Traditional Ahtna Chief Fred Ewan Dies At Age 103

Fred Ewan, working on a church project in Gulkana Village, June 1979. (Photo, Linda Weld) Fred Ewan's Life Spanned A Century. ...

Fred Ewan, working on a church project in Gulkana Village, June 1979. (Photo, Linda Weld)
Fred Ewan's Life Spanned A Century.
When He Was Young, Boats On The Copper River
Were Made Of Moosehide 

Fred Ewan at 79 years old. (Photo, Country Journal)
Fred Ewan of Gulkana Village died on April 16th, 2020 after a long, vigorous, healthy life. He was 103 years old. 
The Traditional Chief of the Ahtna people, Fred Ewan was born on August 15th, 1916 to John and Katie Ewan of the Tsisyu (Paint) Clan. He had lived in Dry Creek Village across from the current Gulkana Airport before moving to Gulkana. In 1938, he married Stella Gene of Gakona. They adopted Stella's nephews, Norman and Harry. A hard-working outdoorsman Fred Ewan worked as a grader operator for the Alaska Road Commission. He helped build the Gulkana Airport, a Lend-Lease military facility, during World War II.
In the tradition of the Ahtna people, Fred Ewan was also a trader, running the E&E General Store in Gulkana, along with Roy Ewan. 
Fred Ewan was an engaged, energetic person who enjoyed keeping busy. Firmly rooted in the extraordinary environment of the Copper River Valley, he enjoyed telling tales of long ago – while simultaneously living a life that revolved around heavy machinery. 
In 2013, he recalled that 150 years before – just for the fun of it – his dad had rolled a rock down the hill at Gakona, using nothing but a sharpened stick. A hundred years is a long time. When he was young, Fred had actually helped make moosehide canoes, following the ancient traditions of Native American people. The canoes were made of three moosehides.
Fred Ewan in 1995. (Photo, Linda Weld Copper River Country Journal)
Also a highly competent subsistence fisherman, Fred Ewan smoked fish – and demonstrated how to do it in a lengthy 1994 photo story in the Copper River Country Journal.

Fred Ewan, cutting fish.(Photo, Country Journal)
Fred Ewan in 1994. (Photo, Copper River Country Journal)

Birthday Drumming  (Journal)
Fred Ewan was outgoing and sympathetic. He enjoyed moving, and being joyful. He loved to dance to old-style fiddle and guitar tunes. His extended family in Gulkana Village took to throwing huge parties for him, and asking musicians from river country to come down to Gulkana to provide the tunes. One of these parties was held in the summer of 2016 on his 100th birthday. Another was held a few years later.

Fred Ewan enjoyed taking his little dog with him to these events, and only four years ago, was still able to actively dance on the floor of the Gulkana Village Hall. A warm and genial man, Fred Ewan was also a man of faith.  He was ordained by the Glennallen Community Chapel in 1972. 

Chief Ewan's funeral will be on Monday, April 20th at 1pm. It will be held from cars in the Glennallen High School parking lot.

Fred Ewan With Puppy At His 100th Birthday in 2016 at Gulkana. (Photo, Linda Weld Country Journal) 


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