Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Eskimo Heritage Reader part 13

A Flood at Sand-Spit

This happened in the Fall of 1913. I was just a kid then. My family was in Nome, camping at sand-spit. There were Wales people and King Island people camped there, too. They came to Nome to buy their winter groceries. Everyone lived in tents down on sand-spit.

A storm began to blow in October. It kept on blowing for days. On the third day, the water began to rise. Waves were washing over the sand-spit, right into the Snake River. Finally the water rose over the top.
Some white people from Nome came to help the natives. There were houses up on high ground. The owners had gone Outside for the winter. Those white people broke the locks on the doors so the natives could take shelter in the houses. My family and my uncle moved into one of those houses.

At the end of the sand-spit, where the jetty is now, was a large NC store. A great big building! It had groceries and a cold storage--winter supplies for the people of Nome. That night, after we all moved, the flood rose over the sand-spit. It broke up that big store and washed everything into the Snake River.

That same night, after we moved into the house, my sister had a daughter. Lilly's older sister Maude was born. It was October 13th in the evening.

The flood washed away all the houses from the sand-spit. The only ones left were half-buried under sand. The blacksmith's house was broken up, all except the machinery. In the morning, houses were floating in the river. At daybreak, they saw a man floating on top of his house.

All the supplies from Lomen Cold Storage had washed into the river. All the winter meat supplies. Everyone was hooking up quarters of beef, sheep, and hams, crates of chicken, and barrel after barrel of butter. Whatever we found, we could keep!

My dad and my uncle and my brother-in-law took a boat. They got out in the river and hooked up the beef and lamb, all that cold storage meat. It was good! The river was clean and cold. Everyone had a lot of free meat and butter after the flood.

My uncle went upriver. At the high-water mark, he found a little tin box. He opened it. It was full of money! Instead he asked who it belonged to. Some white man claimed it was his. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. My uncle just gave it to him.

--Jerry Kaloke of Nome

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