Joanne Nelson | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Joanne Nelson has been a resident of Dillingham, Alaska, since 1952. She wrote Guide to the Birds of Southwest Alaska and has taught courses on home canning and smoking salmon through the Marine Advisory Program.  In this interview Joanne recounts her memories of moving from Idaho to Alaska as a young woman to work in a hand-pack cannery on Nushagak Bay. She also shares some of her knowledge of local medicinal plants and talks about her family’s experiences practicing subsistence. This interview was conducted by NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center in partnership with Bristol Bay Native Association as part of the Women of Alaska Fisheries oral history project.

It’s who we are: Voices of Alaska Native women set-netters. Anna Lavoie, Kim Sparks, Jean Lee (Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission), and Sarah Wise (NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC). 2018. Support provided by Bristol Bay Native Association. Funding provided by the NOAA Heritage Program (formerly the NOAA Preserve America Initiative) and AFSC. Interviews are accessed on NOAA's Voices from the Fisheries website at

Permission to use these materials must be obtained from NOAA’s Voices Oral History Archives at

Voices Oral History Archives does not verify the accuracy of materials submitted to us. The opinions expressed in the interviews are those of the interviewee only. The interviews here have been made available to the public only after the interviewer has confirmed that they have obtained consent.