Our Voices: Native Stories of Alaska and the Yukon

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Storytelling is a precious, vibrant tradition among the Native peoples of the Far North. Collected here for the first time are stories from the communities of interior Alaska and the Yukon Territory. These are the tales the people tell about themselves, their communities, and the world they inhabit. Our Voices showcases twenty storytellers and writers who represent a full range of Athabaskan and related languages of Alaska and the Yukon. Both men and women recount popular tales of ancient times that describe the origins of social institutions and cultural values, as well as meaningful, sometimes intimate stories about their own lives and families or the history of their people. As representatives of an art transmitted through countless generations and now practiced with renewed interest and vigor by people reclaiming their cultural heritage, these narratives create a broad, brightly colored, richly detailed picture of the world of the Far North, present and past.
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Editorial Reviews

"This outstanding collection of Athabaskan oral traditions contains stories of 14 cultural groups in Alaska and the Yukon. . . . A valuable resource for students, scholars, and general readers alike, this collection stands out as exceptional even among the excellent collections available." —Choice
Robin Ridington
"Here the reader can experience the richness and diversity of an oral literature belonging to the northern interior of northwestern North America."—Robin Ridington, author of Trail to Heaven: Knowledge and Narrative in a Northern Native Community

"This outstanding collection of Athabaskan oral traditions contains stories of 14 cultural groups in Alaska and the Yukon. . . . A valuable resource for students, scholars, and general readers alike, this collection stands out as exceptional even among the excellent collections available." —Choice

Library Journal
Editors Ruppert (English and Alaska Native studies, Univ. of Alaska) and Bernet (English, emeritus, Univ. of Alaska) have done a tremendous service to the presentation and preservation of Native American literary craft with their new book. Readers will immediately note its twofold importance: it contributes to the historical archive of Native American traditional stories from Alaska and the Yukon while presenting the most significant narratives as told by Athabaskan storytellers. But this is not an ethnography of Athabaskan groups (of which the Deg Hit'an, Koyukon, Gwich'in, Northern Tutchone, Kaska, Tagish, Southern Tutchone, Upper Tanana, Tanacross, Lower Tanana, Upper Kuskokwim, Dena'ina, Ahtna, and Eyak are represented here). Instead, the book serves to introduce readers to the wonderful variability of Athabaskan narration, presenting 20 storytellers altogether. Ethnographers, lay readers and researchers interested in Native American traditional storytelling, and readers with an academic interest in Native American groups from Alaska and the Yukon will find this book a significant resource. Suitable for public as well as academic libraries.-John E. Dockall, Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803289840
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 10/30/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 394
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 9.01 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

James Ruppert is a professor of English and Alaska Native studies, and John W. Bernet is a professor emeritus of English, both at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Ruppert's books include Mediation in Contemporary Native American Fiction.
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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Deg Hit'an 39
The People's Stories 42
Polar Bear 43
The Man and Wife 52
2 Koyukon 69
The One Who Used to Put His Nephew into a Fishtail 72
Great Raven Who Shaped the World 84
K'etl'enbaalots'ek 90
The Woodpecker Who Starved His Wife 96
Wind Man 105
3 Gwich'in 109
The Old Woman 113
K'aiiheenjik 115
We Go to Fort Yukon 117
Chalkyitsik and Tl'yahdik 125
4 Northern Tutchone 129
Living at Big Salmon, 1930s and 1940s 133
Northern Lake, 1944 140
Northern Lake, 1956 144
5 Kaska 147
The Girl Who Lived with Salmon 152
Dzohdie' Kills the Giant Worm 160
6 Tagish 169
Getting Married 173
The Stolen Woman 180
7 Southern Tutchone 187
Our Shagoon, Our Family History 193
How First This Yukon Came to Be: Crow and Beaverman 198
Naakw: Devilfish, or Octopus, Helper 212
[To Build a Fire] 220
The First Time They Knew K'och'en, White Man 223
8 Upper Tanana 229
My Old Grandmother: The Little Man Standing in the Moon 232
When the Tree Squirrels Cut Fish 237
When Horsefly Was Living in a Stump 239
Raven and Muskrat Story 241
9 Tanacross 245
The Child Who Was Stolen by a Brush Indian 249
How Dentalium Necklaces Came to the Country 253
10 Lower Tanana 261
I Learned the Indian Way 263
Strong People 265
I Belong to My Mother's Side 268
Try to Make Things 270
Never Get Scared 272
Love Woods Life 274
I Don't Go Around 276
11 Upper Kuskokwim 277
Raven Lost His Eyes 282
Raven Fixes Marten's Arm 285
Camp Robbers 288
The Skull 290
12 Dena'ina 297
My Great-Great-Grandfather's Story 301
Qadanalchen's Song 303
The One Who Dreamed at Polly Creek 304
Beliefs in Things a Person Can See and in Things a Person Cannot See 305
The Kustatan Bear 308
The Other Half of the Kustatan Bear Story 313
The Gambling Story 316
Raven Story 318
Raven and the Geese 321
The Man and the Loon 323
13 Ahtna 325
When Russians Were Killed at "Roasted Salmon Place" (Batzulnetas) 330
When the Tailed Ones Were Seen 336
How We Were Trained 339
Two Checker Players 343
Spruce Root Man 346
14 Eyak 349
Lake-Dwarves 353
Giant Rat 360
Around-the-Lake People [1933] 369
The Big Mouse [1933] 371
[The Girl and the Dog] [1933] 373
Two Sisters 375
Source Acknowledgments 385
Index 389
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2008

    My Papa!!

    This book is a really great book, its a book of stories that Alaskan Native's have told my grandpa. Its a little hard to understand but its great.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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