind when we sleep on the floor in the boat. It doesn't bother us.
So later on we living -- live like that. I don't know what year -- what year. Ralph should remember this, they start send them to Egegik, Larsen Bay for -- to work on cannery.
And they always make -- they work hard without sleep. Hardly sleep. $500 about a month. And they always come back and then we always pay our bill. So that's how, you know, we start seeing money.
And then, my mom when she sew for somebody, she always make money. Not real lots. And then when I babysit, that teacher always give me a personal check.
Anyway, there're silver dollars, and then I have $8.00, but my dad put it away. I never think I have money 'til I -- 'til I maybe 19 years old. I finally get it from my dad. I never think about it.
I mean, before that I make money myself in Kotzebue, work in restaurant. And when I work in restaurant in Kotzebue $2.50 a day, but I live with them. Free meals, free -- so -- So, my first start to get money from babysitting for teachers, and then health aide and sewing.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: What happened to the muskrat? Did they just stop buying them or there weren't many? Or they weren't worth money or what happened? EMMA RAMOTH: There're still, but they -- they're not really buying them. Nobody -- nobody -- I knew later on they send them to Sears Roebuck and order some stuff. Pack 'em real good and mail 'em. Mai -- earlier, they mail run dog team in wintertime and later on -- In my days, maybe once a month, and then later on once a week mail plane.
Wintertime they land to river. Summertime float plane. So early -- in early, when somebody get sick, they'll take 'em with dog team to Kotzebue. If -- if -- If they happen to while plane was arrive when somebody's sick, they -- they take 'em with plane. But most of the time they take them with boat and dog team, even though they're sick. Gee, tough people in those days.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. And you -- so your family lived at Niliq year round when you were --
EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, year round. That's why I didn't have education. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Right. EMMA RAMOTH: We didn't have house in this village. (phone rings)
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So until -- What year did you leave Niliq year round? EMMA RAMOTH: So me and my mom move down here 19 -- At first, we have house up there with John Brown and them in Selawik River, so my mom --
Before that, we stay in somebody's house, let me school, but in order to survive, too, she always go -- go camp some place in order to -- to, you know, to survive for rabbit and stuff.
I didn't have -- I didnt have really year round schooling. I would've have when we stay in Rotman's. We stay there in Rotman's house, store, but no teacher 1948.
KAREN BREWSTER: That was here in Selawik? EMMA RAMOTH: No teachers. KAREN BREWSTER: No teachers? SUSAN GEORGETTE: Hm. EMMA RAMOTH: So it's just kids play whole winter long.
KAREN BREWSTER: So when -- when did you last live in Niliq? What year did you leave? EMMA RAMOTH: Maybe '48. But every spring I always go to my dad and stay with him. They separate 19 -- 1949 or somewhere around there. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. EMMA RAMOTH: They separate.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And then who -- who was the last person to live year round at Niliq? EMMA RAMOTH: My dad and her mom. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Ok. And so how long did he live there, would you say? EMMA RAMOTH: I think my dad finally move down here maybe sixties. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, wow. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And were those other people you mentioned still living at Niliq, too? EMMA RAMOTH: No, no. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Or they -- He -- Just him?
EMMA RAMOTH: Johnny Foster and them move down here 'cause they make log cabin, because the kids have to school. And Lawrence, too, they have to move. They -- their -- his wife's dad got house. They got place to stay to let my uuma school.
And Lena Larkin and them move. Before they move, her husband died from heart attack, I think. So she moved down here, too, Lena. And then Homer Larkin and Charlie. She -- he have house, so he move, too.
So Leslie and -- Leslie and them, too, move. They want Mary to school, too. Their daughter, Delbert's wife, Mary Mitchell.
So -- so Charlie's boat go back and forth. Charlie Goode. Old man. So, and this old man, John -- John -- Gee, what his name? Sarah Sampson's dad.
He -- he live up there, too, for a while when everybody move down here. In Uqquqłiq, someplace up there. And he always go back and forth.
And Harry Mitchell and them always go back and forth, too. SUSAN GEORGETTE: And they were on Tagraġvik, or they were -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Tagraġvik, yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So did they ever live there year round, too, or they usually went back and forth most of the time that -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Back and forth.
So, most of 'em didn't have education, too. Like Charlie hardly school 'cause he like to hunt with his dad. Vera have maybe -- I don't know up to what grade. She have little bit education. I don't know about Grace, her younger sister.
Rosa like me, too. She -- I think she's school more than me. But she was too shy, and didn't learn much. But anyway, she go training for cook. She -- she work in school. Like me, she -- she learned what she go training.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And Tivlich, too. Tivlich is -- is above Niliq, huh? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, above Niliq. And it -- it -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: But below Tagraġvik? EMMA RAMOTH: It's kinda way up, but through the ground it's little ways. 'Cause they usually go store walk.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, is it back off the river, Tivlich? Or is it right on -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, they have to go back there where it good place, I guess. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah.
EMMA RAMOTH: I didn't really get to see Tivlich. Ralph always say, "This is Tivlich." But, you know, it grows so much. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Hard to see. So Eunice Clark -- Eunice Clark have a son, Virgil Clark, and Sarah, and then her sister, Aglivak, she didn't have kids. She helped --
Their brother, his wife died early. Lottie and Ruby and Lloyd Davis mom, she died while they're small. So -- so this auntie and Eunice take care of these.
So Lloyd go drafted to army. So Lottie got married to Elmer. Ruby got married to William. So they come down, too. No more Tivlich.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. And -- and -- KAREN BREWSTER: I want to just adjust the microphone. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh. KAREN BREWSTER: I'm sorry.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And then that -- So when you said they went by dog team from Niliq to Nauyaqtuuq, they go in the wintertime, you mean, or -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Summertime, too. SUSAN GEORGETTE: They could go summertime? EMMA RAMOTH: Summertime, too. And, you know, they'd go back and forth so much, before me, I guess, that trail is good tundra -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Tundra.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So it's a tundra -- And it's not not very far really on land, right? EMMA RAMOTH: Kinda. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Kinda? EMMA RAMOTH: You know, kinda far
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And so they'd go on the tundra with their dogs -- EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: -- and they'd fish at Nauyaqtuuq, and then live at Niliq in the winter?
EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, whole summer long. Springtime, they'll go to Niliq. Muskrat hunting, and then come down here to pay their bill and then get groceries and go back up, maybe August first part. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, go to Nauyaqtuuq? EMMA RAMOTH: And then go back there and start fishing.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh. And there's good whitefish come out of those -- comes out of those creeks. And they'd make one of those little dams, where they -- EMMA RAMOTH: They -- long time ago, they usually block the creeks. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Right. EMMA RAMOTH: Springtime, after fish go in. And then when they go there, they'll open it and then they'll -- KAREN BREWSTER: They'll catch them? SUSAN GEORGETTE: Dip 'em out? EMMA RAMOTH: Dip 'em out, yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And store 'em in holes in the tundra? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: And then they'd go back and forth and get it in the wintertime when they needed fish? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: And -- you you couldn't do that at Niliq? Nauyaqtuuq was the better place for that? EMMA RAMOTH: My mom make big ditch for fish, too, for our dogs. And, you know, put -- set net in the river in Niliq. Make paniqtaq from Niliq. And --
So Sally (Rotman Gallahorn) and them grow up mostly just fish and rabbits and ptarmigan, too. Probably buy reindeer here and there not -- not much.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Did other people live at Nauyaqtuuq besides the Niliq people go back and forth? Like Selawik -- people in Selawik would go there, too, or it was mainly the folks that lived at Niliq? EMMA RAMOTH: Mainly -- mainly -- I don't know which parents started off. My grandma's husband or my -- I think my grandma's, 'cause she used to talk about that story, John Olson's.
When their parents died, she start walking with two sisters. Just when they start, one of 'em died on the river. Starve.
And -- and him and her sister reached Niliq, and -- Long time ago -- long time ago, they -- You know, they -- if somebody die in the house, sod house, they leave that sod house, everything in it. They -- they think they'll catch the sickness. Make them more poor.
And they feed the sister and little bit, not too much. So -- so John want to walk to Nauyaqtuuq and they start walking, but the sister died between Niliq and Nauyaqtuuq again.
So he reach -- he sleep one night. So my grandma used to say, "He's younger than -- younger than them." Little -- maybe two years or something? So when he come, they make him grass house, just live -- live -- let him live out there and feed him 'til he get strong.
So when he gets stronger, they let him move to themself. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Hmm. EMMA RAMOTH: So -- And so they -- my aana used to say they're just like their brother. 'Cause they raise --
In Sarah story, when you hear it in radio, she misunderstood. That part, seems like she understand -- she -- he reached there after Amianiq and Lena grow up here.
My aana used to say they always play. 'Cause he's just younger than them, they always play.
So he grow up there. He grow up with that family. So he got married from Kobuk lady.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And he was Iñupiaq guy from Selawik, John Olson? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And who's you aana then? EMMA RAMOTH: Amianiq. Amianiq. What's her English name, Amianiq? SUSAN GEORGETTE: That's okay, KAREN BREWSTER: Amianiq is fine. SUSAN GEORGETTE: That's good. EMMA RAMOTH: Amianiq Ballot. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. Yeah.
EMMA RAMOTH: And then husband is Aglu. I don't know. We call him taata so much, we never care -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: -- about name. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Taata. Taata.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Now did you tell me one time that John Olson had a cabin way up Selawik River? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah
SUSAN GEORGETTE: He was living there or prospecting or what was he -- EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, he's -- Yeah, they have engine boat, too. So they only have Sarah and they, you know, they travel around. Move around. You know, where good place to live. Easier. And in Selawik River.
And Irvin and them used to stay up there, too, so that's how come Glenn never didn't have education, too.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: I think somewhere up river on Selawik, there's a lot of Russell allotments. Like all near -- EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: So did they live in that area? EMMA RAMOTH: Close -- close to Fish and Wildlife camp. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: It's close around there. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. That's where they used to live all the time. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Ok. EMMA RAMOTH: Visit -- visit to Tivlich all the time. David Goode always visit all the time from down below. Too bad no VHF in those days. (laughter)
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And was the Rotman's store open year round? Or was it only open in the -- EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: -- spring? EMMA RAMOTH: At first it open year round, and then later on there's -- we -- when it's cold, I think there should be stuff, but it always be closed wintertime. So springtime, my dad will take care of it, and summertime close.
So they bring that log cabin to Kotzebue and then Sally was -- have it. They finally tear it down two years ago, or whenever it was. When I see it, "Oh, no." Outside of Rotman's. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh yeah, it'd been there a long time. EMMA RAMOTH: They -- I think NANA bought that land. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh.
KAREN BREWSTER: So they brought the -- the store building from Niliq to Kotzebue? EMMA RAMOTH: Log cabin.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know why they built a store in Niliq?
EMMA RAMOTH: Probably lotta help. And then that's where people will business with fur. And then Archie have store down there where Greg Hanshaw have house. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, I wondered where Archie's place was. Ok. EMMA RAMOTH: They have big store, too. How many warehouse? He got plane he always fly. But they separate, too. I don't know what year. Maybe '40's?
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So there was Archie, Rotman's. Were there other traders that came through Selawik at that time? EMMA RAMOTH: I don't think so. They're's the only. I mean --
KAREN BREWSTER: Did Rotman and Ferguson both go by boat upriver and collecting? EMMA RAMOTH: So Archie Ferguson always have lot of helpers, too. Hadley was from up there, from Kobuk. And Hadley's sisters and brothers move down here. And uncle and his wife move from up there.
They find out, you know, easier to live down here, even though it's -- You know, woods are not easy, but easier to live. Lot of fish, 'cause Selawik have year round fish.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: What did people eat up on Tagraġvik? There doesn't seem to be a lot of fish there. Or is there? EMMA RAMOTH: Like rabbits, ptarmigan, and it always have mud sharks (burbot) wintertime. They could -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Ok.
EMMA RAMOTH: So what they put away in summertime -- Long time ago, they worry whole summer long for winter. They put 'em away for winter. And when they come down in springtime, they probably, you know, pick berries from down here and go back and forth.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And people came down on log rafts, is that right? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Before motors? EMMA RAMOTH: Long -- There's picture in IRA. Ah, people used to raft and they have wood in wintertime. They don't have hard time like right now. They have -- some of them don't have, but they'll help whoever have logs and they always give them and trade and --
KAREN BREWSTER: So they'd go up river in the fall time and cut the wood, and then they'd raft it down?EMMA RAMOTH: Springtime before breakup they'll cut and collect drift -- driftwood and make -- Some families always make two of them. For dogs and then for them to live. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. EMMA RAMOTH: And then --
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So they go up with dog team, and then they come down after break-up. KAREN BREWSTER: Down after break-up. SUSAN GEORGETTE: With a raft.
KAREN BREWSTER: How long would it take to raft down? EMMA RAMOTH: While the current is strong when they raft, they come down early. But, you have to really hustle and really work hard. For the log cabin, too, some of them will, you know, drive -- make a raft for the log cabin.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Um, would you be comfortable talking about who's buried at Niliq up in the graveyard? EMMA RAMOTH: Um. My aana's brother. Or -- or -- or uncle. And there's Lena Larkin's husband. My grandma and the husband. And then, there's first Seymour (Rotman) there. Before us, older than us. And maybe next to Junie or -- ? I -- I forgot.
And Johnny Foster's three kids buried up there. And Leo, my aana's younger son. And from Tivlich, too, if they died, they buried them there. And that's about -- They buried Lena's husband there. Uh, I think -- No. There's no Effie's kids there.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And so Niliq and Nauyaqtuuq are both old places that people lived there long before your time? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, yeah.
The way my grandma talk about Maniiḷaq, they used to go trade from up river. And one time, Maniiḷaq come and my aana see him. He's not tall man. Not too small. You know, he -- she sees -- And then, he related to one of his parents. Not really close, but related.
And then, there always be trail, 'cause they go trade. SUSAN GEORGETTE: To the upper Kobuk? Or the -- Kiana? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, from upper Kobuk. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Ok. EMMA RAMOTH: With a -- with these -- what do you call these lamb, white with -- ? SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, sheep? EMMA RAMOTH: Sheep. They get 'em in mountain and they --
Or what they catch, they always go trade fur for dried fish, dog food. So they how they survive. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Hm. EMMA RAMOTH: 'Cause mostly more hard times up that way. But they were really hard workers. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Hm, mm.
KAREN BREWSTER: So Niliq and Nauyaqtuuq were along that trail that they would take? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. They'd go through Niliq and go back there.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And did people trade with the Athabascan side? Did -- do you -- did you hear stories of that? People that would go on the Koyukuk side or -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: I -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: -- with Indians or -- EMMA RAMOTH: I don't know. SUSAN GEORGETTE: -- never. Ok.
EMMA RAMOTH: While -- while I was -- You know, this white man come around for reindeer herders. They -- You know, government was take care of the reindeers long time ago. They always ship lotta groceries for reindeer herders.
And when he come around to Niliq, I'll be scared to death. (laughter) I'll be under the blanket. (laughter) I bet I let him feel bad. Um, and uh -- I got stuck. Maybe question would let me go on?
KAREN BREWSTER: So, the first Rotman was Louie? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Louie. KAREN BREWSTER: Louie. EMMA RAMOTH: Louie. KAREN BREWSTER: He started the store at Niliq? EMMA RAMOTH: They say he start in Kiana and then when he come around he start in Upinġivik. Maybe little house. So he move to Niliq, make big, big store there. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm-mm. EMMA RAMOTH: With two counters on the side. Lotta shelves.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. Did -- so when people hunted muskrats, did they use rifles or traps or -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Both. Uh, if they go with kayak, they'll come home hundred muskrat a night, if they're lucky. Depends. Depends. Twenty, forty, thirty, you name it. But, when -- when they really start -- when there's lots -- Some area always have -- springtime it always have more down here. Or more up there. So -- Like Irvin Russell and Harry Mitchell, they always get hundred a night. The son help them. Here their wife skin 'em. And dry 'em. Kids help. Their children help.
My daddy usually get about sixty when they're lots, too.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: They hunt 'em at night? EMMA RAMOTH: Evening. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Evening? Oh. EMMA RAMOTH: Every day, too, I go. Walk from Niliq to way back there.
And then, Clara and Mary and Leslie will stay in Iggiaq (Throat River). She'll walk, too, and we'll meet -- We'll meet -- meet back there every day. SUSAN GEORGETTE: That's a long walk.
EMMA RAMOTH: Laugh and hunt. We hardly -- we don't get much, like four or five each time. But there's $2.50. There's lots to us.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And you can skin 'em real quickly? EMMA RAMOTH: Ah, it doesn't matter. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: If you let them overnight, they'll be easier to skin.
KAREN BREWSTER: So, were -- were you hunting them in the water from the lakes after it melted, or there was still ice? EMMA RAMOTH: You could start in April trapping. So, they all start come out. KAREN BREWSTER: At their holes. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So, you trap them at their holes? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, yeah. So when they start swimming, you start hunting 'em with a -- when -- you'll set trap anywhere, too. And on the -- on the way, if you could check it coming back.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And then there's lot of those stretching boards, or drying boards? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. You've got to have like hundred -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: You just put 'em all on those boards and -- EMMA RAMOTH: Hundred. Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: I'd say so, yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: With -- they always make with -- they make -- themself, they make lumber with logs and then they make 'em with stick, too -- Nail 'em.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And they'd dry in just a day or t --? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, you -- you have to dry 'em and flip 'em half a day. In evening they'll dry. And take 'em off and then hang 'em outside, 'cause they have these little white -- little white bugs. What they call it? KAREN BREWSTER: Like lice? EMMA RAMOTH: Pau (water beetle). We call 'em pau. They're small white -- from the ground. Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh.
EMMA RAMOTH: So, we leave 'em outside when it's sunshine, so they'll fall. We don't want to keep 'em inside the house 'cause you'll get itch. So, when some ladies when they breastfeed, when they skin the muskrat they have to put cold cream so they won't crawl. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, well, huh. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. They're little, small little white -- You know, they're all over in mud. You can't hardly see 'em.
KAREN BREWSTER: But, so when you -- when you first dry the skin, you dry inside? And then you put it outside later? EMMA RAMOTH: Uh, no. When it's sunshine, you'll put it out. KAREN BREWSTER: You put the boards out? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. But when it's raining, you'll -- you know, put 'em -- we always have -- they always have like tent -- like use it like warehouse like. You could put 'em out there, too.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And what's the Iñupiaq name for those half-dried muskrat? What would you call those? EMMA RAMOTH: Igamaaq -- We always like call 'em like fish igamaaqłuk and muskrat igamaaqłuk (half-dried). Muskrat, kivgaluk. Kivgaluk paniqtaq. Kivgaluk paniqtaq. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Hm-mm. EMMA RAMOTH: Man, they taste good.
Mary used to say, "What's the best food, you think?" If some -- She says, if somebody ask her. "Dried muskrat!" SUSAN GEORGETTE: I've never tried one. KAREN BREWSTER: So that was -- EMMA RAMOTH: But, you've got to hang 'em when it's fresh. Fat. Got to be fat, too. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Hm-mm.
KAREN BREWSTER: S -- Do you know what muskrat fur was used for? EMMA RAMOTH: They -- KAREN BREWSTER: Why they were buying them? EMMA RAMOTH: Uh, you could use it do anything because they're -- they don't shed. They're -- swim like beaver. And if you tan 'em, you'll use 'em for parkie. You could make 'em -- You could make 'em mittens. Anything. You could make cap, too, out of it. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So people here used them as well as selling them? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah. So, if they have enough they'll save for kid's parkie.
Hard to get wolves long time ago, I notice. Hard to get wolverine, even. So, the one -- hunters, they have to go between here and Huslia. Uummaq or Tagraġvik. They don't catch 'em around here. Some days, they catch 'em, but not much. Now there's so many. Eating our moose and caribou, and rabbits.
And dangerous, too. When somebody hunt, they have to sleep in boat nowadays. They're danger, now. I was thinking to let Bert go get -- sod house, but I -- I start thinking, arii, too many wolves. I'm worried. They got to do something. They're dangerous nowadays.
Last week, they run around in village early in the morning, so every kids, the parents have to bring them (to school).
Even hardly any bears long time ago. They have to go to the mountains in order to get bear, but now there're lots. Grizzly bears, brown bears.
KAREN BREWSTER: What about muskrat? Are there still a lot of muskrat around? EMMA RAMOTH: Some years they're -- when the ice too thick, hardly any in springtime. But they always come back. Right now there is. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: And same thing rabbit. When it get warm weather and all of a sudden get cold, they'll die, too. But they always come back.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And men and women and everyone hunted muskrats, right? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Children? EMMA RAMOTH: Even children. SUSAN GEORGETTE: That'd be a lot of money. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: In those days.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, when you were hunting, you said you trapped them (phone rings). But did you also shoot them? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Once it was open water, 'cause they were swimming? EMMA RAMOTH: They're swimming or they always eat by the ground and you'll shoot 'em. Some days when there's lots you could get two of 'em in one.
KAREN BREWSTER: And then you said that they used the kayak. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: To retrieve them? Or to go farther into the -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: If you -- You got to know how to use qayaq (kayak). Not everybody use qayaq. But you got to know how -- I -- I -- I use qayaq, too. Me and my auntie always. She use her uncle's qayaq and I use my aana's. My mom have one, too, but I don't know why I don't use it.
KAREN BREWSTER: And then you would shoot the muskrat from the kayak? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And then go pick 'em up? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. One time my dad, he -- qayaqing and get muskrat. Tell 'em we're -- (to someone who comes into the room)
I -- Talk mixed up, but -- Sorry. SUSAN GEORGETTE: No, no. It's good. KAREN BREWSTER: It's great.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Well, we -- Or do you want me to go on or did you have something? KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I had a ques -- more on muskrat. What's the Iñupiaq word for muskrat? EMMA RAMOTH: Kivgaluk. KAREN BREWSTER: Kivgaluk.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And what about a muskrat's skin? What would you -- like -- EMMA RAMOTH: Uh, muskrat skin, kivgaluk. Kivgaluk, tavra. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, okay. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah.
And then falltime, they'll -- when it's open, they'll put traps, too, trying to get mink. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, mink? EMMA RAMOTH: Mink, yeah. But there're not real lots. If you're lucky, you'll have like twenty, thirty a year.
I got books in there, Irvin Russell and them diary, how many catch in one night. They're really interesting reading. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Huh.
KAREN BREWSTER: Did they get more money for mink than for muskrat furs? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, more. More. But there're not lots 'cause they're nice -- nice --
KAREN BREWSTER: What's the Iñupiaq word for mink? EMMA RAMOTH: Tiġiaqpak. Tiġiaqpak. And then fox, too. They cost lots in those days, but there's not many. Kayuqtuq. Fox. KAREN BREWSTER: The red fox? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Red fox.
And we have jack rabbit (Alaska hare). They're real good for parkie. Rabbits are good, too, but jack rabbit is the best.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: That place where Ernest Loon lived on Tagraġvik, what -- EMMA RAMOTH: He always talk about Aniġgulaaq. It's by -- You know, Forks (Second Forks). Someplace close -- close. Aniġgulaaq. Nice creek with lot of fish, too.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh. Did he spend part of the year there, or he camped there? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. He say they have house there with his grandpa. SUSAN GEORGETTE: And that would've been before -- like when would that have been? Like in -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Before he got married, maybe. SUSAN GEORGETTE: So like 19 -- EMMA RAMOTH: '30s. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Thirties? EMMA RAMOTH: 'Cause when I born he helped there in Katyaak. Before he got married.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. Okay. I've heard about that place, but I didn't know who really -- So, he lived there with his aana, you said? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. EMMA RAMOTH: Probably, you know, long time ago people, you know, live where they could survive.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And Mabel Berry lived -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Tagraġvik. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. When she was a girl, right? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, with his (her) parents, yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Whose fam -- what was her name before she was married then? EMMA RAMOTH: Kolhok. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. That's right. EMMA RAMOTH: Mabel Kolhok. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah.
EMMA RAMOTH: Atchak was adopted out. She was Clara Hess. But she come back when she was teenager. Maybe his (her) adopted parents died?
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And then the place where David Griest's allotment is up there? I've heard Ralph talk about how you come down the mountains. Like if you're going to Hot Springs by David Griest's place. EMMA RAMOTH: He got cabin Selawik and he used to go trap there. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. EMMA RAMOTH: So we always -- on the way to Hot Spring we usually stop there, have coffee. I think one time we sleep there. I forgot. Nice place.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, he had a house there? Up there? EMMA RAMOTH: No. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Or just -- EMMA RAMOTH: Just tent. SUSAN GEORGETTE: -- tent. For trapping? EMMA RAMOTH: I wonder why he never make cabin?
SUSAN GEORGETTE: It's a nice place, though. We've been by there, but I've never really -- just looked around a little bit. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah. And then you -- by that camp you'll go across that Selawik, and then start -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. Oh, so that was for trapping. Okay.
And then I remember in the fall, I talked to you and Ralph about those old cabins that Elmer Ballot and -- EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. It -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: -- William Foster had.
EMMA RAMOTH: It's close to -- 'cause they trying to mine in those Iñġisugruk and they make log cabin in Selawik. Both of 'em. William and Elmer. After they stay in that big lake, and -- I never see that big lake.
Summertime, man it was smoky. Hard time. And Elmer come down, and Ruby and Lottie -- They only have two kids each, I guess. Summertime with dogs. They're tough.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Walking, you mean, or with rafts? EMMA RAMOTH: Stay in summertime. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh.
EMMA RAMOTH: So, Elmer have to go to Kotzebue to do paperwork or something, and leave them. No communication. Nobody go check on them. But these two ladies are -- can survive.
But it was too smoky. There's fire someplace and they always have to stay inside the mosquito tent. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, my. Huh. How long did they -- EMMA RAMOTH: 'Til it get windy.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Huh. How long did they live up there trying to mine like that? For very long? EMMA RAMOTH: Not too long. Just maybe four, three years or something.
When me and my mom have house up there, too, with John Brown and them, they get lots of fish with dip net and they get lotta sheefish in September.
And I remember John snare caribou. I didn't know caribou's always -- go by. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Way up Selawik River there? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Falltime. He must've justa luck.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: They snared them? They had -- EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Gee. EMMA RAMOTH: Just one. Just one. So we have fresh meat.
No moose. No beaver at all. If somebody want to have beaver, they have to go between here and Huslia. Trap 'em. Or trade or something.
Hard to get beaver long time ago. They always -- season can't be open, too, all the time. They have to hide around.
And so Ruby and them have twins, and one was die from TB, so they bring him to Niliq. They bury him there, too.
So mom and John Brown and them get lots of fish. Qausriļuks (broad whitefish). No tulugaqs (ravens), even though you make big pile. No wolf, no -- hardly any -- If there is, they'll catch 'em. Fox. No ravens. You just leave 'em there. Just go back and forth to get dog food. Too bad no camera in those days.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: I know. So, when you lived at John Brown's place, was that above Niliq? Or that was -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Way up in Selawik. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh, you were way up there? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, you pass almost close to the -- you know, that Iñġisugruk. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay.
EMMA RAMOTH: It's not far. You ever heard about that -- that -- what's the name? Qargi -- some -- somebody's qargi. In Selawik. Close to that one. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Huh.
EMMA RAMOTH: Springtime, we -- we -- we go camp with Jack Sampson, Warren, Roscoe, me and my mom. And Bob Clark was -- have sod house, too. With Laura Clark, they have -- Martha died, they bury 'em up there. Martha and -- Amelia and Ruth Clark. So it was fun.
There's caribous start coming in -- in those days. Lots. KAREN BREWSTER: Was that in the 1950's, '60's? You were up there? EMMA RAMOTH: Maybe '49, maybe. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And you'd gone up there for fishing? Or for just to spend the spring -- EMMA RAMOTH: 'Cause we have -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: -- up there? EMMA RAMOTH: We have a sod house, too. Brand new there. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. EMMA RAMOTH: But I come down with Elmer and them and stay with them in school from November to January. And go back to my mom.
You know, one month at a time, that's how come I didn't have education.
KAREN BREWSTER: So, how come your mom was living up there instead of at Niliq? EMMA RAMOTH: They (her parents) separate. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And then, that guy Charlie Cook, do you know that place on Tagraġvik they call "Charlie Cook Hill?" Iqsauniq? That's what Sonny calls it. EMMA RAMOTH: There's Iqsaaġniq, but -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Iqsauniq. EMMA RAMOTH: -- I don't know whose -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. EMMA RAMOTH: -- who lives there.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Charlie Cook isn't some name you know? Okay.
And then Niliq, is that short for some longer word, or is that just the name of it? EMMA RAMOTH: I don't know why it's called Niliq.
Yeah, we always wonder that. EMMA RAMOTH: And then where I raised, and then it's embarrassing. But, when I growing up, it -- you know, it doesn't bother me. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. For people who don't know Iñupiaq, niliq means "fart." EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah,
So -- so, there's Johnny Foster's kids, and me, and Elsie Foster and Mary, we always play. Play outside.
And Paul Ballot have a lot of kids, too, and he always switch around and let them stay with my grandparents. Like Ethel. Ethel died. Harry Ballot or Roy Smith when they're teenager. (phone rings) So when Ethel was up there, we always dogteam a lot. Have fun. (phone rings)
SUSAN GEORGETTE: We're almost done, I think. Do you know who Ted Davis was? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, Ted Davis -- I remember one time while we stay up there, there's lot of Army come around dogteaming. I wonder what they're doing. Ralph know what they're doing.
This man was leading them from Point Hope, Leonard Lane, old man. I mean, he was young in those days.
And they stay in that Rotman's store. Ralph know what they're doing. With dogteams. SUSAN GEORGETTE: At Niliq? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Army.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And Ted Davis was -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: And then, Ted -- I wonder how -- how -- I wonder if he's not one of 'em? So, he got girlfriend with Harry Cleveland's daughter, Laura. Laura Cleveland.
But he didn't talk about his parents or relatives. Seems like, you know, he -- he kinda -- I don't know how he -- how he come around here, but he didn't talk about his relatives.
So, he got married and he live around here, so he start mining up there. Him and his son, Pumpkin. That, you know, Pumpkin, down there. His name is James Davis, and Larry and Lori. They're alive.
I think there's small landing field up there, but, you know, too much -- no transportation, so he give up.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So that's Shovel Creek? That place they call Shovel Creek? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Even Elmer and them, you know, transportation, they quit, too. Elmer say it's not easy. SUSAN GEORGETTE: They're looking for gold? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah.
And he say, when you're not praying, too, it -- it's some way you could hear funny stuff when it's dark. He was telling us. SUSAN GEORGETTE: In those mountains? EMMA RAMOTH: But, if you really praying person it would be okay. That's what he say.
John was -- even my dad trying to prospect a little. 'Cause there's lotta stories we heard, they project (prospect), like even my auntie's adopted parents they project (prospect) and dig and find lotta gold. In Tagraġvik way. And Kuugruaq way. I don't know about Selawik, but later on they start Selawik.
They buried lotta golds up there, so they always trying to find 'em, but they never really find 'em. There's --
I didn't catch him, this white man was living across from Niliq, too, in that bend. His name was -- they mostly call him Iġniktuyuq . Ralph know the English. That was Tommy Sours' dad. To this married lady, Lena Sours' son from him. So that's why we have Sours people.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Hm. How did he come around? EMMA RAMOTH: Probably trying to mine, too. There's lotta miners -- mine -- mining people, but these two really strong shaman, they make it hard to get.
They think lotta white men will start come around. They sure make it a mistake. We probably would have a mining project up there. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Hm.
KAREN BREWSTER: So the shaman made it hard for the white man to be successful? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: To keep them away? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: They put the gold down deep. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, further down. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, so they couldn't get it?
But that meant Iñupiaq couldn't get it either. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Right?EMMA RAMOTH: If you really work hard, you could get 'em. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
EMMA RAMOTH: You got to have money to project (prospect). KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Even up that way, there's some. They always find big nuggets from up there. KAREN BREWSTER: Where's up there? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. That way. KAREN BREWSTER: Purcells? (Purcell Mountains) Or -- EMMA RAMOTH: No.
When they firefight, this young man, Beulah Ballot's son, from creek he find big nuggets. He -- and he take 'em to camp and show his uncle, and he put 'em his -- under his bedding. He forgot 'em there. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
EMMA RAMOTH: So, Roscoe and with his partner, Eli, trying to go find 'em. But they never did find 'em.
KAREN BREWSTER: What's up there? That direction? EMMA RAMOTH: Between here and Buckland. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Selawik Hills. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay, thank you.
EMMA RAMOTH: So, Selawik have year round fish. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. EMMA RAMOTH: Pike. Pike -- summertime, whitefish. Once in a while, you'll get king salmon. Once in a great while in falltime.
And then, July, you'll get -- up to this day you get trout. One or two. I don't know where they always go. We always wondering. I think Kuugruaq someplace area. They always say there's a lake up there, it have trout. Nobody find it.
One time, Mary Pete catch twelve of 'em. In July. And I say, "Gee, you never give me one even." I used to tease her.
KAREN BREWSTER: So, how come people stopped going out to spring muskrat camp and going -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: 'Cause nobody buying them. You could send 'em someplace, but they'd rather try to make money somehow.
KAREN BREWSTER: And people didn't want to get them to use for themselves? EMMA RAMOTH: They do. They -- they do. Us, we get for our parkie.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: When did -- do you know when Rotman's closed at Niliq? Like when they really moved away? EMMA RAMOTH: When they moved down here and they start to move to Kotzebue, so they quit Niliq. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: 'Cause hardly anybody live up there, too.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So, like 1950 or late '40s or -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Maybe late '40s. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Late '40s. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Late '40s.
KAREN BREWSTER: But did they -- even though they closed the store, did they still take the boat up and go collecting? EMMA RAMOTH: No. No. KAREN BREWSTER: No, they just -- EMMA RAMOTH: 'Cause nobody go ca -- hardly anybody camping. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah.
So, we're still hunting when I have Ruthie, Diane. So, Diane born '57, so we probably start --
Oh, when we move here, we -- we get lotta muskrat. Maybe we get about maybe one thousand or five hundred. So we trade them to AC (Alaska Commerical Company). KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
EMMA RAMOTH: Get -- we get motor. KAREN BREWSTER: Five hundred muskrats got you a motor? Wow. That was the late '50s? EMMA RAMOTH: Or one thousand, I forget. Ralph should remember.
KAREN BREWSTER: But that was the late '50s? EMMA RAMOTH: No, '60 -- We move here '62. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. EMMA RAMOTH: Maybe early '70s, maybe? KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.
EMMA RAMOTH: Later on I think when they get muskrat, they have to send them out and nobody -- I don't know what year Rotman's quit buying muskrat. I forgot.
And Archie Ferguson's store, they move to Fairbanks too -- too -- in order try to let them school (phone rings) like their adopted sons, Ray Ferguson, Donald Ferguson.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Emma, do you remember ever having like really big floods or earthquakes or things like -- or fires or -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Before I know, there's big flood, 'cause, you know, Niliq people have to move up there where the graves are.
So around here they say the house flood. Few houses on this side. Other side, they're okay. KAREN BREWSTER: Like a couple -- EMMA RAMOTH: But I don't know what year. KAREN BREWSTER: -- couple feet of water in their house? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So before you were born or when you were small or -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Maybe before I born, or after --
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Sometime in there, yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: I don't know what year. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay.
EMMA RAMOTH: And after that -- And then, 1950 what. Maybe '50 -- '56 around. Earthquake around here, too, but no damage. (phone rings) Just shake early in the morning. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah, huh. EMMA RAMOTH: Gee. (phone rings) SUSAN GEORGETTE: We're almost done. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: So, 1956 earthquake, but no damage. EMMA RAMOTH: I'm just guessing the year. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. Okay. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. But while we still live across there. We move here '62. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Okay. EMMA RAMOTH: But I didn't have much kids in those days.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: What about big fires? Like where you felt afraid of being burned or -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Not, not -- So many lakes, we're okay with fires, but the smoke. Once -- once -- I mean, you know, some summers bother us. But, west wind always clear it up.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Hm-mm. Okay. Do you have anything else there? KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I was -- the traditional uses of muskrat, before you were -- people were selling them, you would eat them, you said?EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. They're -- KAREN BREWSTER: And feed them to your dogs? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Dried -- dried 'em for summer.
'Cause summertime in -- you know, in July, after fish go in, they always slow down, so -- but if you, really work hard, you'll get there and there.
But by the time we'll soak the muskrat and -- KAREN BREWSTER: And feed them to the dogs? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what other ways did you use muskrat? EMMA RAMOTH: You could put away -- you could put away for winter, too. And then -- But hardly anybody do that. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm-mm.
EMMA RAMOTH: In case, you know, you have no food, you could put 'em away when they dry. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, they would dry 'em and put away? EMMA RAMOTH: Real good protein right there.
KAREN BREWSTER: Hm-mm. And then you used the furs for parkas and hats? What about anything else? Or medicines or anything? EMMA RAMOTH: No. KAREN BREWSTER: No? EMMA RAMOTH: I don't think so. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Emma, I had one question about sheefish. Do you ever remember a year when there weren't many sheefish that came up river? Or have they been reliable? EMMA RAMOTH: Some springs they always be hard to find. The ice always be too thick.
And -- but, they always camp down there and work hard and trying to -- you know, try to have dog food. That's why --
SUSAN GEORGETTE: On the lakes? They camp on the lakes? EMMA RAMOTH: That's why -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah.
EMMA RAMOTH: The one that's supposed to go camp in springtime, they always get fishing too much and then they always get mushy and they having hard time to go to their camp.
KAREN BREWSTER: They waited too long? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, they have to travel night time when it get cool. 'Cause they have to drag their small boat, too, for break-up.
KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. That's a hard time to travel. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: And their dogs, they're not that strong, too, from lack of food.
So, one time my mom telling me Johnny Foster and them camp, too. I wonder if I was there, or -- they have lotta groceries, but no -- they ran out of niqipiaq - dog food.
Hardly any ptarmigan. Hardly any rabbits, so my mom -- they always buy poke of seal oil from stores, so they have poke of seal oil.
So, my mom and Faye Foster gathered these caribou food. Those white one. What they call 'em? SUSAN GEORGETTE: Lichen. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, that kind. And then gathered them and put seal oil and soaked them and give the dogs.
So, Johnny and my dad hunt -- geese hunting, and they come home sledload of geese. So they dig the snow and put them to snow. That's how they survive springtime 'til the fish come out. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Wow. EMMA RAMOTH: I mean, muskrat. KAREN BREWSTER: 'Til the muskrat come out? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, muskrat.
I mean, when you're trapping, you don't get much, 'til you start shooting 'em. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And did -- did Noorvik hunt muskrat a lot, too? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: But Sel -- mainly Selawik and Noorvik, not really Buckland and Ambler and -- ?
EMMA RAMOTH: I find out Noorvik people, they don't waste. They mostly take care the stuff what they catch. And up river, they don't waste like around here. They really save, even though --
One time I hear Cora Cleveland saying -- 'cause their parents died when they're small, too, and how many brothers and sisters. "Lucky thing I never poison my brothers and sisters. Maybe God take care of us?" She say that.
And I wonder what she was feeding her sisters and brothers. But there's no plastic in those days. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. EMMA RAMOTH: Even though things get stink, they don't -- No -- no botulism. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Hm-mm. EMMA RAMOTH: Air. KAREN BREWSTER: Yep.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Do you have anything else you want to add, Emma? I think that's -- EMMA RAMOTH: So, Ikkuiyiq (Fish River) way, too, these -- these people always make big ditch for -- for dog food, too. Like Richard Jones and them.
Their -- their parents in Uutauraq, long time ago, let -- when Eva Henry, too, when she talk, they move around, they make ditch and gather fish like that for winter. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Whitefish? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: So, that ditch is a way to store them after you've killed them? Or that's -- puts them in -- in -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Fish. KAREN BREWSTER: -- in there live and then they die?
EMMA RAMOTH: You'll make -- you know, big ditch and you'll start spilling the fish. And then you'll cover it with -- there's no plastic, no tarp.
You'll cover 'em so they won't -- nuviuvaks (flies). SUSAN GEORGETTE: Flies don't get them. KAREN BREWSTER: So the flies don't get them? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, so flies won't get in there. So, next day if you check net -- But the one that early what you put away, they're strong.
Like Ellen's grandparents used to have fish camp, too. Little ways up there. That's what they make, too. Lots, lots of ditch fish for winter.
KAREN BREWSTER: So, yeah, you pull 'em out of the nets and you throw them in the ditch to store them? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Like making a -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Like a big pit. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, like a little ice cellar -- EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- kinda thing? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Okay.
EMMA RAMOTH: This old lady was telling me one time, Annie Riley, springtime they always pick cranberries when -- when the snow melt. And then they always -- where the ditch mud -- 'cause they always cover 'em with mud.
When it fill, put grasses first and then mud. And then wintertime, they take it off, and then there's in the mud, there's oil, fish oil.
She say after they pick berries and get oil from there, and then eat, and then, she say after they eat berries, they always get (rubs hands together) --
And then, she say they always roll lotta dirt from fish oil. And she laugh! She say it must be stink.
KAREN BREWSTER: 'Cause they rub it all over themselves? Yeah? EMMA RAMOTH: To their face and hands. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, good oil -- good -- EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Yeah. Was there-- was there anything else about Niliq and what you remember about living there that you want to tell us? EMMA RAMOTH: So, falltime my dad always fish with these grayling. He always catch them lot in falltime. Big pile.
Nobody bothered 'em, too, when he make -- from -- upinġiviks (sp?) He always -- you know, if you go through the ground it little ways, pinġivik (sp?). I -- There's a creek there's -- by the Niliq mouth, too. Or by the bend. Or across there. We usually catch. SUSAN GEORGETTE: For grayling? EMMA RAMOTH: Grayling. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh.
KAREN BREWSTER: And how would you catch 'em? With -- EMMA RAMOTH: Little -- little -- KAREN BREWSTER: Like niksik (fishhook)? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, niksik. KAREN BREWSTER: Niksiking?
EMMA RAMOTH: I think that's how come my hobby is fishing. 'Cause when I'm little girl I catch those. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And then, that Richard Jones lived at -- Richard Jones, right? Or is that -- He lived at Uutauraq and you stayed there when you were young? EMMA RAMOTH: His wife, when he (she) have 'nother husband, their parents lived mostly in Uutauraq. You know, from -- from long time.
And the ground used to be different. Eva used to say it -- it really different right now. Sinking so much.
You know, the creeks used to be narrow there. They're wide now.
So, they always have lotta food put away, too, there. And Tuqłlumaaġgruq. Lots of fish falltime, summertime. They have -- Only thing, you know, not much wood, so -- but anyway they have houses there, too. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Hm-mm.
KAREN BREWSTER: It sounds like Niliq was a good place to grow up. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Was it? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: You had wood and -- EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: -- fish? EMMA RAMOTH: Everything. KAREN BREWSTER: And -- EMMA RAMOTH: Store.
KAREN BREWSTER: A store. And lots of other kids to play with. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: It was a big community. EMMA RAMOTH: They shoulda have teacher there. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Too bad people moved. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. But it -- it's mostly easier. You could -- you could seining in summertime, sheefish around -- KAREN BREWSTER: Down here? Yeah, it's easier.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: There's a cache at Niliq that belongs to your dad, right? Or to you now? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. But the bear was tear it down. But they --
One time we fixed them up with logs, but after they tear it down they put barrels.
KAREN BREWSTER: Tavra? Okay? Anything -- Tavra?
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Anything -- anything else that you want to add, Emma? Or you're -- EMMA RAMOTH: And I notice when I grow up, stores don't have kids clothes. Just boy's pants. Maybe shirt. And my mom have to make me dress all the time.
And I don't know what year you could order from Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck and Bellas Hess. And there's another thin -- I've got some and you can't believe the price. I always find them from Richard's stuff.
KAREN BREWSTER: So -- So, what did she make your dresses out of? EMMA RAMOTH: Cloth. KAREN BREWSTER: She could buy that at the store? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: 'Cause there's flannel and cloth. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Corduroy yard cloth. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. EMMA RAMOTH: Pretty ones, too.
And before I knew, they always trade -- they always go to Nome or Candle, trade from Russia. Good stuff.
There's a bar in Candle and mining there, so people used to trade good stuff, like these -- What you call these? KAREN BREWSTER: Like a chest? EMMA RAMOTH: Like a big suitcase like. But you -- you'll keep 'em in the house. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, like a -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: A trunk? KAREN BREWSTER: Like a trunk? EMMA RAMOTH: Trunk, yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Trunk. EMMA RAMOTH: That kind.
Shotgun. You name it, they trade. Binoculars, scarf, good cloth. But I'm glad America buy Alaska. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: That's a long way to go from -- from Niliq or up river they'd go all the way to Candle? Even from here, that's -- EMMA RAMOTH: Mostly, my mom's adopted mom talk about it. I didn't see -- I didn't see it myself. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
EMMA RAMOTH: They probably always go Kotzebue, too, summertime. And the one who go down there, they trade.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Now, when you were a girl at Niliq, did your family have a motorboat, or you'd have to paddle -- EMMA RAMOTH: No. SUSAN GEORGETTE: -- up to Niliq? EMMA RAMOTH: Somehow my dad didn't get motor. We got big boat and smaller boat.
KAREN BREWSTER: Rowboat? SUSAN GEORGETTE: You had to row? How long would it take to row up there? EMMA RAMOTH: We'll stop one night if we start going up. We stop to Ikaaġgiaq to Lucille's and the family there. Their mom and Jacob and Lucille and one more girl my age.
So, we'll pass by Luke Goode's and them, 'cause just one -- one stop we'll make it to Niliq. My parent's take turns -- KAREN BREWSTER: Rowing? SUSAN GEORGETTE: Wow. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. And with -- ?
EMMA RAMOTH: Let the three dogs -- when it have -- SUSAN GEORGETTE: Sandbar? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Fast right there. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, the dogs would help pull?
SUSAN GEORGETTE: There's not a lot of sandbars on the Selawik. At least, down this way -- EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: -- there's not a lot, unless the water's low.
KAREN BREWSTER: But that's with a full boat, too, right? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, yeah, full boat. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. EMMA RAMOTH: Groceries.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: You would sail? EMMA RAMOTH: But Niliq used to -- warehouse used to have like leftover flour, sugar. Especially probably flour, coffee. I don't know about sugar. Baking powder and stuff. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm-mm. EMMA RAMOTH: (Baking) soda, salt.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you didn't have to bring that up? You bought that at the warehouse? EMMA RAMOTH: Later on you gotta bring 'em. Later on.
KAREN BREWSTER: So, did your dad work for Rotman, then? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. He -- EMMA RAMOTH: They -- they was managing it for awhile, before they (her parents) separate. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
But the store was only open in spring and fall, you said? EMMA RAMOTH: Up there. KAREN BREWSTER: Up there? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. EMMA RAMOTH: So, when -- down here, too, they managing it down here.
Both of my parents school up to eight grade. They shoulda get books and teach me. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: They spoil me so much. I -- I
KAREN BREWSTER: Were you the only child then? Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: I musta allergic, too, so when I start being sick, this Lou -- Louie Rotman teach them to boil oatmeal with lotta water. Make oatmeal and then -- and let it settle and then make me bottle from there. Just add little bit milk so I quit being sick.
I musta allergic to Carnation (canned milk). I don't know. Nobody knows about allergic.
KAREN BREWSTER: Things were very different back then, huh? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Way different. Nobody -- nobody think about money. Just -- just -- I mean, they would if there's job.
So, whole summer long the husbands will boating for Rotman's and Ferguson's. They make money.
Like Arthur Skin, Andrew, they always travel, you know, to -- I don't know what they do over there, too. Once in a while. Not all the time. Go back and forth to Kotzebue. Bringing -- bring the stuff.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And you heated your house with wood at Niliq? Or with willows? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Or just -- just -- EMMA RAMOTH: They always drift wood, too. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Dried, dry wood. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Hm-mm.
EMMA RAMOTH: Uummaqs (alder) and -- Summertime if you gather the woods, they'll be dry in wintertime. Easy to burn.
KAREN BREWSTER: Anything else? EMMA RAMOTH: That's Sally's (Gallahorn) mom is from Kobuk. And -- KAREN BREWSTER: That's Clara Rotman? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah.
Their dad was Lee -- Lee -- what's his name? (Louis) It (he's) buried across there. Clara's dad. And the mom was Eskimo from Kobuk.
Wha -- they have relative with Custers. Like Josephine and -- and what's his name. They died, those two Custers. Rose -- Rose -- Rose Custer and --
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Herbert? Or -- ? EMMA RAMOTH: Larry Custer's parents. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Herbert? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah, Herbert. Yeah.
So, May Bernhardt adopted to Mary Brown and them. That was Clara's younger sister. When their mom died, they adopted her.
Oh. Levy, Levy. SUSAN GEORGETTE: That's Clara Rotman's dad, is Levy? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah. Levy. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Oh. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. I wonder what's the last name. Beulah Levy. Myra Levy.
So Clara got married to Louis Rotman. Clara Rotman.
So, Myra got married. She live in Nome. Beulah, before she get married, she died. She have one son from Clara's husband. But, Clar -- they -- they're happy.
He was have plane, too, but they crash between Point Hope and Kotzebue, 1950's, I think. Young lady from there, from Point Hope and -- Weber. Oh, Downey -- Seveck's son.
Falltime, those ugrutchiaqs (young bearded seals) always come up this way. Not real lots, but they always catch them KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.
EMMA RAMOTH: But not all the people, but my dad used to catch, too.
In springtime, they'll hunt to catch seal -- sealskins. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm-mm. I didn't know they'd come up this far. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Hm-mm.
EMMA RAMOTH: And then the stores usually -- you know, Rotman's will trade from Kivalina for ugruk bottom, so people will buy 'em. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: And seal oil, too.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, you said you could buy a poke of seal oil. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Yeah. So they'll save this poke, and then they could use it for sourdocks or berries or -- KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. EMMA RAMOTH: Or seal oil with dried paniqtaq (dried meat or fish).
First time they catch moose, 19 - what? Around late '50s. Across there. And they divide it to everybody to taste. 'Cause they're not many -- maybe 300 people in Selawik, maybe?
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And there'd never been moose around here, huh? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. No moose. No beavers.
Only time we always have meat from reindeer herders before caribous come around. When they come around, too, you know, they have to go way up and hunt them.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: And I don't think -- EMMA RAMOTH: Lately, Ralph sure remember lot of stuff than me. So, you fellas will talk to him, too? KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. EMMA RAMOTH: Some -- someday. KAREN BREWSTER: Someday, we'll talk to him.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: Karen's gonna come back a second time, I think. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. Okay. SUSAN GEORGETTE: And then when Ralph is better and -- 'Cause he knows a lot of stuff, too, I know. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, we want to do it when he's feeling good. EMMA RAMOTH: And his English is way better than mine's, too. KAREN BREWSTER: Your's is good. EMMA RAMOTH: (Laughs) SUSAN GEORGETTE: Yeah, your's is good. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
SUSAN GEORGETTE: O -- Perfect. Thanks. KAREN BREWSTER: Tavra? EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah. SUSAN GEORGETTE: Thanks, Emma. KAREN BREWSTER: Quyanaqpak. EMMA RAMOTH: Yeah.