Fishing Time by Marjorie Merry

My friend, Marjorie Merry, shared a short story about fishing. She has generously allowed me to share it on the Athabascan Woman Blog. It is almost like a poem.  We have a fishing fever during the summer time in Alaska.

Eleanor Yatlin cutting fish 6-11
My mother, Eleanor Yatlin, taught her kids, neices and nephews how to cut fish over the past 40 years. Photo taken in 2011 by Angela Gonzalez

Fishing Time
by Marjorie Merry

It’s time. Each summer. The calling. If you were my mother’s daughter, you would know. Time to hook up the boat and pack for days. Heading to the river with sisters and dad. Just have to work like the dickens to cast that net and check it with optimism.

Pull those magnificent creatures from the water and gut them from neck to tail. Save those hearts and heads for the grill. Filet or cut into steaks? Smoke that fish. Half-drieds or strips. Jar some. Cut those filets outside mom’s smokehouse.

Remember when you listened. Try to be the one who teaches now.

In my new life I will answer the call. Missing those who loved you completely.

Giving it back somehow in return. They have rebranded it as subsistence. But it’s culture. Tradition. Our way of life.

Peace and love peeps.

We got some nice sized red (sockeye) salmon on the Kenai River. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
We got some nice sized red (sockeye) salmon on the Kenai River in 2014. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Thank you Marjorie Merry!


Ask an Elder:  Donna Graham


Donna Graham (Gwich’in Athabascan)
Our Elders carry so much knowledge and I often worry about it being lost. I still have a lot to learn about our traditions, culture and about life. I wish I was closer to my Elders in the interior to hear those stories, and I’m sure there are many others in the same boat. 

I thought I would reach out to family and friends to see if they would like to contribute to a new short series, called Ask an Elder. Here is the first one from Sonja Yatlin who interviewed her mother, Donna Graham. Donna is Gwich’in Athabascan from Venetie and now lives in Fairbanks.

Sonja asked her questions and shared her mom’s responses.

What do you want your great, great grandchildren to know about your life?

That she was the best grandma. She said they had to work pretty hard wash clothes with a scrub board.

What is your favorite Native food?

Salmon strips!! Her dad, Dan Frank, made the best salmon strips. 

What was something you enjoyed doing growing up? Like, playing outside, camping or doing stuff inside…

Going out in the boat on the Yukon river with her dad! The Yukon meets the Chandalar River, near Venetie. She grew up in Fort Yukon.

What did you do on the Yukon River? 

Everything…pick berries, hunt and fish.

What advice does you have for the younger generation? 

Get as much knowledge as you can on how to fish and hunt to use in the future. Learn how to save and preserve like freeze, can and dry to get through hard times.
Thank you Sonja for interviewing her mom, and Donna for her wise words. If you would like to participate in the Ask an Elder series, contact me. Or comment below if you have anything to add. Thank you!