Paper $14.95 ISBN: 9781555001087 Published September 1988


In my Lifetime

Velle Herbert


Velle Herbert

Distributed for Alaska Native Language Center

Recorded and edited by Bill Pfisterer with the assistance of Alice Moses.  Transcribed and translated by Katherine Peter. Edited by Jane McGary. Drawings by Sandy Jamieson. Photographs by Rob Stapleton
207 pages | black and white photographs, illustrations | © 1982
Paper $14.95 ISBN: 9781555001087 Published September 1988

Excerpt from the Introduction

Belle Herbert is a Gwich’in Athabaskan woman who lives in the village of Chalkyitsik, Alaska, on the Black River. According to conflicting birth records, she is between 105 and 127 years old. Her son died in 1964 at the age of 68; so Belle may well have seen more than 120 springtimes. People in the Yukon Flats refer to her as Belle, so that is how we will refer to her [here].

I [Bill Pfisterer] lived in Fort Yukon for some years and often heard people mention Belle and her stories. In the fall of 1979, the Alaska Humanities Forum provided us with money to do a series of recordings with Belle telling her life story. I made several trips to Chalkyitsik to talk with her; the accounts in this book have been transcribed from the recordings of those meetings.


Preface by Jay S. Hammond
Introduction by Bill Pfisterer

1.   A moose hunt
2.   Life in the old days; skin tents and clothing
3.   Life in the old days; hunting
4.   Traveling as a child
5.   Traveling in the Porcupine country
6.   A moose hunt; sickness
7.   Old-time clothing
8.   Life in the old days
9.   Traveling; marriages; a tragedy
10. Traveling up the Porcupine
11. Traveling around Graphite; curing by a medicine man
12. Burial customs
13. Skin-tanning, rabbit-snaring, and old-time cooking
14. Old-time household furnishings and the coming of cloth; muskrat hunting and the coming of guns
15. Hunting in the old days
16. Marriage then and now
17. Belle’s marriage
18. The arrival of white people
19. Care of the sick
20. Family history and life in the old days
21. Rabbit-skin blankets
22. Family history
23. Some notable people; the coming of Christianity
24. Religion; fishtraps; the coming of airplanes; how a young man got a wife
25. Another marriage story; old-time dishes and cooking
26. Life in the old days; brush men; the coming of religion

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