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Anna Nashoalook Ellis

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Anna Nashoalook Ellis

Anna Nashoalook Ellis, photographed by Edward Curtis as a child (left) and by John Graybill for The Descendants Project (right)

Descendants photo © Curtis Legacy Foundation 2019

Anna Nashoalook Ellis

Kanuk (Snow goose)

Inupiaq of Northern Alaska

Edward Curtis photographed me at 3 years old in Noatak, Alaska.  I remember that I was upset to have to go inside for photographs; I wanted to keep playing outside instead.  That’s why I look so sad in the photo.

Soon after that, I was taken away by the “black and white” people [nuns] to go to St. Mary’s Boarding School. There I was prohibited from speaking Inupiaq and now only remember a few words of my native language. At school, I spent a lot of time reading because it was a good way to not think about my home and family. After finishing eighth grade in 1938, I went back to Unalakleet, Alaska. At that time we were not allowed to go any further in school.

I realize now that language and culture are important; I wish I had spent more time sharing these with my children.

This story will be expanded soon.

Your donation for this project will go to the Curtis Legacy Foundation.

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