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  • Writer's pictureJohn Graybill

Meeting Inupiat Son and Granddaughter

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

A Family Group – Noatak by Edward S Curtis 1927
A Family Group – Noatak by Edward S Curtis 1927

In October 2018, John and Coleen met two local photographers, Joe and Kimmie Randall, while judging the  annual photography contest for the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association. They got talking about the Descendants Project and Edward Curtis while looking up some Curtis images on their phones as they talked. When Kimmie saw this photo of the Inupiat family, she shrieked and said that the toddler in the photograph was her friend’s grandmother! Well you can imagine John and Coleen’s jaws dropping and quickly becoming very excited to find out that the toddler is still living! WOW! Kimmie put them in contact with Jackie Ellis, the toddler’s granddaughter, who only lives two hours from the Graybills in Colorado. 

John and Coleen got to meet Jackie and her father Bill, in Colorado Springs shortly thereafter, to talk about their project. Bill’s mother Anna (Jackie’s grandmother) was 4 years old in this photo taken in 1927, on Edward Curtis’ last trip to Alaska. Anna is 94 years old and living in Florida now. John and Coleen wanted to share with them what they are doing and start to arrange a visit to Florida! Given Anna’s age, they are trying to get there as soon as they can! 

John and Coleen took some photo books from the Curtis/Graybill Family Collection of some unpublished prints from Alaska for them to look through. It was quite fun! It’s great sharing family history and photos that they had never seen before (see the above video).

They don’t have a date quite yet for the Florida visit, but are working on it!

Update: They made it! See this blog post for a short video about their visit.

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