Northern Athabascan Survival


Northern Athabascan Survival

Women, Community, and the Future

Phyllis Ann Fast

North American Indian Prose Award Series

305 pages
1 map, 14 tables, index


November 2002


$55.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

The Northern Athabascan peoples of the Alaskan interior and the Yukon have survived centuries of contact and attempted domination by outsiders. Their lives today are rich in meaning and tradition yet are also complicated by numerous challenges such as poverty, alcoholism, domestic violence, suicide, and troubled leadership.

Combining scholarly analysis, first-person accounts, and her own experiences and insights as a Koyukon Athabascan artist and anthropologist, Phyllis Ann Fast illuminates the modern Athabascan world. Her conversations with Athabascan women offer revealing glimpses of their personal lives and a probing assessment of their professional opportunities and limitations. Also showcased is the crucial but ambiguous role of Athabascan leaders, who are needed to champion reform and social healing but are often undermined by conflicting notions of decision making, personhood, and leadership in Athabascan society.

A troubling observation of this study is the vast extent to which addiction—manifested as both substance abuse and economic dependency—pervades Northern Athabascan society and threatens to curtail its cohesion and aspirations. But Northern Athabascans are far from victims. As Fast discovers, Northern Athabascan men and women are well aware of these widespread social problems, and many have undertaken initiatives to deal with and heal them. Rigorous and compassionate, Northern Athabascan Survival provides an uncompromising view of a remarkable and troubled world.

Author Bio

Phyllis Ann Fast is a Koyukon Athabascan artist and a professor in the Native studies department at the University of Alaska.


"Fast has crafted a poignant and valuable work which will be read profitably by anyone interested in contemporary Native Americans, postcolonial economies, women and power, and the cultural dimensions of social disintegration and healing."—Robert Jarvenpa, Journal of Anthroplogical Research


North American Indian Prose Award