Interested in Eskimo stories? Read The Stone Woman Legend, by Adolph J. Roehl, Sr .
The Stone Woman Legend exists in the State of Alaska's Bristol Bay region. It was started by the Yupik Eskimo culture, who have lived here for almost 10,000 years. This fact has been proven by the carbon dating of artifacts within the Bristol Bay area.
This Eskimo legend's true beginning cannot be dated, but many versions of it exist even today. When our mother, Alma Osterhaus Roehl first told us, her children about the Stone Woman Legend, her version did not include the existence of the Shaman. It wasn't until 8 years ago that I learned of the Shaman's supposed influence in the legend.
The belief in Shamanism was mostly gone by the time I was born in Dillingham, Alaska in 1939. There exists a picture of a shaman taken in the 1920's in the mostly abandoned and seasonal village of Nushagak, which is located almost directly across the river from the City of Dillingham.
To those of you who don't understand about shamans, I'll give you a brief history. They were able to perform all different kinds of their type of witchcraft. This was to make people afraid of them so that the people would do their bidding without question.
Shaman's and Shamanism existed throughout most of the Yupik Eskimo culture within the State of Alaska. Shamanism was replaced by religion after the invasion of the Western culture. Some people still believe that Shaman's still do exist, but that they are keeping a very low profile of themselves. They remain prevalent in Eskimo legend's and Eskimo art.
Our mother had lived at the old village of Togiak for about 8 to 10 years during her childhood. The City of Togiak is now located directly across Togiak Bay from the old village of Togiak. It was there that she became proficient in the Yupik Eskimo language and had learned of their particular Eskimo legends and customs.
Both of my parents, Henry and Alma Roehl, had fathers of German descent and mothers of the aboriginal people. My grandfather on dad's side, Fredric Johann Roehl was born in Hamburg, Germany and left there as a 13 year old working on an old sailing ship as a cabin boy. He is reported to have brought the art of "pickled fish" into the Bristol Bay region in the 1890's. His wife, my grandmother, was the daughter of a Tribal Chief.
My mother's dad, Adolph Osterhaus (after whom I am named) is reported to have come from somewhere around the Breman, Germany area. He took a job as a store-keeper in the old village of Togiak and moved his family there early in the 1920s. His wife, my mother's mother, was of Yupik Eskimo descent.
This of course leaves me as half German, and half Yupik Eskimo. But, I am very proud of my Eskimo culture and am a registered member of the Curyung Tribal Council. This tribal council has over 2,400 registered members who mostly reside at Dillingham, Alaska.