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Walter Soboleff, Tlingit linguist 1908-2011

2011-05-22
“Tlingit Elder Walter Soboleff Dies at 102” http://www.ktuu.com/ktuu-walter-soboleff-obituary-052211,0,4639306.story

Noted Tlingit elder Walter Soboleff dies from the Juneau Empire.

http://aprn.org/2011/05/23/tlingit-leader-walter-soboleff-passes-away/

2009-11-14 Celebrating 101 years Juneau Empire – Juneau,AK,USA
In the summer, he’d return to Alaska and work on the seine boats out of Sitka or the cold storage. The price of salmon then included humpies selling for 4 …
http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/111309/loc_516060703.shtml

2008-11-14 nonagenarian centenarian Tlingit linguist

Dr Soboleff was a main speaker at the Elders and Youth Conference and at AFN in Anchorage this year. Elders and Youth is the convention which precedes the statewide Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention. Soboleff is important in anthropological linguistics but better known for his contributions to Alaska as reverend, teacher, organizer, archivist.

Walter Soboleff, AFN 2008

1908 was the year that the 88 million Americans living at the time heard about a “ball” dropping in New York’s Time Square to celebrate the coming of a New Year; it was the first year that Americans would honor their mothers (Mother’s Day). Teddy Roosevelt was president, a postage stamp cost 2 cents, and Henry Ford was developing the Model T, which would sell for $850.
….
Kajakti, “One Slain in Battle,” was born November 14, 1908, to Alexander Ivan Soboleff, the son of a Russian Orthodox priest, and his wife, Anna Hunter of Killisnoo, Alaska. Kajakti (also spelled Kha’jaq’tii) was born into a world where his mother’s Tlingit culture was being forever changed by his father’s European one. He was named after an Angoon Clan leader to whom he was related.

As a 7 year old, Kajakti was taken to an Iicht (shaman) by his mother and was treated for reasons he never understood. He also experienced being sent to the “Russian school” in Sitka as an 8-year-old, only to be sent home again because it closed due to the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, its benefactor (1917). A year later, the 10-year-old served as an interpreter for a doctor who visited Killisnoo during the 1918 flu epidemic that brought many Alaska Native tribes to the edge of extinction.

JUNEAU — More than 1,000 papers documenting Alaska Native history by Tlingit elder Walter Soboleff have been posted on the Internet by Sealaska Heritage Institute in what officials are calling a unique and priceless collection.

Running from 1929 to 1995, the documents provide insight into the Native land claims struggle and the Alaska Native Brotherhood, institute president Rosita Worl said. … “He begins at a real pivotal time in our history,” she said.

from APRN.org
Web Extra: Dr. Soboleff at 100 (extended version)

Tue, October 21, 2008 At the Elders and Youth gathering that precedes the AFN convention, First Alaskans Institute trustee Byron Mallot spoke about the incredible legacy of Tlingit elder Dr. Walter Soboleff. Soboleff will turn 100 years old in November and Mallot said introducing him was humbling. Here is an extended interview with Dr. Soboleff.

[revised 2008-11-14] The Anchorage Daily Newsreader provides additional links to his birthday celebration.

CELEBRATING A CENTURY-OLD NATIVE LEADER: The tributes continue for Walter Soboleff of Juneau – a Tlingit scholar and Presbyterian pastor – who turns 100 years old today, reports the Juneau Empire. In a speech Thursday at the Southeast Alaska Native Summit, Soboleff said that as white culture overtook Alaska, he “tried to take the best of both worlds.”

His son Ross Soboleff, 57, said that pluralist attitude was novel in his father’s time. “It certainly was presented to us, and to his generation, ‘The Native ways are old. We’ve got to put those aside and take on the new life.’ He was someone who pioneered the idea that, well, no, you don’t have to put those aside, those things are part of who you are. … I can make it in this greater society we live in, but I’m still a Native. Things that are part of our way of life have validity and value. Someone had to come up with that idea. This guy was one of the first to see that it’s possible – not just see that it was possible, but to actually do it.”

The article includes photos from Soboleff’s life. Soboleff gave a dramatic keynote speech at the Elders and Youth Conference last month in Anchorage. You can hear it at the Alaska Public Radio Network site. More than 1,000 papers by Soboleff documenting Alaska Native history are being archived by the Sealaska Heritage Institute. Many can be seen here.


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Supercentenarian from Yakutia believed oldest person

From Circumpolar Musings at Yukon College, an excellent source of nordicite news.

Yakutia is an important province for Russian America and Alaska. The Evenks are an important EurAsian-American cultural influence. See for example, http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1220/p14s02-bogn.html “It’s no accident, Vitebsky explains, that we associate reindeer with flying.”

[Seems to me that there ought to be a separate term for those in their second decade of centenarianism. Any suggestions? My Latin isn’t good.]

Friday, October 5 2007, 04 PM
Woman from Yakutia Is Believed to Be the Oldest Person of Earth
Varvara SEMENNIKOVA, who is 117 years old, received a letter from the upper House of the Russian Parliament

VLADIVOSTOK, October 4, vladivostoktimes.com On Wednesday the 117-year old native of the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic Ms. Varvara SEMENNIKOVA, who is thought to be the oldest person on the Earth, received a certificate of honour from the Federation Council of Russia, the Yakutia Republic Committee for family and children reports.

Ms. SEMENNIKOVA (nee DYAKONOVA) is an Evenk. Her age has been verified by the National archive of Yakutia.

Employees of the National archive found a record in a church book of the Bulun Spassk Church (on the shore of the Laptev Sea) on Varvara’s birth on May 10, 1890 to “a native of the second Haltyn Nasleg of the Zhigan Ulus of the Vilyuisk District Konstantin Stefanov DYAKONOVA, lawful wife Maria Konstantinovna, both of Orthodox confession.”

http://www.vladivostoktimes.ru/show.php?id=15337&p=


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Boris Chertok, nonagenarian, and Sputnik, quinquagenarian

It’s pretty amazing to have outlived the Soviet Union and been able to recall how science is actually conducted (gosh, it’s a human activity!)

Boris Chertok, Oct 2006 photo click photo to view Voice of America article

the first artificial satellite in space was a spur-of-the-moment gamble driven by the dream of one scientist, whose team scrounged a rocket, slapped together a satellite and persuaded a dubious Kremlin to open the Space Age.

And that winking light that crowds around the globe gathered to watch in the night sky? Not Sputnik at all, as it turns out, but just the second stage of its booster rocket, according to Boris Chertok, one of the founders of the Soviet space program.

Chertok couldn’t whisper a word about the project through much of his lifetime. His name, and that of Sergei Korolyov, the chief scientist, were a state secret. Today, at age 95 and talking to a small group of reporters in Moscow, Chertok can finally speak about his pivotal role in the history of space exploration.

“Each of these first rockets was like a beloved woman for us,” he said. “We were in love with every rocket; we desperately wanted it to blast off successfully. We would give our hearts and souls to see it flying.” …

The satellite, weighing just 184 pounds, was built in less than three months. Soviet designers built a pressurized sphere of polished aluminum alloy with two radio transmitters and four antennas. An earlier satellite project envisaged a cone shape, but Korolyov preferred the sphere.

“The Earth is a sphere, and its first satellite also must have a spherical shape,” Chertok, a longtime deputy of Korolyov, recalled him saying. […]

I hope the story stays up on the news site. It is an interesting read.


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Nonagenarian long-lived arts figures

List of 10 long-lived arts figures

The article has good reviews of two of Bergman and Antonioni films.

After Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni died on the same day, those shocked by their passing were outnumbered only, perhaps, by those shocked that Antonioni had still been alive, at age 94. Here is our list of 10 quietly long-lived arts figures who are still with us:

Sid Caesar, 85. Pray for a screen comeback for the TV legend so his final credit won’t be as “Old Army Buddy” in Comic Book: The Movie.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 88. The oldest living Nobel laureate for literature, the author of Cancer Ward returned to Russia in 1994 after his exile, and now writes speeches and pamphlets in which he rails against East and West alike.
Arthur C. Clarke, 89. How great a sci-fi writer is the creator of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Childhood’s End? So great, he has actually found the secret for travelling into the future: take care of yourself and just wait.
Vera Lynn, 90. The British songbird whose songs like “The White Cliffs of Dover” kept morale high in World War II has outlasted the Nazi threat by 62 years. The optimism of her wartime hit “We’ll Meet Again” was made to seem outdated at the climax of Dr. Strangelove, but then again she has outlived all of that movie’s principals. Who’s old hat now, Stanley Kubrick?
Olivia de Havilland, 91. Hollywood’s full of humiliations for older actresses. For example, de Havilland’s onscreen paramour Dick Powell (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1935) has been dead for 44 years.
Les Paul, 92. Never mind mere survival: The man who pioneered the solid-body electric guitar – without whom rock `n’ roll couldn’t have existed – is still playing every Monday at New York’s Iridium Club.
Budd Schulberg, 93. He helped write A Star Is Born – the original 1937 version, starring Janet Gaynor – and also won an Oscar for writing On the Waterfront. So you kids stay off his lawn.
Pinetop Perkins, 94. Three years ago, this piano bluesman became the oldest person ever nominated for a Grammy. He still gigs weekly, like Les Paul, at the Broken Spoke in Austin, Tex.
Studs Terkel, 94. The famed broadcaster and documentarist of the U.S. working class recently said, “The older you are, the freer you are, as long as you last.” The productive Terkel seems to believe it; he’s got a memoir coming out in November. (J.D. Salinger, seven years younger, hasn’t published anything new for 42 years.)
Albert Hofman, 101. Not strictly an artist, but this European scientist’s creation of LSD in 1938 made acid rock, Robert Crumb and other ’60s innovations possible. Here’s a one-hour NFB documentary on him: tinyurl.com/yr44r7
-Garnet Fraser

But, there are others, too, such as Jack LaLanne and Wow!!! Lena Horne

Born Sept. 26, 1914, Jack LaLanne says he started life “as a weak, sick, miserable kid,” who was addicted to sugar. He learned about exercising and eating healthy when he was 15 and began his fitness crusade. At age 35, he was a living example of the positive effects of exercising and eating right.”

Trained as a chiropractor, LaLanne began advocating weight training in the 1930s even though doctors at the time thought the new practice would give people heart attacks and lower their sex drives. Science has since proved LeLanne was right…

LaLanne took his ideas on health and fitness to the national airways with the Jack LaLanne Show, which ran from 1951-1985. The show earned LaLanne a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. […]

http://www.wpostflash.com/wp-srv/photo/gallery/070608/GAL-07Jun08-77378/captions/PHO-07Jun08-77383.html

Jack LaLanneJack LaLanne — who’s planning a long swim for his 95th birthday — demonstrates how to keep in shape in the gym of a Washington hotel. (Photos By Carol Guzy — The Washington Post)

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Dr. Lydia T. Black

Dr Lydia T. Black, at Kenai Fjord, July, 2002 by grandson, Andrew McEvoy

Dr. Black survived Stalin, forced labor under the Nazis, refugee status, and never suffered fools, the pompous, the bully, nor laziness or sloppy scholarship. She was fond of cats, dogs, children, and those needing a friend in a strange land.

The following is summarized from documents at Lydia T. Black 1925 to 2007 and from the Kodiak Daily Mirror

Widowed with young children at 44, she went to college and finished her BA and MA in two years and her Ph.D. in another two years.

She studied at Northeastern University and Brandeis University in the Boston area before receiving her doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She joined the faculty of anthropology in 1973 at Providence College in Rhode Island. She moved to Alaska in 1984 as Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks, whence she “retired” in 1998.

She continued her work in Kodiak, where she helped translate and catalogue Russian archives of St. Herman’s Seminary. The Orthodox Church in Alaska recognized her contribution by awarding her the Cross of St. Herman.

She wrote at least 66 more books and articles appearing in publications as diverse as Natural History, Arctic Anthropology and Studies in Soviet Thought and was a contributor to various exhibits and conferences on the Arctic, including the Library of Congress’ Meeting of the Frontiers, the New York Museum of Natural History’s Jesup Centenary Congress and the Smithsonian Institution’s Crossroads of the Continents.

One of her best-known books, “Aleut art — Unangam aguqaadangin” is a collection of beautifully photographed and carefully documented art made by Alaska Natives of the Aleutian Islands. Another, “Russians in Alaska, 1732 to 1867,” was published in 2004, the year Lydia turned 79.

In 2001, Russia awarded her the Order of Friendship, honoring her contribution to promoting cross-cultural understanding between Russia and America. She received the Alaska Anthropological Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and the Alaska Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award for the Humanities in 2005.

Lydia was born in Kiev, where her grandmother came to live with the family. Her grandmother instituted an educational regimen for her which included two days per week of speaking Russian, two days per week of speaking French and two days per week of speaking German. On Sundays, the family could relax and speak Ukrainian. It was decreed that Lydia would study English in school. Lydia’s grandmother would take her to the ‘secret church’, hosted by three elderly women – the KGB eventually did arrive to arrest them.

Lydia’s father was executed when she was eight years old. At 16 (1941) her mother died of TB. Lydia was picked up into forced labor for Germany. At war’s end, Lydia was in Munich and got a job scrubbing toilets in American officers’ quarters. They realized Lydia could speak six languages (she had learned Polish during the war) so she became a translator at the UNRRA’s displaced children’s camp.

Lydia met and married Igor A. Black. They then emigrated to the U.S. in 1950. Igor became a thermodynamics engineer whose work on the Apollo Mission was officially commemorated by NASA. Lydia was a full-time wife and mother. Suddenly Igor died in 1969, leaving Lydia alone with three teen-aged daughters and a toddler. With her older daughters’ consent, Lydia returned to school as a full-time college student.

Dr Black died in Kodiak, AK, with family, friends, Orthodox services, and the feline sibling companions Masia and Vasia present. Masia, brother Vasia, and companion human Lydia Black
Masia, faithful guardian during Lydia’s illness would wake Lydia in the middle of the night, to great complaint. However, Masia seemed to be sensing something physically awry in Lydia’s breathing while asleep and was waking her to “reset” her. Masia would reach over and: Slap-slap-slap, at which point Lydia would sputter and tell the cat to stop it. [Click on small picture to enlarge.]

Anthropologist Lydia Black Dead at 81
Casey Kelly, KMXT

KODIAK, AK (2007-03-13) Anthropologist Lydia Black, author of many books on Alaska Native culture and Alaska history, died Monday morning of liver failure at her home in Kodiak. She was 81. © Copyright 2007, apti

audio file (mp3 format), click to play or right click to download and save.


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