Soaking in the Kotzebue vibe

Seventeen years in the past, an article appeared within the Anchorage Every day Information that may convey two far-flung branches of my household collectively. Once I agreed to work with reporter Rose Cox again in 2000, it was to be a narrative of doing a household family tree with my cousin, Judy Travlos. I had no concept the story would result in the additional genealogical discovering of one other department of my household related by my nice-grandfather, a Jewish Russian immigrant named Herbert Roy Greenberg.

Shortly after our story was revealed on April 9, 2000, we have been contacted by Billy Bailey, who informed us that Greenberg had a Native daughter with a lady named Kathleen Niklik. Our half-nice-aunt was born in Keewalik, a tiny village on the mouth of the Keewalik River on the north aspect of the Seward Peninsula, the place my nice-grandfather had warehouses to retailer gadgets for his dry items retailer in Candle. She was born Might 15, 1905, named Grace Kapook Niklik. Later, her married identify was Bailey and she or he had seven youngsters and adopted Billy to make it eight. They lived in Noatak.

This reality was by no means revealed to my department of the household. However by way of ongoing contacts we got here to know our Native cousins higher. This summer time I made a decision it was time to journey to Kotzebue and get to know that space and relations there higher. I had been to Nome a number of occasions, and to the location of Candle, the place my father was born in 1916. However I knew of no relations dwelling in these locations.

Lorena, one among Grace’s youngsters, and her husband, Whittier Williams, traveled from Kotzebue to Anchorage sometimes and we might meet typically for lunch. Lorena would all the time give me one thing — an ulu or a kuspuk she made. I used to be overwhelmed together with her thoughtfulness and impressed together with her work as a translator and instructor of Inupiaq. Though she was a dozen years older, we clicked.

Lastly, I made the journey this Labor Day weekend. Luckily, I additionally know LaVonne Hendricks, a public well being nurse who has operated a Kotzebue fish camp for a few years as a tradition camp for brand spanking new nurses and academics who got here north to work. We did Ikebana flower arranging collectively in Anchorage and our pursuits turned extra entwined as I shared together with her my household story. She generously agreed to permit me to remain at her camp.

The Alaska Airways flight landed in a cloudy, drizzly Kotzebue. A fast cab journey introduced me to Lorena and Whittier’s place on Entrance Road, throughout from the ocean. Lorena has been going by way of some remedies for a critical mind…

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