Oral History Interviews:
Joar Savland was born and raised in Norway. He never lost the strong accent which adds a distinct appeal throughout this recording. After serving in the Norwegian Air Force during World War II, Savland realized that the small farm where he grew up could not support everyone in his large family. He chose to emigrate to the United States. Joar ended up in the Southeast Alaska village of Hoonah, where he has lived ever since. Initially, Savland made his living as a logger, harvesting giant trees for use in piers and fish traps.
Joar still remembers his introduction to trapping. A fellow logger spotted mink tracks in an early season snowfall. He boasted to Savland that he could catch the mink. His partner's success intrigued Joar, who quickly learned the tricks of the trapping trade. Mink, marten and otter were the primary targets. Savland trapped for cash to support his family, but also enjoyed the challenge and working in the outdoors.
Like most men of that era, Savland fed his family from the land and the sea. Deer hunting was another favorite way to spend time in the outdoors and also put some food on the table. Joar also shares stories of hunting moose, geese, bears and mountain goats. Each new tale is more entertaining than the last.
The ocean around Hoonah provided halibut and salmon for the family's meals. Savland also ran a small commercial fishing operation which provided a comfortable living for his wife and kids. He clearly recalls the weight of most big halibut he has taken over the years. The memory of each big fish brings a hearty chuckle and a captivating story from Joar. Similarly, his photo collection and taxidermy mounts serve as the source of numerous tales.
Savland takes pride in having passed along his outdoor lifestyle to his children and grandchildren. Joar enjoys spending time with them on hunting and fishing trips. He is a contented man who is at peace with the life he has built upon logging, trapping hunting and fishing. We should all be this lucky.