Birch bark texture.

Ahtna Kanas Fall 2020

Stories from Our Elders

Shared by Fred John on Facebook

Heard this story from my Elder Lemmie in Chistochina. I will be the first one to tell this story that needs to be told. Maybe we can learn and give ourselves to each other during this time we are in. I know we all have that heart in us!

This is about Elder Markle Pete whose father is Mentasta Pete originally from Mentasta Lake.

Back in the 1930s, during the Great Depression, Fred John Sr. said, “It looks and feels like the Creator has turned his back on the people!” The Country was bare of game and people were hungry who depended on the land, water and sky for their survival! Mentasta Pete saw this at that time living down Copper River way after moving and marrying into the family down that way back in the 1920s. His son Markle was pretty young when he told him to take his dog team up to his people in the upper Ahtna region and help with wood where it’s needed. Markle left and went to Mentasta, Susluta, Baltzulnetas, Nabesna, Chistochina and places in between and helped out. They fed him what they had, and he stayed where he helped out. He came back to his father’s place that spring.

Mentasta Pete asked him how they were doing up that way. Markle told him that some barely survive, but they were helping each other the best that they could.

Then he asked him if they thanked him for helping them. Markle said he didn’t really hear anything in words. Mentasta Pete told him not to say a word about this. In hard times like this people help each other not expecting thanks or getting anything in return. Mentasta Pete said I know my people up that way…they will remember and not forget.

I got this story from one Elder that was one of many that didn’t forget.

Markle Pete never mentioned what he did to help out those in the Upper Ahtna region throughout his life. But his time of help during those hard times was always in the heart of the upper Ahtna people!