Women in Alaska Fisheries | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Women in Alaska Fisheries

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Anna Lavoie, Kim Sparks, Jean Lee, Sarah Wise
  • This oral history project focuses on Native Alaska women engaged in Bristol Bay fisheries. Women play a major role in maintaining set net permits and are critical to sustaining small-scale fisheries in Alaska and the communities who depend on them. Interviews were conducted with women of various ages who have participated in commercial and/ or subsistence salmon fisheries.

Interviewee Collection Sort descending Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation
Wassiliisa "Deedee" Bennis Women in Alaska Fisheries

Wassiliisa (Deedee) lives in Dillingham, Alaska and is the Chief Administrative Officer at Bristol Bay Native Association, where she has worked for over forty years. In this interview Deedee describes how she grew up fishing with her father, who was a commercial fisherman, and how she values family engagement in the fishery.

Kim Sparks , Jean Lee, Christopher Maines Dillingham, AK Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center , Bristol Bay Native Association , NOAA Preserve America Initiative
Anne Shankle Women in Alaska Fisheries

Anne Shankle grew up in Michigan, and moved to Naknek Alaska in 1996 while building her own house from scrap parts leftover from seafood processors. She subsists off the land, and lives off the grid with her dog sled team. Ann has extensive knowledge of medicinal and native plants, and discusses how she has subsisted in Naknek, which includes harvesting berries, plants and herbs from the tundra.

Sarah Wise, Kim Sparks Nakenk, AK Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Fisheries, Bristol Bay Native Association , NOAA Preserve America Initiative
Carla Harris and Judy Jo Matson Women in Alaska Fisheries

JudyJo Matson and Carla Harris are a feisty mother/daughter duo; JudyJo commercially set nets while her mother Carla primarily fishes for subsistence. JudyJo begins the interview by talking about her experiences commercial fishing as a woman. She talks about her commercial site at Graveyard Point in the Kvichak River, as well what drives her to fish. JudyJo also addresses environmental changes and her childhood fishing experiences.

Kim Sparks , Kitty Sopow Nakenk, AK Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center , Bristol Bay Native Association , NOAA Preserve America Initiative
CarolAnn Hester, MegAnna Schlais and Elizabeth Hester Women in Alaska Fisheries

CarolAnn Hester, MegAnna Schlais, and Elizabeth Hester represent three generations of women fishing in Naknek, Alaska. CarolAnn and MegAnna are a mother/daughter team who commercially fish, and all three women participate in subsistence fishing.  In this interview, CarolAnn, MegAnna and Elizabeth talk about how they got started in fishing, the products they produce and their participation in the subsistence lifestyle, which includes gardening. They also talk about their strong work ethic, and what motivates them to fish.

Kim Sparks , JudyJo Matson Nakenk, AK Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Fisheries, Bristol Bay Native Association , NOAA Preserve America Initiative
Gayla Hoseth Women in Alaska Fisheries

Gayla Hoseth is Director of the Natural Resources Program at Bristol Bay Native Association and currently serves as the Second Chief to the Curying Tribal Council. She spent summers during her childhood putting up fish with her grandmother in Bristol Bay. In this interview Gayla talks about learning to set net fish for salmon with her grandmother and carrying on these practices with her sisters and younger generations of her family. She also discusses the importance of fighting to protect and maintain the traditional Native way of life.

Kim Sparks , Anna Lavoie, Jean Lee, Kitty Sopow, Sean Day Dillingham, AK Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center , Bristol Bay Native Association , NOAA Preserve America Initiative
Alannah Hurley Women in Alaska Fisheries

Alannah Hurley is the Executive Director of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay in Alaska. She is a Yupik fisherwoman of salmon for subsistence and commercial purposes. She discusses her heritage and how she learned to fish as a child, and historical socio-cultural processes of the Bristol Bay region. She also discusses her experience and knowledge of climate change and the challenges Yupik people face in regard to climate change and their struggle to maintain their identity, culture, and relationship with the environment.

Anna Lavoie, Jean Lee, Kim Sparks , Kitty Sopow, Sean Day Dillingham, AK Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center , Bristol Bay Native Association , NOAA Preserve America Initiative
June Ingram Women in Alaska Fisheries

June Ingram is an elder Yupik fisherwoman from Bristol Bay, Alaska. She has fished salmon (subsistence and commercial) at her family's fish camp site, which has been in her family since the 1940's. In the interview June describes what it's like to fish with multiple generations of her family and how she passes on values and lessons to younger generations through salmon fishing practices. She also discusses her experience of environmental change.

Anna Lavoie, Kitty Sopow Dillingham, AK Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center , Bristol Bay Native Association , NOAA Preserve America Initiative
Leilani Luhrs Women in Alaska Fisheries

Leilani Luhrs is a commercial and subsistence fisherwomen who fishes out of Togiak, AK. In this interview, Leilani talks about learning how to fish from her Dad and her experiences as being one of the few young girls fishing in Togiak Bay when she was growing up. Leilani also talks about environmental changes she?s witnessed, and how her family has adapted to the uncertainty of fishing. Leilani also speaks to her own identity as fishing as a way of life and her deep connection to the ocean.

Kim Sparks , Anna Lavoie, Jean Lee, Kitty Sopow Togiak, AK Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center , Bristol Bay Native Association , Preserve America
Simuka Smith Women in Alaska Fisheries

Simuka Smith is a fisherwoman living in Dillingham Alaska who has participated in subsistence and commercial fishing for the past two decades. She is a retired commercial fisherwoman and skilled in many trades. She talks about her experiences and adventures commercial and subsistence fishing, and moose hunting as well as her overall life in Bristol Bay. This interview is part of the Alaska Native Fisherwomen of Bristol Bay oral history project, a partnership between NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center and Bristol Bay Native Association.

Anna Lavoie, Jean Lee, Kim Sparks , Kitty Sopow Dillingham, AK Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center , Bristol Bay Native Association , NOAA Preserve America Initiative
Connie Timmerman Women in Alaska Fisheries

Connie Timmerman is a Native fisherwoman of Bristol Bay Alaska who has fished for decades including salmon for subsistence. She discusses her heritage and how she learned to fish as a young woman, and fishing activities with her family. She emphasizes how women, such as herself and daughters, must be skilled for the local lifestyle of fishing and hunting, and the values of family working together. Her bear dog, Maggie, makes an appearance at the end of the interview.

Anna Lavoie, Jean Lee Dillingham, AK Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center , Bristol Bay Native Association , NOAA Preserve America Initiative