Photographs from Luke and Alice Demientieff's personal collection.
Luke Demientieff is an Athabascan elder who was born in 1926 to Frances and Eluska Demientieff in Holy Cross, Alaska. He was raised in Holy Cross and attended school at the Holy Cross Mission, where he learned to read, write, garden, cut wood, and build things. Luke had a long career both in Holy Cross and in Bethel in construction and as a skilled carpenter, but his primary focus was subsistence fishing, trapping, and hunting. In 1950, he married Alice Withrow who came to the Mission in 1941 from Dillingham when she was nine years old. Together they raised a large family, and spent a lot of time traveling and living off the land. They also owned and operated the Holy Cross Lodge for many years. They have a cabin at Reindeer Lake, where they prefer to spend much of their time. For more about Luke and Alice Demientieff see their 2017 interview for the Legacy of our Elders video series produced by Tanana Chiefs Conference.
Alice Withrow Demientieff is an elder who was born in 1932 on the Nushagak River near Dillingham, Alaska. She grew up living a subsistence lifestyle with her Native mother and non-Native father. Her mother passed away from tuberculosis and her father got a job as a radio operator in the Aleutian Islands during World War II and couldn't take care of his children, so in 1941, at the age of nine, Alice was sent to the Holy Cross Mission to attend school. She learned to read, write, knit, sew, cook, do household chores, and how to work hard. In 1950, Alice married Luke Demientieff and together they raised a large family. She enjoyed being out in the country, so she often accompanied Luke on his travels on the trapline and for hunting and fishing. She is an expert gardener and cook, and is especially fond of spending time at their cabin on Reindeer Lake. For more about Luke and Alice Demientieff see their 2017 interview for the Legacy of our Elders video series produced by Tanana Chiefs Conference.