Heritage Month: Chistochina Culture Bearer Lena Charley

 Culture Bearer  Lena Charley at an Anchorage Cultural Fair where she was selling artwork. (Photo, Country Journal)  Lena Charley  Born To D...

 Culture Bearer 

Lena Charley at an Anchorage Cultural Fair where she was selling artwork. (Photo, Country Journal) 

Lena Charley
 Born To Drive Dogs 

Lena Charley, matriarch of the roadside Athabascan village of Chistochina, has pretty much set the standard for everyone around her.

A veteran dog musher, she was still running teams after she became a grandmother. Lena Charley raced in the grueling midwinter Copper Basin 300 Sled Dog Race, which runs through Chistochina. 

Her competitors were often big, strong men – from all over the world. 

Lena Charley, without comment, demonstrated to them how an over-50 year old Ahtna woman could plow her way through deadly stretches of open water, extreme cold, and just plain misery – with grace, poise and complete confidence, her dogs stretched out in front of her. 

Her small, swift village-bred huskies were happy to be out on the trail with Lena as she rolled into the checkpoints, bundled up from head to toe, a smile on her face. 

Lena Charley, culture bearer of Chistochina, was born to drive dogs. 


This is a story by the Copper River Country Journal celebrating Native Heritage Month, 2021. It's for everyone in the Copper Valley, but especially for members of the Charley family of Chistochina. 




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