Elder Profile: Agnes Judy (Savage) Jackson

Pictured: Agnes Judy (Savage) Jackson on the right; Ellen Savage on the left. 

"My name is Agnes Judy (Savage) Jackson. My parents were Pius Savage Sr. from Holy Cross born to Nikolai Savage and Aniska (Demientieff) Savage and Ellen (Hunter) Savage born to Nikolai Hunter and Jane Hunter from Shagluk, Alaska. I am one of fifteen children, nine sisters, six brothers and a nephew.

Our family as I remember always worked together - everyone had chores to do. The boys took care of outside work such as cutting wood, carrying water, taking trash to the garbage site and sometimes hunting for rabbits, ducks, grouse, and geese. I was the oldest after my older sisters left the village for school or work so I helped my mother with household chores every day. We did our chores without ever complaining about why we have to do them. All the families in the village went through the same as our family. This is what our parents taught us. It was a life of learning how to live off the land. 

In the beginning of every May we started to prepare to move our fish camp for the next four months. We had to fish for the winter food for ourselves and our dogs. During that time our transportation during winter was by dog team. We also gathered berries of all sorts and canned or jarred them.  Again we had chores during the day carrying fish, water and wood to help with preparing the fish for the winter.  As we got older our chores changed to cutting, salting, hanging and bundling the fish. I learned from my mother the importance of taking care of everything in order to survive. Storing the food, using everything we could when killing animals, and to not walk on food that was dropped on the kitchen floor. I swept the floor after we got done eating and before I did the dishes.

She told us what we may encounter when we left home for school.  She encouraged us to do good because our whole life was in our hands.  What we had to do because we were not going to be able to live with them as we got older. We were going to have to live our lives on our own.  Now that I'm older I value life, people, and our native traditions. It is a big part of life and who we are.  I now ask young and old when I meet them where they are from where their family is from, and most of them don't know. So encourage them to find out because it’s their life. Parents I know we are all busy trying to take care of our families - but take the time at your dinner table to share what you know about your parents and your grandparents. To your children it’s so important - even if it’s just letting them know where they are from and their names. These are their treasures that will be with them. Be sure to make it quality time TURN off the TV or any other distraction, be a family for one hour it would be surprised how much of impact you will make on your family. Thank you for letting me share a little part of my life. God bless you all with lots of love."