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Home Urban Indian History Spotlights Urban Indian Historical Spotlight Oliver Amouak

Urban Indian Historical Spotlight Oliver Amouak

Oliver Amouak (Tahkhok)

Ethnicity – Eskimo (1895-1987)

If you fly Alaska Airlines, you’ve seen Oliver Amouak’s “Happy Face” on the tale of the airplane.

Amouak (father) and Napanuak (mother) named their 3rd child Tahkhok – Oliver. Upon birth, his parents brought their children to Napanuak’s father for a prayer and a blessing. Gangeemak (the grandfather) prayed to the highest spirit to bless his new grandson with health, strength and above all, he prayed that Oliver would show the world Eskimo heritage. When Gangeemak finished, he handed Tahkhok back to his father, smiled and said, “He will survive illness. His will have many grandchildren. He will soar farther than Eagles and show many people our ways.”

All of those prophecies came true. As a young man, he survived small pox. Then in 1959, Alaska Airlines hired Oliver and his wife Olga to share their dances and songs on a 6 month tour of 74 different cities. Oliver and his wife know that the “Happy Face” logo of Alaska Airlines is Oliver as a young man. Yet, Alaska Airlines will not identify the Eskimo in their logo and denies that it is for certain Oliver Amouak.

Oliver’s granddaughter, Brenda Ritchey wrote a book compiling Oliver Amouak’s family stories of their own traditional, happy and practical lives.

Oliver’s son is Ralph Amouak. If you would like to meet Ralph Amouak, buy a book about his dad or hear his songs, Ralph is hosting a drum making workshop at SIHB on September 1st at 6 pm. RSVP with Chris Chastain 206-324-9360, Ext 2813.

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13 Comments  comments 

13 Responses

  1. TeRangimarie Gray-Wolf

    I know this story, I have heard this story and read the book. I realise this was sited last year. We are looking for our Uncle and friend Ralph Amouak. Can you help me contact him. We last saw him in Belen, New Mexico several years ago and have lost touch. If you have his contact please let him know Rob and TeRangimarie his family from New Zealand say hi.

    • Britt Woessner


      I remember you when Gray Wolf and I visited Australia and New Zealand between 1998 and 2000. My sister Elaine still lives in Brisbane QLD but has moved away from Burbank where Gray Wolf and I stayed and where he ran both drum making workshops, sweat lodges and held talks etc. Elaine and I Skype each other once a week and she said lots of people have been calling her ‘out of the blue’ this last week asking if Gray Wolf is still with us. Good question. He visits me in spirit but I haven’t seen him in the flesh for quite some time now. We split up not long after we got back from our travels. Last I heard he was headed back to Alaska. Next time you are in Brisbane check in with Elaine. She and he were sister and brother in many lifetimes. Her phone number is: 07-5546-8117

      Hope all is well in your world. Britt

  2. elaine piggin

    My name is elaine piggin and my sister and Greywolf (ralph amouak)came to austrailia.they stayed with me many times and did many sweat lodges and drum making.I met brenda probably about 10 years ago and stayed at her house.Many people have been asking me lately where is greywolf is he well.please say hello to greywolf (ralph) I would like to hear from him.we had many happy times together

  3. Yvonne

    Hi my name is Yvone Baker,I first had the privilage of meeting (Ralph)Grey Wolf in about 1998 or so,spent many happy hours learning the ways of his culture,would love to re establish contact,please get in touch,health and happiness.

  4. Karla Neilsen

    I met Gray Wolf when he was on the Sunshine Coast, probably around 1999, or it may have been 1998. He called in, out of the blue, into my partner’s and my natural therapies clinic, and we stood talking for at least an hour (no interruptions, a miracle!) He told me about his father’s face being on the Alaskan Airlines tail as the logo, and indeed, lots of his family history, which blew me away. It was as though we hadn’t met for a long time, and were catching up. When I went home later, I found a book in my partner’s library on just this story of the airlines.
    I still have no real idea why he just walked in off the street and started talking to me, but as I said, it was as though we were catching up. I’ve often wondered how he’s getting on, and never did get to see him officially at any event on his tour. The whole episode had a surreal quality to it, particularly as we didn’t even sit down, just stood there talking together for over an hour. I later thought I’d been so rude, should have said, sit down, but I didn’t even think of it at the time. It was all such a surprise, as though he was coming to see me personally (lol).
    Please let him know I still think of him fondly. (If he recalls me at all)
    Kind Regards
    Karla Neilsen
    formerly at Buderim Naturopathic Clinic, King St Buderim. Qld.

  5. [...] to Yupik, I've referenced an article about his son who claims to be Inupiat. For more reading: Article about Oliver Amouak Article about Oliver Amouak's Son The point of this article's inclusion is the son's [...]

  6. Johne51

    I am no longer sure the place you’re getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend a while studying much more or understanding more. Thanks for wonderful info I was on the lookout for this info for my mission. edkebdddgcdd

  7. outraged

    How can Alaska Airlines use a person’s exact likeness without permission and deny it’s him? (Answer: They can’t) He or his family has to give explicit permission. Not very classy. Hope the family sues!

  8. aaron

    I would like to buy a drum

  9. Michael

    I love it…!!! Its just fabulous….!!!!

  10. Kay

    It is wonderful those of you whom met Ralph Amouak. My Dad passed away in 2013. He was given Military Honors, and as our custom funeral and traditional pot latch. Many of his childhood friends and family were there.

  11. eulysees chelt

    Met “Grey wolf” once….can’t say I cared for him much….too full of his own self importance…never met a “shaman” before….and still havent….so he’s got a little knowledge about this and about that….seriously though….if anyone lives long enough they’re gonna pick up a trick or two, right

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