Lucy Vaneltsi (Njootli) was born in September 1901 and baptized on November 2, 1902. When she was still a child, her mother passed away, so she was raised by her grandparents, Lucy Martin and Old Martin. They taught her how to survive on the land. From her uncles, Richard and John Martin, she also learned to read the Gwich’in Bible.
In 1919, when she was eighteen, Lucy married Abraham Vaneltsi at Moosehide, Yukon. They had fourteen children, ten of whom died from illnesses such as the flu, tuberculosis and cancer. Abraham passed away on March 7, 1957.
Lucy taught her children all she knew about life on the land — fishing, hunting and trapping, as well as how to snare rabbits and gather food. She was well known for her many skills, which ranged from tent making to knitting. A strong supporter of the Anglican Church, she was often heard reading her Gwich’in Bible or singing hymns, many of which she knew by heart. Lucy was also a fine storyteller, and we are fortunate to have some of her stories preserved in the COPE Collection at the Northwest Territories Archives, which are located at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife.
Lucy Vaneltsi passed away on February 1, 2003.
Source: Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute, Elders’ Biographies Project, 2010