Mary was born at Pokiak Channel near Aklavik in March 1915 when everyone was going out to hunt muskrats. She was delivered by her grandmother (her father’s oldest sister). This was before the present day town of Aklavik was established, and there were only trading posts in the area. At this time the Gwich’in did not live in the Delta on a full-time basis. The early years of Mary’s life were spent around the Pokiak Channel, in Fort McPherson and at Nagwichoo tshik, the village at the mouth of the Peel River.