49 Voices: Peter Atchak of Bethel

Peter Atchak of Bethel (Photo by Katie Basile, KYUK – Bethel)

This week we’re hearing from Peter Atchak in Bethel. Atchak was the president of the Bethel volunteer Search and Rescue team for years, before retiring 6 years ago.

ATCHAK: I was born in a tent right outside of Chevak, when Chevak was in the process of moving from a tundra village to a higher place to be away from frequent flooding in those days. That June, 1950. I had five sisters and five brothers. There was six of us boys and five girls. We lost only one, so we’re down to four sisters now.

We would have to share a lot, but that was just part of life. We didn’t complain about it. We didn’t say anything. We just shared and made it.

The chores were, of course, a must.

Make sure there’s wood. Make sure we had water. And then dump honey buckets. But that was just part of life.

You know, you needed dog teams. Every household had a dog team. You just needed them to subsist off the land and to gather wood and every household had a team. And they had to take care of them daily. It’s was just something to do, something that needed to be done. So we took care of the dogs because they were a lot of help to live our lifestyle that we did in the earlier days. So dogs were just part of our family.

I wasn’t bored or looking for something to do. There was always something to do.

Anna Rose MacArthur is a reporter at KYUK in Bethel.

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