Oral History Interviews:
Norm Phillips was born in 1930 and raised on farms in the Pacific Northwest. The US military brought Phillips to Alaska as a young man. He still remembers seeing a flock of ptarmigan on a nearby hill as the troop ship landed. He also recalls the beauty of the Northern Lights when he was assigned to walk guard duty on winter nights in Fairbanks.
Norm learned to trap after his arrival in Interior Alaska. In the 1950s, he teamed with Ron Long to harvest many beaver. Those years were filled with many humorous experiences, which Phillips is happy to share. During those early years, Norm also trapped on foot in the Goldstream valley north of Fairbanks. Norm's wife Ali (Alice) often accompanied him on moonlit nights, checking traps after the work day had ended.
The couple homesteaded a parcel on the Little Chena River east of Fairbanks in the mid-1960s. Their cabin on this site became the focus for their trapping ventures over the next twenty years. Norm shares tales of many unique occurrences on the Little Chena trapline.
The family has fished for salmon on the Yukon River since the 1960s. Phillips' description of his love for the Yukon is laced with sincere emotion. In the mid-1980s, Norm and Ali shifted their trapping efforts to this area, as well. They have harvested many marten and enjoyed the time spent at their cabin.
Norm was a key factor in the creation and development of the Alaska Trappers Association. He describes the personalities and roles of other important members in this effort. Phillips expresses pride in both the foresight of those who formed the organization and also in the strength and stability of ATA in subsequent years.
Phillips loves the outdoors. Hunting, fishing and trapping have been major focal points of his life. He also clearly conveys his deep love and commitment for his wife. Her name permeates the interview, as he describes their shared experiences. Norm Phillips is the consummate trapper. More importantly, he is an honest, honorable and hard-working gentleman.