Authentic Alaska: Voices of Its Native Writers

Overview

In this lively and sometimes poignant collection of essays and autobiographies, nearly fifty Alaska Native writers tell of their unique way of life and bear witness to the sweeping cultural changes occurring in their lifetimes.

They explore a range of experiences and issues, including skinning a polar bear; traditional domestic and subsistence practices; marriage customs; alcoholism; the challenges and opportunities of modern education; balancing traditional and contemporary ...

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Overview

In this lively and sometimes poignant collection of essays and autobiographies, nearly fifty Alaska Native writers tell of their unique way of life and bear witness to the sweeping cultural changes occurring in their lifetimes.

They explore a range of experiences and issues, including skinning a polar bear; traditional domestic and subsistence practices; marriage customs; alcoholism; the challenges and opportunities of modern education; balancing traditional and contemporary demands; discrimination; adapting to urban life; the treatment of Native peoples in school textbooks; and the social realities of speaking standard and "village" English.

With its fresh perspectives and unfailingly authentic voices, this collection is essential for an understanding of Alaska Native peoples today.

Susan B. Andrews and John Creed are award-winning journalists and associate professors in the humanities at the Chukchi campus of the University of Alaska in Kotzebue.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
"Cutting a polar bear is very easy, just like saying the alphabet for counting ones, twos, threes, and so on," states Siberian Yup'ik Linda Akeya in her essay on skinning a polar bear. Akeya's native Alaskan voice is typical of the more than 50 found here. There is a refreshing directness to this collection of essays and stories edited byAndrews and Creed, journalists and associate professors at the Chukchi campus of the University of Alaska in Kotzebue. Most of the narratives were part of a student writing project initiated in 1987-88, with the students' efforts often published in the Anchorage Daily News. The slender anthology includes a brief overview of Alaska's history in relation to its native peoples followed by individual autobiographies, accounts of rural life, formal schooling experiences, and the effects of Western culture on native traditions. The text is enhanced by historic and contemporary photographs. This is a bittersweet book, for there is no denying the destruction of one society by another. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.Janet N. Ross, Washoe Cty. Lib. Sys., Sparks, Nev.
Robin Ridington
"These stories add a new dimension to the genre of Native American literature."—Robin Ridington, coauthor of Blessing for a Long Time: The Sacred Pole of the Omaha Tribe (Nebraska 1997)
Julie Cruikshank
"These are gritty, forthright narratives about late-twentieth-century life in remote Alaska. . . . A wonderful collection indeed!"—Julie Cruikshank, author of The Social Life of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the Yukon Territory (Nebraska 1998) and Life Lived Like a Story: Life Stories of Three Yukon Native Elders (Nebraska 1991)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803259331
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1998
  • Series: American Indian Lives Series
  • Pages: 212
  • Product dimensions: 0.45 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Susan B. Andrews and John Creed are award-winning journalists and associate professors in the humanities at the Chukchi campus of the University of Alaska in Kotzebue.
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Table of Contents

List of Photographs
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Map: Alaska Native Peoples
1 Autobiography 1
Growing Up in Kivalina on Alaska's Remote Arctic Coast 2
Inupiaq Grows Up Traveling with the Seasons 5
Waterfowl Hunter's Dream Pursued by Family 8
Life's Journey Around the Country and Back to Kiana 11
Early Lessons Learned from Grandparents 14
Remember Me 16
Tundra Beckons throughout Life 19
My Life As I Remember It 22
Writer Grows Up Eskimo in "Ancient" Alaska 23
2 Rural Alaska Life 27
Native Food Nourishes the Body and More 30
How to Skin a Polar Bear 31
Making Jam from Fresh Tundra Berries Recalls Memories 33
Fox Snaring, a Painstaking Art 36
Quick Meal of Muskrat Serves As Nourishment on the Trail 37
Inupiaq Woman Learns How to Search for Mouse Caches 39
Inupiaq Recipe for Cooking and Gathering Sourdock 42
How to Make Seal Oil 45
Using Pallets to Warm Your Home 46
Subsistence Means Keeping Busy Year-Round 48
Sisters Incorporate Traditional Values in Modern Business 50
A Boat's-Eye View of Fishing on the Norton Sound 53
My Experience on the Blanket Toss 57
3 Stories of the North 61
Brother's Battle with Cancer Sends Sister Home 62
Halloween Mask 67
Remembering Grandfather 69
Bear Scare 71
Geese Hunting Provides Valuable Lesson 73
Dancing at a Traditional Potlatch 74
Small Aircraft Flight Turns Silent after Frightening Experience 76
A First-Hand Account of the Kotzebue's Water System Freeze-Up 78
Rescue on the Trail of Ice 81
4 Formal Schooling 85
Inupiaq Relates Hard Times in Elementary School in the 1950s 88
Lack of True American Indian History in Textbooks 91
Teller Misled Alaskans on Project Chariot 96
Learning about White, Middle-Class America in Rural Alaska 98
Inupiaq Educator Provides Link between Elders and Students 100
Village English Spoken by Young and Old in Rural Alaska 104
Writer Includes Self in Definition of Computer Nerd 107
Higher Education in Northwest Alaska: A Dream Realized 109
5 Traditional and Western Cultures 115
When People Carrying Bibles Came 116
Death, a Part of Life 119
Eskimo Dance: A Tradition of My People 125
Families Help Define the Meaning of "Native" 127
Components of a Traditional Siberian Yup'ik Marriage 128
Growing Up in the Shadow of the Ice Curtain 130
Discrimination, a Reality in Alaska 132
Adult Child of Alcoholic Offers Hope for Herself, Others 134
Life Ain't Easy on Anchorage Streets for Inupiaq from Kotzebue 136
Defending Inupiaq Traditions on Many Fronts 140
New Paths, Old Ways Contrast for Inupiaq Student 142
Chores Should Be Equally Divided at Home 143
Inupiaq Woman Balances Work, Family Responsibilities 145
Glossary 155
About the Contributors 157
About the Editors 167
About Chukchi News and Information Service 169
Index 171
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