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.
"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
"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
"All of these stories will strike emotional chords with readers from both inside and outside Alaska. The voices are real, the narratives are effective, and the perspectives presented by the authors and editors provide context for a better understanding of Alaska, as a whole, and of the lives of the people who call Alaska home."—Mary Ann Larson, Western Historical Quarterly
"This is an excellent addition to the growing body of Alaskan Native literatures; the text is a good place for those looking for insight into Alaskan life."—Jean Breinig, Western American Literature
"These remarkable essays by contemporary native Alaskans preserve traditional ways and offer a vision of a sustainable life that encompasses both the old and the new. . . . In fresh and unassuming prose, they describe such subsistence traditions as digging roots from mouse caches, fishing for sea mammals, gathering wild greens, and making seal oil. The culture, from potlatch dancing to blanket toss, that sustained and was sustained by these food-gathering activities is also brought vividly to life. . . . An enlightening and lively exploration of native Alaskan life."—Patricia Monaghan, Booklist
“There is a refreshing directness to this collection of essays and stories edited by Andrews and Creed. . . . This is a bittersweet book, for there is no denying the destruction of one society by another."—Library Journal
"These essays are poignant snapshots of everyday life in the far north, stories that reflect the hardships and joys of this life, as these people try to walk a balance between the old and new ways. Anyone reading this book will come away with a new appreciation and understanding of this unique world. These ‘voices’ create a tapestry of life as it is today in Alaska among Native peoples. This anthology would be an asset in any library, especially those interested in pursuing a well-rounded multicultural collection."—Kliatt
"For anyone wishing to get a vivid picture of different aspects of Native life, as told in the words of the people themselves, this book is recommended.”—Cherie Rusk, Multicultural Review