Shadows on the Koyukuk: An Alaskan Native's Life Along the River

Shadows on the Koyukuk: An Alaskan Native's Life Along the River

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“I owe Alaska. It gave me everything I have.” Says Sidney Huntington, son of an Athapaskan mother and white trader/trapper father. Growing up on the Koyukuk River in Alaska’s harsh Interior, that “everything” spans 78 years of tragedies and adventures. When his mother died suddenly, 5-year-old Huntington protected and cared for his younger brother and sister during two weeks of isolation. Later, as a teenager, he plied the wilderness traplines with his father, nearly freezing to death several times. One spring, he watched an ice-filled breakup flood sweep his family’s cabin and belongings away. These and many other episodes are the compelling background for the story of a man who learned the lessons of a land and culture, lessons that enabled him to prosper as trapper, boat builder, and fisherman. This is more than one man's incredible tale of hardship and success in Alaska. It is also a tribute to the Athapaskan traditions and spiritual beliefs that enabled him and his ancestors to survive. His story, simply told, is a testament to the durability of Alaska's wild lands and to the strength of the people who inhabit them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780882409306
Publisher: West Margin Press
Publication date: 04/04/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 235
Sales rank: 446,183
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Jim Rearden has been a resident of Alaska since 1950. Among his various Alaskan jobs, Rearden has been a college professor, a gandy dancer for the Alaska Railroad, a registered big game guide, a carpenter, commercial fisherman, construction laborer, management biologist for commercial fisheries (Alaska Department of Fish and Game), and a freelance writer/photographer. He served 12 years on the Alaska Board of Fish and Game and Alaska Board of Game. President Gerald Ford appointed him to the National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere where he served 18 months. He has written 29 books on Alaskan subjects and 500 magazine articles for about 40 different magazines around the world. For 20 years he was Outdoors Editor for Alaska Magazine, and simultaneously a Field Editor for Outdoor Life magazine. He holds wildlife conservation degrees from Oregon State University and the University of Maine, as well as an honorary Dr. of Science degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He lives in Homer, Alaska with his wife Audrey, in a log house he built himself.
Half-Athapaskan Sidney Huntington, born in 1915, grew up in the Koyukuk River country of Northern Alaska, a region that most Americans consider frontier wilderness. In his early years, birchbark canoes, god teams, and paddlewheel steamers were the primary modes of transportation. His Koyukukon Athapaskan mother died when he was five, after which he lived at a Yukon River mission. Later he attended the Bureau of Indian Affairs School at Eklutna, Alaska. When he was twelve he joined his father on a trapline. Home was a log cabin, and the Huntingtons lived mostly off the land. He was on own at sixteen, trapping and selling furs, hunting and fishing for food, and annually growing a vegetable garden. During his adventurous life, Huntington has learned the habits of wolves, moose, caribou, and other Koyukuk wildlife. Living in the wilds, he has had many narrow escapes, including a close call from a charging bear. He used his knowledge of wildlife when he served for twenty years as a member of the Alaska Board of Fish and Game and the Alaska Board of Game. Wild game and Yukon River salmon still make up most of his food. He observers many of the old Athapaskan customs, and enjoys traditional stories that reveal the history and character of the of the Koyukukon people. Huntington lives with his wife, Angela, in the Yukon River village of Galena, Alaska.

Read an Excerpt

Before our astonished eyes the water rose swiftly to the level of the roof. Hastily, we piled everything we could, including the whining dogs, a .22 rifle, some clothes, and a little food, into my new boat, the fishnet skiff, and into a canoe. We could scarcely believe that the river could rise so rapidly; it had come up the last four feet in less than two hours. As we paddled towards the hills, we knew that our cabin would soon float. We didn’t worry about our cache, for that big tree had survived many a flood. Upon reaching the hill, we unloaded the supplies we had hastily gathered and waited for a few hours. Then we tried to paddle back to the cabin, but the current, even in the lake, was too swift for us. Muskrats rode swirling ice chunks along the shoreline. They too had been washed out of their houses.

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Shadows on the Koyukuk: An Alaskan Native's Life Along the River 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stomped in. She muttered "how dare she talk like that to me."