Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Stories by Rhoda Stertzer

Angeline Derendoff by Brenda Ernst

My relative, Rhoda Stertzer (Koyukon Athabascan), shared a story about her late mom, Angeline Derendoff of Huslia. Rhoda graciously agreed to share it with Athabascan Woman blog readers. She started with story right before Christmas time, then she followed up with information about her mom’s early life.

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A story to chew part off the winter…When our Momma was a child, they would go to winter camp to stay until spring. They were just to bring necessities. Nothing extra, well, she had a doll made of wooden thread spools. Grandma found out and told her she had to leave it. So it was on the way when she had to leave it behind, so she hid in a safe place. On the way back, she picked it up.

When she told the story, I can hear the hurt in her voice she felt at the time. She said “It was just a little doll!” They were traveling with dog team, with Grandpa walking in front sometimes when the traveling got tough. Sometimes they had an extra sled load with a pole sticking forward and they had to hang on to, also. They called that a “G” pole. Tough times they had back then. Merry Christmas. <3 I love you. Continue reading “Stories by Rhoda Stertzer”

Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Amber Hopkins – Koyukon Athabascan Nurse

My relative, Amber Hopkins, is from upriver from where I grew up in Huslia. I love highlighting Athabascan people doing great things.

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Amber Hopkins. Courtesy photo.

Amber Hopkins grew up in Hughes, Alaska, a small Koyukon Athabascan village on the Koyukuk river. Her parents are Wilmer Beetus and Margaret Williams. Her grandparents are the late Joe and Celia Beetus and late Lavine and Susie Williams. After graduating from Lathrop High School, she went to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for a year. Then, she joined the U.S. Navy and was able to travel to parts of the world. She was honorably discharged at the end of her five-year contract and started school to become a nurse. She used her Montgomery GI Bill and earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Amber is now a pediatric/pediatric ICU nurse at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.

Continue reading “Amber Hopkins – Koyukon Athabascan Nurse”

Alaska Native culture

Steps to Tanning a Moose Skin

During a recent event in my hometown of Huslia, I got a chance to chat with my relative Tom Daton Huntington. Daton was his maternal grandfather’s name. They only had Denaakk’e in that time. Like me, he is originally from the Koyukuk River country. Tom was born at camp below the mouth of the Hogatza river and grew up at Huslia and Galena. He lives in Fairbanks and works in the petroleum industry – instrumentation technician of all things automated and process control. His hobbies include cooking, small engine repair, wood working, and hide and fur tanning.

In our conversation, Tom talked about tanning moose skins and shared some photos and videos of the process. It was very interesting learning a little bit about his process and he graciously agreed to share it on the Athabascan Woman blog! He shared his written story below. Continue reading “Steps to Tanning a Moose Skin”

Alaska Native culture

Lessons from Beading 100 Pairs of Moccasins

I did it. Since late 2016, I beaded 100 pairs of hard bottom slippers/moccasins. It has been a great learning experience, healing, connection to culture, and more. I’ve written about it a few times, but wanted to mark this occasion with a few lessons I’ve learned along the way and some interesting places it has led me to.

Here’s an album where I’ve shared some of my beadwork on the Athabascan Woman Blog Facebook page.

It’s rewarding to work on beadwork, giving them to people and to teach people how to bead/sew. I love giving the slippers and teaching others. It almost feels better giving rather than receiving. I’m sharing a gift learned from my grandma, mom and aunties. Continue reading “Lessons from Beading 100 Pairs of Moccasins”

Alaska Native culture

Tell Your Story

Koyukuk River north of Huslia. Photo by Angela Łot’oydaatlno Gonzalez

Since I’ve had the Athabascan Woman Blog, people have asked me how to start a blog. I want to share some tips about how to get started and other ways to share your story.

Expressing yourself and publishing your creative work has never been easier, thanks to the blog. Blogging can be an avenue for advocacy to speak out on important issues in your community. Some sample blogging platforms include Wordress, Blogger, Tumblr and Weebly. Most are user friendly.

I share my stories, interviews with Indigenous people, photography, ‘how to’ bead videos and tips, and more. But I’ve seen blogs dedicated to photography, vlogging and podcasting. Find out the medium that interests you and try it. Ask people for advice. Continue reading “Tell Your Story”