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Otto Friend, nonagenarian

The Delta Discovery is one of our regional newspapers. Many of the articles may also be read on-line. Unfortunately, there isn’t a photo of Mr. Friend.

10-15-08
by Jodi Friend, student Kuskokwim Campus

My paternal grandfather Otto Friend has lived in the native village of Kwigillingok, a costal village located on the Southwestern Region of Alaska, nearly all his life.

When my grandfather was a young boy, most of the Yup’ik people in the village lived on the left side of the Kwigillingok River, while only a few lived on the right side.

…what are my grandfather’s personality, favorite foods, and hobbies?
My grandfather is mean, grumpy, strict, selfish, and forgetful at times, but he is also humorous, caring, and loving. His nickname is “Apiin” (similar to grandfather) and “Dad.”

Otto loves to eat blackberry “akutaq” (Eskimo ice cream), beluga whale blubber, dried salmon, white fish, bird soup, and loves drinking Red Rose tea with his elder friends.

His hobbies include watching Kung Fu movies, taking naps, snow machine riding, checking the Kwigillingok River, playing with his grandchildren, working on seal skin, carving wood, and taking steam baths.

… After serving in the Alaskan Territorial Guard (ATG), his sight has not been the same. My paternal aunts and uncles told me that Otto, little by little, stopped going subsistence hunting because of his affected vision. Although he has this problem, it does not keep him from being in charge of how the gathered and hunted food is prepared or stored for the winter.

Right now, he’s 90-years-old and he still walks and takes a steam bath in the “maqivik” (steam house or sauna) just about every night…. In conclusion, Otto is a lot of fun to be around. I admire and respect him because he has been through so much in his life and because he has a lot of experience when it comes to subsistence living. He is also a very good grandfather, not just to me, but to my other relatives as well. […]


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Picturing Alaska history : USA territory to statehood

Turner Publishing (http://www.turnerpublishing.com) asked if I would consider reviewing a new book. I’m glad I agreed. Historic Photos of Alaska has just been published, a large format book of black and white photographs from the period 1867 to 1979. Dermot Cole, long-time columnist for the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer, provides the text and captions.

As a journalist, Dermot also has an interest in history (apart from his twin brother, Terrance, history professor at University of Alaska Fairbanks). Dermot Cole is the author of Amazing Pipeline Stories published by Epicenter Press in 1997, about the people and Fairbanks during the Alaska oil pipeline construction.

The perspective of Historic Photos of Alaska, is for those readers outside Alaska. That is, this is a pictorial history of Alaska as part of “America”. [Through no fault of this book, many in the US will still consider Alaska as a foreign body, along with New Mexico.]

The photos are arranged by time periods, from purchase to statehood– 1867-1905, 1906-1919, 1920-1940, and 1941-1979. These periods represent significant periods of US and Alaska relations. The orientation is a deliberate effort to stand apart from the usual Alaskana picture books. Another significant difference in this book is the choice of rarely seen photos and not the ubiquitous ones. The photos are reproduced with sufficient quality to review again and again and see something new each time.

Readers can follow themes such as regional changes (southeast Alaska also known as the Northwest Coast compared to Nome in northwest Alaska) and transportation. However, other themes can be chosen by readers according to personal interest.

    Dogs
    Most of the dogs are Alaska huskies (freight variety), such as ones on pages 44 and 55 and in harness, page 58. However, the team on page 67 is actually part of a Saami family (reindeer herders originally from Scandinavia. Note the hats and boot toes.) The harness setup is very different from that of the Eskimo family team on page 128. There are also sporting dogs (early 20th century conformation) such as the one on page 92 belonging to Jim Haly. Look carefully. The dog has just spotted another dog out of view, and kicked up a cloud of dust with his hind legs.

    Electric trees
    Even on the frozen tundra of Nome (page 111) and sprouting ever more branches over time in populated areas such as Cordova page 120 and Fairbanks page 151.

    Military
    One way to trace the influence of the military in Alaska is through men’s hats in the photos. Since Territorial days, the military has been a significant economic and development force in Alaska. Much of the early geological studies and geodetic surveys were military. World War II and then the Cold War continued the inflow of money and people. Photos from pages 168 to 180 show differing aspects of building the Al-Can or Alaska Highway and the later battles of Attu and the Aleutians. (see related posts here on the Al-Can and the Aleutians, https://theelderlies.wordpress.com/special-projects/photo-index-cking-wwii/)

    Miscellany
    Everywhere. The curiosity of Edwardian women’s fashion in open-air fish camp (useful against mosquitoes I suppose); the plank streets (for cars and horses) 400 miles from the nearest highway; even a Piggly-Wiggly store outside of the South.

Dermot Cole avoided the shop worn stash of Alaska photos. However, the next to last photo, page 197, is of the oil pipeline’s zigzagged engineering (to avoid temperature stresses) up the North Slope and over the Brooks Mountain Range. It’s a clever homage to the iconic Klondike gold rush photo of the future miners traipsing up the Chilkoot Pass.

I do have some quibbles with the book. There is an amazing variety of horses depicted but no photos of cows at Creamer’s Dairy in Fairbanks (I like the image of the wood stove chimney peeking out the milk truck to keep contents from freezing at 40 below).

More importantly, an outline map of Alaska is needed, with the places of photos identified.

The southwest of Alaska is mostly excluded. Considering that most folks in or outside Alaska believe everyone lives in an Eskimo igloo, it would also be helpful to include a map of languages/cultural regions in the state. Most readers will not be aware of the significance of the temporary, river going, hide boat depicted on page 44 built by the Athabascan Indian trapper to bring his skins to market. Compare with the more permanent skin boat built by Iñupiat Eskimo marine hunters on page 103. I already noted the Saami family.

The period of the first half of 1919 is missing although extremely important in the demography and history of non-urban Alaska. Upwards of 80% to 100% of people in some communities died during the pandemic of the “Spanish Flu”. The Jesse Lee Home (I ran across this recently published history) was one of several that cared for orphans left behind (those that survived long enough for help to reach them).

A suggested reading list would be nice, including Steven Langdon’s 1993. The Native People of Alaska. Anchorage, AK : Greatland Graphics. ISBN: 0936425172 9780936425177 OCLC: 27405205

A great companion volume would be John S. Whitehead’s 2004. Completing the Union: Alaska, Hawaii, and the Battle for Statehood. Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press. ISBN: 0826336361 9780826336361 082633637X 9780826336378, OCLC: 55665367

This book is not supposed to be a comprehensive pictorial history. Cole did an amazing job just to make a selection from all the possibilities and put together such an enjoyable book.


——————-
[Dermot Cole. 2008 Historic Photos of Alaska. Nashville: Turner Publishing Co.
# ISBN-10: 1596524243
# ISBN-13: 978-1596524248
# LoC 2007938665
Hardcover: 216 pages, Language: English, Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 10.1 x 1 inches, list price $39.95]


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George W. Comstock, nonagenarian leader against TB

Dr Comstock Isoniazid (INH) is one of the classic “magic bullets” which revolutionized public health in infectious diseases. Eastern Europe, at least until recently, was still using BCG routinely. Unfortunately, as the articles below describe, once immunized, only X-rays can be used to screen for TB. The YK region still has high rates of TB, although nothing like it was, I believe.

George W. Comstock, 92, Dies; Leader in Fight Against TB
By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN, Published: July 18, 2007, NY Times

Dr. George W. Comstock, an epidemiologist who made major contributions to the treatment and prevention of tuberculosis and was regarded by many peers as the world’s foremost expert on the disease, died Sunday at his home in Smithsburg, Md. He was 92 and had worked until last week….

In 1957, the United States Public Health Service sought a doctor to study tuberculosis patterns in Alaska, where one of every 30 natives was in a tuberculosis hospital. Dr. Comstock volunteered, saying he saw an opportunity to study preventive treatment.

He conducted a controlled trial in 29 villages near Bethel, Alaska, where tuberculosis was rampant. Members of each household were given the drug INH or a placebo for a year, Dr. Chaisson said.

The study showed the effectiveness of INH in preventing tuberculosis: after a year, INH produced a 70 percent decline in cases of the disease; a follow-up study five years later showed the drug’s benefit had been sustained.

In the trial, Dr. Comstock and his family took INH themselves to convince the participants of his belief in the therapy’s safety, Dr. Chaisson said. After the trial, Dr. Comstock returned and gave INH to those who had received the placebo….

He was a lifelong advocate of public health efforts and expressed disappointment in later years that more doctors were not devoting their services to it. In an interview in 2003, Dr. Comstock said that members of medical school faculties had little contact with public health departments.

[read more]

George W. Comstock, 92; epidemiologist was influential in the treatment of tuberculosis
By Thomas H. Maugh II, LA Times Staff Writer, July 18, 2007

…Comstock was a young commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service after World War II when federal officials were considering a mass vaccination campaign against tuberculosis using the relatively new Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine, which is made from an attenuated strain of mycobacterium that produces TB in cows.

He organized a trial of the BCG vaccine in Georgia and Alabama that stretched from 1947 to 1951 and concluded that the vaccine had an efficacy of only 14% in preventing the disease. He argued forcefully that the efficacy was too low to produce widespread benefit and that vaccination would render the Mantoux skin test for detecting TB infections useless by making vaccine recipients permanently positive.

In a country like the United States, with a relatively low incidence of TB, he argued, it was more important to be able to identify those exposed to the mycobacterium and treat them. Federal authorities agreed, and the vaccine was never widely used here….

Comstock frequently quoted Horace Mann’s 1859 commencement address at Antioch College: “Be ashamed to die before you have won some victory for humanity.” Comstock expanded on that theme, noting that “most of us aren’t going to win any big victories, but we can win little ones every day, and they mount up. [read more at…]

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Gladys Jung nonagenarian

5-9-07, by Greg Lincoln, Delta Discovery

Beloved elder Gladys Jung of Bethel celebrated her 90th birthday last week. Many friends and loved ones came to wish her a happy birthday at her comfortable home near the Kuskokwim River.

Gladys was born on April 30, 1917 in St. Michael to parents Oscar and Annie Hall. Her mother was from St. Michael and her father was from West Virginia. … Gladys is a University of Alaska Fairbanks Alumna, graduating from college with a teaching degree. She returned home where she taught in the old village of Nunacuaq, which has long been gone. In Nunacuaq she worked as an apprentice teacher. She remembers burning coal in the stove for heat. The teacher she worked with had the main school and she would send the little ones to Gladys, who was learning how to teach.

“There were no chairs and the kids would stand at the table and do their work,” she said.… Shortly after, she married Henry Jung and together they had nine children. The couple was asked to open the school in Napaskiak, which had not had a school before.

“My husband made little tables, there were no desks,” she recalls. “We traveled by dog team and by […]

Gladys was also an active member of the Senior Center. A few years ago she recorded a radio ad against the use of iq’mik (sometimes ikmik), a mixture of chewing tobacco and “punk” or tree fungus ash, which is used by adults and even children. She then became known to the latest group of schoolchildren as the “Iq’mik Lady”
Gladys Jung iq’mik YKHC ad


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    Mary Ann Sundown on YouTube

    Mary Ann Sundown (click to read previous) and her sister have a video on YouTube, courtesy of her son, from a recent basketball tourney intermission.

    If the video doesn’t play well in the viewer below, try going directly to the site (I usually have better luck at “Gootube” itself)–


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