Moose Calling along the Dietrich River, an oil painting by Rose Albert. Courtesy image
Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Rose Albert – Athabascan Painter and Artist

Rose Albert. Courtesy photo
Rose Albert. Courtesy photo

I have admired Rose Albert’s painting for years. Rose is Koyukon Athabascan originally from Ruby, Alaska. She is a talented artist and also a former Iditarod sled dog musher. She is owner of Nowitna River Studios and resides in Anchorage.

Rose always wanted to become an artist since she was two years old. She remembers playing under the blankets with my siblings and being fascinated by static electricity. The streaks of light looked like little angels to her and her siblings. At the age of five, Rose’s first three drawings were of angels with wings.

Another vivid memory is when Rose was mesmerized by midnight blue glass beads shining at an old dump site. The color blue spoke to her and in second grade, she drew rivers, streams and mountains and colored them blue. Rose says, “After school as dusk fell upon us, I would stand one place outside and watch as the atmosphere turned blue.” She remembers getting cold outside but couldn’t resist watching how the blue faded into darkness. Rose realized later, she was a winter person.

“I went through grade sixth to eighth drawing women in the latest fashions. I gave them away and my classmates seemed to like them. My first oil painting was of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Later in eighth grade I did an oil painting of Zeus who was the sky and thunder God in ancient Greek religion as a class project. The next one and many afterwards were of wild life. One of a bull moose and cow and one with wolves running. Throughout high school, I painted outdoor winter scenes and wildlife and best of all dogs racing down the trail, all along trying to capture that blue atmosphere that cold weather seems to bring on. During high school I took art classes by Don Decker. Though I may have been good at composition, he instructed me on how to work with light and the direction it was coming from and when to use shadows and colors.” – Rose Albert, Koyukon Athabascan

Rose worked on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System after high school. She painted on her free time on commission from pipeline workers from the Lower 48 who were missing loved ones. Using small snapshots of their wives, she painted 16×20 oil paintings. After that job ended, she was lost afterwards until a school teacher from Ruby told her I should go down to the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1981, Rose earned an associate’s degree in two-dimensional art specializing in painting from IAIA. She says, “I still obsessed about blue and brought to life Alaska themes with rich northern colors in cold but romantic settings on the Iditarod race or trapline.”

Rose Albert attending a 2015 Fur Rondy event honoring late George Attle Jr. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Rose Albert attending a 2015 Fur Rondy event honoring late George Attle Jr. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

After Rose returned to Alaska, she got in the Iditarod race and finished in 32nd place. She was the first Alaska Native woman to get into the Iditarod. She says, “It was cold and blue out there and I loved it.” Rose continues to refine her painting techniques depicting wildlife and beautiful Alaska scenes, and loves painting Iditarod scenes. She also specializes in painting portraits.

In 1998, Rose began building Alaska Yellow Cedar boxes and carving wildlife, totemic art and Iditarod images of people and their dogs in the Iditarod. One of her favorite things to do is to design boxes to the appropriate shape or size. Then she pays a woodworker to build finger joint boxes so they will never lose their shape. At one point, Rose had to hire someone to build them because it took too much of her time to build them.

Rose has always loved beads. Ten years ago, she began making costume jewelry, especially with glass beads. The jewelry was a hit, and Rose began adding Swarovski crystals, stone, ceramic, bone and silver beads. Later, she worked with moose antlers by inlaying beautiful natural stones in the antler after slicing them into oval or round buttons. She searched for the best bone or stone beads to go with her pendants. Rose loves all Alaskan stones, like jasper, Malachite, quartz and garnets, but she also likes Labradorite.

Like many Alaska Native artists, Rose is multi-talented and is not afraid to experiment with new art forms. She is also an inspiration for women who want to run in the Iditarod. Follow Rose Albert on the Nowitna River Studios Facebook page or email her at lbrt_rs@yahoo.com. Rose shared a photo of her most recent painting, entitled “Moose Calling along the Dietrich River” on her Facebook page. It took four about four months to paint in five phases. This oil painting depicts a bull moose calling as it walks along the Dietrich river on a brisk autumn day during the rut.

Moose Calling along the Dietrich River, an oil painting by Rose Albert. Courtesy image
“Moose Calling along the Dietrich River”, an oil painting by Rose Albert. Courtesy image
Kelley Baggerly at work. Courtesy photo
Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Kelley Baggerly – Athabascan Barber and Hairdresser

Kelley Baggerly. Courtesy photo
Kelley Baggerly. Courtesy photo

I love connecting with people in person and online. I started following an Athabascan barber and hairdresser, Kelley Baggerly, on Instagram (@kelleycuts). I enjoy seeing her adventures in Alaska, the work she does and times spent with family and friends. I reached out to learn more about her and she graciously agreed to an interview for the Athabascan Woman Blog.

Kelley is Koyukon Athabascan and was born and raised for most of her childhood in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her late mother, Thelma Cline, was from Nulato, Alaska. Her father, Tim Cline, came up to Alaska from Novato, California to teach music. Her maternal grandparents were Janet and Robert Stanley of Nulato. Kelley is a single mother of two children ages five and seven. She loves spending time with my family in Anchorage. Kelley enjoys being outside hiking, snowboarding and photography.

Kelley Baggerly and children. Courtesy photo
Kelley Baggerly and children. Courtesy photo

Kelley is constantly pushing to keep some of her Athabascan traditions alive by eating Alaska Native foods. She reads stories to her children, encourages them to get involved in Native events in Anchorage. Her son, Kaiyuh Nokinba, has a Koyukon Athabascan name. It was important to her to give her first child an Athabascan name so he always knew how proud we are of his Alaska Native heritage.

Kelley shares her love of music with her father. She feels her father’s love for music really brought the community of Nulato together. Kelley says, “I really think he impacted a lot of Native youth through his teaching and love for music.” At 18 years old, she got two small tattoos on her wrist in honor of her love of music; they were a small treble and bass clef.

Kelley Baggerly. Courtesy photo
Kelley Baggerly. Courtesy photo

Kelley continued to get other tattoos to signify different parts of her life, like her struggles and accomplishments, and to remember ones she has lost. Her love of tattoos continues and her most recent ones are some roses on her elbow she got Valentine’s Day. Kelley says, “They really are just a map of my life.”

At 17 years old, Kelley faced the devastating loss of her mother. Her family has helped her through that loss and in her current life as a single mother. She appreciates her supportive family and network in Anchorage. Kelley says, “Being able to count on them has helped me overcome the struggles of parenting alone.”

Kelley cut her brother's hair on a barber's chair from the 1890's originally from the SS Nenana (a steamboat now in Pioneer Park in Fairbanks). Courtesy photo
Kelley cut her brother’s hair on a barber’s chair from the 1890’s originally from the SS Nenana (a steamboat now in Pioneer Park in Fairbanks). Courtesy photo

Kelley earned her hairdresser’s license in 2008 from the Academy of Hair Design. She worked as a hairdresser for about four years. Then, she became more interested in men’s haircutting and styling. She got a job at a barbershop on Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson (JBER) in 2012 to gain more experience on barbering skills. At that point, she was hooked and decided to switch her career from hairdressing to barbering. Nowadays, you can book appointments with her at the Razor Barbershop in Anchorage (907-349-2889).

In 2015, Kelley took the plunge and completed the hours to retake her state boards to become a licensed barber. She explained that being able to do straight razor shaves and use the straight razor on haircuts and designs is what sets a barber apart from a hairdresser. Kelley says, “The amount of skill that goes into barbering really drew me in, and the huge amount of talent in this industry really excited me.”

Kelley Baggerly at work. Courtesy photo
Kelley loves helping her clients look extra fresh. Courtesy photo

Being a successful business owner and being able to support her family is important to Kelley. It was not easy to accomplish and there were times when she made almost nothing cutting hair, but she persevered. Kelley is glad she stuck with it and continued to build relationships with clients. She has a chair rental at the current shop she works in and has an established clientele. Kelley says, “My clients are amazing. I would literally be nothing if none of them believed in me and trusted me to be consistent with their services behind the chair.”

“My advice for anyone getting into the industry is to stick it out, have self-discipline, and remember that hard work goes a long way!” – Kelley Baggerly, Koyukon Athabascan

Kelley encourages people to follow their dreams and says, “Education is key, never stop learning or pushing yourself.” She always knew she would work with people, but she did not realize how much she would love barbering. Barbering brought her a sense of community in Anchorage and beyond. She has begun to establish relationships with other barbers and hairdressers in other states.

Kelley, Willy (owner of Razor Barbershop) and co-worker Ryan at Hairpalooza. Courtesy photo
Kelley, Willy (owner of Razor Barbershop) and co-worker Ryan at Hairpalooza. Courtesy photo

Kelley recently attended Hairpalooza at the Razor Barbershop in San Antonio, Texas. Hairpalooza was a combination of a hair show and a competition. Kelley says, “While I didn’t compete, I was able to go behind the scenes and meet all the judges and teachers of the class we took the next day.”

Kelley says, “My love for this trade has opened many doors for me and has also given me to the opportunity to give back.” She has done haircuts for many local events with other local businesses. She volunteers to give free cuts to people in need when she can.

Kudos to Kelley for overcoming challenges and following her dreams with hard work and perseverance. I know it is not easy raising two children on her own and she is doing a great job raising and supporting them. Thank you Kelley for sharing your story and being an inspiration to others!

Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Athabascan Adoptee Welcomed Home

Mary St. Martin-Charles is greeted by family in Koyukuk in the summer of 2015. Courtesy photo
Mary St. Martin-Charles is greeted by family in Koyukuk in the summer of 2015. Courtesy photo

This Athabascan Adoptee Welcomed Home article was republished with permission from the American Indian Indian Adoptees Blog.

By Mary St. Martin-Charles

I’ve always dreamt in Indian. Vivid, lucid, in color and shaded with symbols. On one evening night quest, my body was carried in a stream. The water above and below me flowed horizontally from my head toward my toes. However, my body was carried in a current of its own and moving me ahead. As I approached a steep hill, I began to struggle. My brief panic subsided when I chose not to lose my strength fighting the elements I could not control. I reached deep in cool water with both hands. Wading below were fish that sucked on my fingers and pulled me the rest of the way home. I think I am a Salmon. Instinctively, I was called home.

In the year of 2014, I located my cousins and my Koyukon Athabascan tribe. I was welcomed with tears. Even my first cousin, Barb, felt like she needed to have a baby shower for me. When my tax return came in February 2015, the first thing I did was make reservations from Los Angeles to Fairbanks, Alaska and a second reservation with a bush plane to fly me to the village of Koyukuk. The Native Village of Koyukuk lies where the Koyukuk River meets the Yukon River. Koyukuk is about 300 miles from Fairbanks. There is no running water to the cabins and are no roads in and out.

Continue reading “Athabascan Adoptee Welcomed Home”

Alaska Native culture

Denali Name Restored

Denali. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Denali. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

I was elated when President Obama announced Mount McKinley will be restored to its original Koyukon Athabascan name of Denali. It’s about time. It was an emotional day for many indigenous Alaskans. It felt like Alaska Natives were given back something taken away from us. People may think colonization is just something that you read about in text books. It is a very real thing when you see names like Mount McKinley take over our place names. People from all over the world travel to Alaska to see the nation’s highest peak. Now, they will see a place where the very President himself thought it was important enough to recognize and honor Athabascan people.

Founding member of Fairbanks Native Association Poldine Carlo sings a song about Denali after meeting President. Photo courtesy of Obama Diary
Founding member of Fairbanks Native Association Poldine Carlo sings a song about Denali after meeting President. Photo courtesy of Obama Diary

It was awesome to see Poldine Carlo, who is Koyukon Athabascan, sing the Denali song up on his arrival in Anchorage, Alaska. Check out the Indianz.com story about Poldine Carlo:  94-year-old Alaska Native elder greets Obama with Denali song. I can just imagine the excitement she felt and her tears brought tears to my eyes. Sylvia Lange was with her at the time and shared a few photos.

 

Poldine Carlo with Air Force One. Photo by Sylvia Lange
Poldine Carlo with Air Force One. Photo by Sylvia Lange

Sylvia says, “My wonderful companion, Poldine. While waiting for the President to arrive, she conquered all hearts by singing the Denali song in Athabascan.” To say that Poldine is happy is an understatement.

Thank you to Salon.com for the shout out to the Athabascan Woman Blog. Read Paula Young Lee’s story at:  The truth about right-wing Denali outrage: Destroying the tenacious colonialist “right” to re-name is long overdue.

Here are some comments on the Athabascan Woman Blog from earlier this year on their thoughts about changing the name.

I asked my Facebook friends what they thought about the name being restored. Here is what they  had to say:

“The year I was born the state of Alaska changed Mt. McKinley to Denali, the native Koyukon Athabascan word for “The Great One” or “The High One,” and as a Han Gwich’in Athabascan I am very elated that President Obama sees the significance and respect that traditional name carries with Athabascans and the residents of Alaska. Mahsi cho President Obama!” – Shyanne Beatty, Hän Gwich’in Athabascan

View of Denali by Angela Gonzalez
View of Denali by Angela Gonzalez

“Yay!” – Rhonda Pitka, Athabascan

“Always been Denali to me!” – Larry Kairaiuak, Yup’ik

“Yes, I always called it Denali too, never should have been renamed in the first place.” – Violet Huntington, Athabascan

“My Deenaalee [daughter] just announced the wonderfully exciting news that Obama is giving our amazing and breath-taking tallest peak its rightful name officially – Denali! That is the best news. Welcome to AK President Obama and Xusrigidisdhin’- a grateful thank you!!! For Deenaalee she is seeing her namesake finally honored, as we all are!” – Malinda Chase, Athabascan

“It was always meant to be Denali.” – Kylee Beatus, Koyukon Athabascan

“Incredible viewed from the sky; spectacular from the ground; the Creator’s paintbrush on the landscape to give us a constant reminder of his power and grace.” – Beckie Gehrke Murdock

“I saw the announcement on my phone while at the grocery store and almost cried. I can’t believe this is finally happening. Wonderful!!!” – Clare Stockert Ross

“I’m so glad to see this. So much silliness about it though – makes me laugh. Denali is such a beautiful word in and of itself – like a gasp of wonder.” – Amy Modig

“It’s always been Denali to me. I told my husband the news and he said it’s always been Denali and it’s being restored to its original name, should never have been Mt. McKinley! It was a proud day for me. Went to work and several of my coworkers mentioned the renaming of Denali but they were able to say that it was an Athabascan word…because they knew that I AM ATHABASCAN! ” – Brenda Mahan, Athabascan

Denali South View. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Denali South View. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

“I think it is a good idea. A congressman from Ohio opposed it and then he said what can we do to remember this president. Besides naming Denali after him.” – Al Yatlin, Jr., Koyukon Athabascan

“YES!! DENALI IS SUCH A WONDERFUL NAME FOR THE HIGHEST MT.!! EXCITING!!” – Selina Sam, Koyukon Athabascan

“Having the name of the mountain restored to its traditional Koyukon Athabascan name “Denali” also in a way restores the honor and sacredness of the land and the people.” – Sonia Vent, Koyukon Athabascan

Thank you to my friends for sharing. Thank you to President Obama and Secretary Jewel for restoring Denali’s original name!

 

 

 

Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Back in the Early Days in Huslia

Marc Brown and the Blues Crew performing in 2011 in Anchorage. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Marc Brown and the Blues Crew performing in 2011 in Anchorage. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Marc Brown of Huslia and Fairbanks shared a great story about what it was like growing up in Huslia. He was reminiscing with this son, Sammy. He agreed to share it with Athabascan Woman Blog readers.

Back in the Early Days in Huslia
By Marc Brown

 

Marc Brown and his first guitar. Courtesy photo
Marc Brown and his first guitar. Courtesy photo
 My oldest son Sammy and I are just chillin’ in our room and I started telling him stories about what it was like when I was growing up in Huslia.

I’m so old that I when I was a kid we didn’t have running water, TV or a phone. I told him that I remember when there were 3 phones in town – the city office, the school and the clinic. It was big news when you got a phone call, because they had to post it on the bulletin board at the city office. Or, if it was really important, someone would hand deliver the note to your house.

Once, when I was like nine, I got out of the boat coming back from fish camp and everyone I ran into told me Donovan called from Galena. That was big news back then! Lol! So I had to run back to my house and ask my mom if I could go to the city office and use the phone to call Galena. You had to have them dial for you and after the call the city clerk would get a call back from the operator and tell you the charges on the call.

There was one TV in town back then and it was at the school. They had a Beta machine with it and three video tapes to play. The video tapes looked like VCR tapes, but were huge and the beta machine weighed about 60 lbs. Couple years later everyone had TVs, but we only had two channels.

We had to pack water from my grandparents’ house every day and sometimes twice a day if you wanted to take a bath. He gets a kick out of my stories. I used to enjoy my summers in camp where we didn’t even have electricity. We were never bored.

When I was 14 years old, my uncles Kenny and Glen gave me a 14′ boat with a 25 horse outboard motor. It was supposed to be for taking my grandma to check the fish net, but I took it everywhere. 🙂

I used to listen to the hum of the motor and daydream songs. Some of my best songs came to me in that little boat on the Koyukuk River.

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Thank you Marc for sharing your story! I remember and miss those days without the constant barrage of technology.

Marc is owner of the Marc Brown and the Blues Crew. Learn more about the group on their Facebook page. He will be on Native America Calling on Wednesday, August 12 to talk about the release of his 12th album. Marc is NAC’s August Music Maker Of The Month. Congratulations Marc Brown and the Blues Crew!