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Catherine Attla


1927 - 2012 | Obituary Condolences
Catherine Attla Obituary
Catherine "Nodoyedee'onh" Attla, 84, of the Nolcheena Clan of the Koyukon Athabascan nation, died peacefully at home March 12, 2012, with family and friends by her side.
The family would like to thank Steve Jr. and Geraldine John for living with Catherine and Steven Sr. making this possible.
Catherine was born March 20, 1927, at Cutoff, to Larson and Mary (Vent) Charlie. At 8 months old she was taken in by her maternal grandparents, Francis and Christine Olin, who raised her along with Edith Bifelt's brother, Sidney Henry, Ellen Paul and Marie Yaska. She was raised in the traditional Koyukon Athabascan culture.
She married Steven Attla, Sr. in 1944. They raised 10 children and fostered many children in a subsistence and traditional lifestyle. Together they got a business license.
Catherine was skilled as a traditional skin and fur sewer, beadworker, moose hide tanner, birch bark basketmaker, bilingual teacher, song maker, storyteller, speech maker and volunteer health aide.
Catherine gave many people their Native names. Through her interest in subsistence, education and preserving the language she was on many committees and boards throughout the state of Alaska.
At age 15 she began speaking English and taught herself how to write letters by copying labels. She understood the importance of education and passing on the culture at this early age. Later, she attended night school and reached about a seventh grade education.
Beginning about 1980, she started recording traditional stories she learned from her grandfather. In 1983, she became the first Athabascan women to publish a series of four books. She and Steven worked with KUAC in the series "Make Prayers to the Raven." In 2007, she was awarded with an honorary Doctorate of Laws by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Catherine was a strong advocate for her people and culture. From early in her life Catherine stood among great leaders of our time. She was successful in helping guide us to live culturally and spiritually with the western lifestyle. Catherine traveled to many places to pass on her knowledge, including Europe. She was a mentor to several people including Dick Nelson and the late Japanese photo journalist Michio Hoshino.
She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Francis and Christine Olin; father, Larson Charlie; mother, Mary Vent, and stepfather, Bobby Vent; two infant sons; daughter, Norma Attla; foster son, Crispin Esmailka, Jr.; stepson, Walter John; siblings, Erma (Freddie) Nollner, Flora Elliot, Elmer Charlie, Steven Toby, Albert Vent, and Christine Anseth, and grandchildren, Jonathan Ambrose and Benny Attla, Jr.
She is survived by her husband Steven Attla, Sr.; siblings, Sophie Sam, Freddie (Lorna) Vent, Warner (Alberta) Vent, Herbie (Shirley) Vent, Hazel (Ed) Krause, Mabel Vent, Eddie Vent, Gilbert (Christine) Vent, Sharon (Paul) Lestenkof, and Carla (Larry) Saunders; children, Marie Yaska, Joss (Isabelle) Olin, Vina Bilow, Justine Attla, Steven (Geraldine) Attla, Jr., Earl Attla, Margie (Joe) Ambrose, Benny (Georgia) Attla, Catherine (Ken) Henzie, and Alvin Attla, plus many grandchildren, relatives and friends.
A funeral service will be at noon today, March 15, 2012, in Huslia.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Mar. 15, 2012
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