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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

 

Property Name Wassillie Trefon Dena'ina Fish Cache
Reference Number 13000348
State Alaska
County Lake and Peninsula Borough
Town Port Alsworth
Street Address Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, One Park Place
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 6/5/2013
Areas of Significance
Link to full file http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13000348.pdf
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The Trefon Cache is significant under Criteria A and C. It is a unique resource as it is a largely intact example of a well-crafted traditional piece of Dena'ina vernacular architecture with a documented builder and concise history of its use since about 1920. The Wassillie Trefon Fish Cache is the last best example of the traditional Dena' ina Athabascan fish cache in the Lake Clark-Iliamna area. Indeed, it is very likely to be the best example of a southwestern Alaska Native log cache extant in the entire Bristol Bay region. [Hjalmer Olson, telephone conversation, September 4, 2010]. While this kind of log fish cache formerly was ubiquitous in Dena'ina and inland Yup'ik villages, hunting and trapping camps and summer fish villages they have now largely disappeared from the scene. No doubt there are a few caches extant, but most of those would be in a state of neglect and decay. The type of construction of the Wassillie Trefon cache is that of a hand hewn square notched log building. Log houses and cabins were generally built with the same kind of modified dove-tail notching that characterizes the square notch. The elevated log fish cache was very common in nineteenth century Bristol Bay upland villages for the preservation of large numbers of dried salmon many of which were dog fish which meant they were for consumption by sled dogs. The species of this kind of salmon was the most common Oncorhynchus nerka also known as red or sockeye salmon. Under criterion C Wassillie Trefon was acknowledged to be a master woodworker by his peers and the present generation in Nondalton in the art of traditional Dena'ina woodcraft. Wassillie Trefon built all his own log houses and caches for his family at Miller Creek, Tanalian Point, Old Nondalton and Nondalton. He built plank skiffs from lumber he sawed both with a whip saw and by assisting Charlie Denison on his steam powered sawmill on Lake Clark. Study of the cache construction will yield important Dena'ina wood working techniques and methods. The cache was built without nails or spikes. A tightly grooved vertical stick was hammered into a groove running the height of the inside of the gable end providing the rigidity keeping the gable logs together. In effect, the Trefon cache is a kind of blueprint for a basic traditional Dena'ina structure that will inform subsequent generations on the details of a once common but now largely extinct local way of secure food storage and preservation from the rigors of the environment, be those challenges mold, mice or brown bears.

 

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria