After a good long life, Steven Attla Sr. "Denaah'ek'oogheeltune" age 90, of the Bidziyh tagh hot'aana (caribou) clan, passed away Oct. 9, 2014, in Huslia, surrounded by his loving family and friends.
Steven was born July 18, 1924, in Hughes to George Sr. and Eliza Attla, and was the oldest of 11 siblings. He was raised in the traditional Koyukon Athabascan lifestyle. When he was 3 years old, he moved with his family from Hughes to the Dulbi area, and it was there he met and married his wife, Catherine Charles. They were married in 1944 and began their life in Dulbi with his parents.
Steven was a lucky trapper, hunter, fisherman, carpenter, craftsman of snow shoes, sleds and canoes, and both steam boat and engine pilot. He raised dogs and he helped his brother, George, begin his dog mushing career. He also was involved in the Huslia Village Council as a chief.
In 1942, Steven started earning wages for the first time at the Galena Air Force Base doing seasonal work. During the winters he provided for his family on his trap line. He learned everything he knew about trapping from his father, who had learned everything from his father, Old Man Attla. During summers he began working on Jimmy Huntington's barge where he worked his way up to steam boat pilot. He then began working for Weaver Brothers Trucking and Shipping. For about 25 years, he worked for Yutaana Bargelines and Black Navigation. During his employment with these outfits, even though he didn't know how to read or write, he studied with the help of others to get his U.S. Coast Guard license.
In 1969, with the birth of his youngest son, Alvin, he decided to retire from the river to spend more time with his family. He began working for the Yukon Koyukuk School District, maintaining the school facilities until he retired in 1985.
Steven and his wife got a business license to practice and work in the traditional subsistence lifestyle. Together they were awarded a community care license to foster children in their home.
He was a great storyteller of Kk'abonts'idnee, traditional stories and stories of his people. He had a comical witty nature and loved to make people laugh with his stories. Steven's knowledge, storytelling and presence will be greatly missed.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Catherine Charles Attla; parents, George Sr. and Eliza Attla; grandparents, Old Man and Annie Attla; maternal grandfather, Reagan; wife's grandparents, Francis and Christine Olin; brother, Frank Attla; sister, Minnie, and infant sister; his children: daughter, Norma Attla; sons, Walter John Sr. and Leanord and two infant sons; foster son, Crispin Esmailka Jr.; grandchildren, Harvey Williams, Jonathan Ambrose and Benny Attla Jr.
He is survived by siblings Rose Ambrose, George Attla Jr. (Kathy), Madeline Williams (Bill), Alfred Attla (Helen), Robert Attla, Barney Attla (Ragine), Marie Yaska; children: Joss Olin (Isabelle), Vina Bilow, Justine Attla, Steven Attla Jr. (Geraldine), Earl Attla, Margie Ambrose (Joe), Benny Attla (Georgia), Catherine Marie Henzie, Alvin Attla; grandchildren: Stevie Demoski, Frank Bilow (Trista), Waldo John, Molly John, Marcella David, Walter John Jr., Debbie Kokrine (Rob), Leon Nollner, Donovan Olin (Pauline), Ryan Olin (Jenna), David Attla (Mary Grace), Roxi Harper, Charles Yaska, Mary Rose Yaska, Eric Bruck, Charlisa Attla (Brian), Ginger Attla, Andrea Ambrose (Dave), Erica Ambrose (Alex), Robin Demoski, Aaron Beasley, Ruth Ann Attla, Julia Wholecheese (Gordon), Melanie Wholecheese (Jimmy), Brandon Wholecheese (Gina), Jonathan Wholecheese, Sarah Ashley Henzie, and many great-grandchildren, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., today, Oct. 11, in the Huslia Community Hall. He will be buried in the Huslia Cemetery.
Published by Daily News-Miner on Oct. 11, 2014.