Lela Kiana Oman (Ahyakee)

December 15, 1915 ~ July 9, 2018

Lela Kiana Oman (Ahyakee) was born on December 15, 1915, the first child born in Noorvik, Alaska. 

Lela passed away peacefully on July 9, 2018 in Wasilla.  Lela was raised in the subsistence lifestyle by her parents Jim and Emma Kiana in the Kobuk River Valley.

As a young child, Lela was selected to attend a boarding school in White Mountain, and continued high school in Eklutna.

Lela met her husband Carl in a small mining town, Candle, Alaska.  In 1950 the family decided to move to Nome where they raised their five children.  She remained in Nome until the last four years when she went to live in Palmer where she was lovingly cared for by her daughter and husband Irene and Earl and their daughter Jodi.  Lela and her caregiver Beverly Collins created a special bond between them.  During the last month, Lela required more intensive care so she became a resident of Magnolia Manor in Wasilla.

Lela was employed with the Kotzebue hospital, Hermons Roadhouse (owned), The Glue Pot, cook for the Nome hospital and Nome Jail and Nome-Beltz High School, Alaska Legal Services and worked as a state social worker to name a few.  She wrote short Eskimo stories which were passed down to her from the elders; she authored and published three books.

A member of the Writers Guild, she travelled extensively throughout Alaska and from Washington to Nova Scotia telling her stories; she was a guest speaker in many schools.

Lela was never idle; she served as a Gray Lady, assisting hospital nurses, Cub Scout den mother, and loved to sew with fur.

She provided a foster home for many children while raising her own children.  Lela was a very religious person and was a devoted member of the Nome Covenant Church.

 In 1966 she was honored to represent Nome in the Mrs. Alaska contest as Mrs. Nome; there she was selected by her fellow contestants as Mrs. Congeniality.  She was also chosen as the Arctic Native Brotherhood queen and selected as Woman of the Year by the Beta Sigma Phi organization.

Lela is survived by her friend and companion, James Johnston, her children Lee of Texas, Bob (Anne) of Washington, June (George) of Arizona and Irene (Earl) of Palmer; 15 grandchildren and 41 great grandchildren.  She was preceded in death by her husband Carl, son Bill, granddaughters Lisa, Krista and Alison, parents Jim and Emma Kiana, siblings Dick, Tommy, Charlie, Esther, Minnie, Laura and Susie. 

Her family writes:  Mom got us through rough times by her hard work and fortitude, she is the end of a great story.  She put her family first, saw to our needs and comfort.  Her faith carried us through hard times and brought us good times.  Living the subsistence lifestyle, we have fond memories from fishing at Fort Davis to berry picking at Banner.  She instilled a sense of worth and responsibility in each of us, traits that made her life what it was, successful and many worthwhile accomplishments.  Lela saw many social changes from a small child living off the tundra to being a successful homemaker, author and career lady.  She never forgot her roots and her beginning as the Girl from the Tundra.

A funeral service was held on Monday, July 16, 2018 at the Nome Covenant Church in Nome, Alaska. Pastor Dan Ward officiated the service. Arrangements were made with Janssen’s Mat-Su Funeral Home.

The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112


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