Great Land: Reflections on Alaska

Overview

Beginning near Sitka and ending in the Yukon Delta, this collection of essays on Alaska's natural grandeur takes the reader on a grand tour of a great land. Stopping at Nome, St. Lawrence Island, King Island, Fort Yukon, Richardson, and other points north, editors Hedin and Holthaus demonstrate the diversity of Alaska through writings that offer a rich understanding of the complexities of the land and its people. The Great Land takes readers whale watching, glacier viewing, and visiting the town of Cordova in the...
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Overview

Beginning near Sitka and ending in the Yukon Delta, this collection of essays on Alaska's natural grandeur takes the reader on a grand tour of a great land. Stopping at Nome, St. Lawrence Island, King Island, Fort Yukon, Richardson, and other points north, editors Hedin and Holthaus demonstrate the diversity of Alaska through writings that offer a rich understanding of the complexities of the land and its people. The Great Land takes readers whale watching, glacier viewing, and visiting the town of Cordova in the wake of the great Exxon Valdez oil spill. More than a scenic tour, it offers observations of the Aleuts by a Russian Orthodox priest, remembrances of changing lifeways by a young Eskimo, and recollections of the first white explorers by a 120-year-old Athabaskan woman. It features contributions by visiting naturalists John Muir and Edward Hoagland, literary views from John Dos Passos, and contributions by native Alaskans whose names are not as well known but who know their land and their neighbors as no outsider can. "Alaskans love their surroundings, are thrilled and challenged by them," write Hedin and Holthaus. "But Alaska is in fact a hard place to live, hard and cold and sharp. Alaskans have to be careful how they move." Through these writings, Alaskans and non-Alaskans alike may better comprehend what it means to be a part of that Great Land.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Alaska, that harsh and unforgiving land, is chronicled on a grand scale here by 20 writers from the 19th and 20th centuries, including such well-known names as John Muir, Edward Hoagland and John Dos Passos. The essays cover a diversity of topics ranging from local reaction to the Exxon Valdez disaster to a Russian missionary's fascinating 19th-century observations about the Aleut people. Many of the accounts are highly personal, such as the excerpt from Libby Beaman's diary (1879-1880). The first non-Native American woman to reside in the remote Pribilof Islands, she writes of being captivated by the islands' many seals, only to later witness a slaughter for their pelts. ``Wake of the Unseen Object: Black River'' by Tom Kizzia gives readers an inside look at a contemporary village where old customs are ``part of a separate world lying beneath the visible surface.'' All of the stories touch upon the beauty of nature in some way, with rich firsthand descriptions of whales, sea otters, grizzly bears, spawning salmon and more. A worthy book for those interested in Alaska and the rugged individuals who call it home. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816514373
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1994
  • Pages: 317
  • Product dimensions: 5.53 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
Soundings 1
Beyond Whales 11
Entering the Ice Age 23
Welcome Speech 27
from Narrative of the Expedition 41
No Road 55
from Ktleghi Sukdu: A Denaina Legacy 75
from Notes on the Islands of the Unalashka District 91
from Libby: The Alaskan Diaries of Libby Beaman, 1879-1880 107
We Are All Paddling a Kayak Through Open Tundra, Not a River 121
from A Place for Winter 143
Villages of the Dead 151
Outwitting the Arctic 157
The Embrace of Names 173
from Arctic Wild 183
from Shandaa: In My Lifetime 197
Up the Black to Chalkyitsik 221
Leaving Alaska 279
from I Married Wyatt Earp 285
The Wake of the Unseen Object: Black River 295
Acknowledgments 315
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