49 Voices: Frage Schaefer of Palmer

Frage Schaefer of Palmer (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media- Anchorage)

This week we’re hearing from, Frage Schaefer from Palmer. Schaefer is an electrician who grew up in Point Hope.

Listen now

SCHAEFER: I moved out of Point Hope cause it was getting a little bit too challenging. There was a lot of alcohol influence and drugs. And I was part of that too but I didn’t want my kids around it — my little kids — so we moved down to Palmer.

Right now, they’re probably whaling, seal hunting. Next month it’ll be walrus, and the next month, they’ll be gathering caribou. Moose come along. It’s always just a cycle, you just got to be ready for the next cycle.

I whaled with my uncle, so I’d help him repair the boat, patch up the boat, skin the boat, clean up the whaling equipment… things like that. Fix the snowmachines and get them ready.

Most of the elders are passing away. Like myself, I grew up with my grandparents but I can’t speak the language. I didn’t pay attention enough, so my kids won’t speak it. So it’s just a cycle that’s lost.

When I was a boy, there was a musk ox going wild — I don’t know if it had rabies or porcupine quills in it or something. It was chasing everyone and I was walking home from the store with groceries in my hand and I didn’t see it. It was coming up pretty fast behind me, and someone grabbed my shirt and yanked me into their house. Yeah, he just missed me. He was gonna ram me. I was oblivious to what was going on. But yeah, only in Alaska you get chased down by a musk ox with groceries in your hand (laughs).