The Pelagia Melgenak story is a qualitative case study and history of Pelagia Melgenak, a Sugpiaq Alaska Native culture bearer who was the matriarch of the family of the author. Ms. Melgenak was born July 21, 1879 in Old Savonoski, Alaska. She left her home after the 1912 eruption of Mt. Novarupta, in what is now Katmai National Park, and lived most of her life in a new site on the Naknek River near South Naknek, named New Savonoski. Until her death in 1974, she passed on stories, songs, customs and traditions that link contemporary Sugpiat to their pasts. This story documents her life and is a significant part of Sugpiat history and culture of the Alaska Peninsula. It is written largely for the younger brothers and sisters, children, grandchildren, and other relatives of the author as well as descendants of Katmai. It is also for those who wish to understand the bonds of kinships, shared tradition, and spiritual connection to the land that existed during the lifetime of Pelagia Melgenak and the continuation of the tribal community that adheres to the values she believed in.
Thesis (M.A.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2005
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Statement of the problem -- Significance of the study -- The Sugpiaq people -- Geographical area -- Memories of Old Savonoski -- The early years -- Pelagia Melgenak -- Early memories of New Savonoski -- Arrivals -- Winter -- Stories -- Why swallows are Holy Birds -- The raven -- Summer -- Pelagia's matriarchal role -- The flu epidemic -- Council of Katmai descendants -- Brooks Camp -- Sugpiaq Masks -- Mink Island -- The Native American Graves Protection Act -- Conclusion -- Hope for the future -- Glossary of terms -- References.
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