Sadie Brower Neakok, an Iñupiaq Woman

Sadie Brower Neakok, an Iñupiaq Woman

Sadie Brower Neakok, an Iñupiaq Woman

Sadie Brower Neakok, an Iñupiaq Woman

Excerpt

Clad in a blue velveteen fancy parka she had made herself, hands clasped behind her back after the fashion of Iñupiat women who have carried a lifetime of small children on their backs, Sadie Brower Neakok walked through the doors of Barrow High School on August 14, 1984. She had come at the urging of my husband Ed Hall, who had, with the help of Craig Gerlach and myself, organized a two-week archæology and oral history field school for Barrow High School students.The North Slope Borough Field School was modeled loosely on the Foxfire projects, and we hoped in the course of two weeks to introduce students to the rich resources of local history and prehistory, and to provide them with a basic framework for investigating the North Slope heritage.Accordingly, we selected two elders—a man and a woman—who would be willing to work with me and to be interviewed about their lives by the twelve students.We needed elders who were at ease speaking English because the students were ethnically mixed (Iñupiat, white, Hawaiian, Filipino), and because I speak no Iñupiaq.

Sadie was a perfect choice for the task.Fluent in English and a former teacher in the Barrow schools, she was quite comfortable in the role of life history subject.More important, because of her various public service roles in the community over a forty-year period, Sadie had much to offer on Barrow history.She described the first airplane landing in Barrow in 1926, the tragic crash of Will Rogers and Wiley Post in 1935, the construction of the U.S. Navy base and DEW-line station (Defense Early Warning) outside of town, the protest over subsistence hunting regulations in the 1960s, the problems Barrow natives faced with the introduction of the white man's legal system, and more.She was equally descriptive about her own life. During the . . .

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