My Side of the River


My Side of the River

An Alaska Native Story

Elias Kelly

American Indian Lives Series

346 pages
1 map


July 2023


$26.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2023


$26.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2023


$26.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In 1971 the U.S. government created the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and extinguished Alaska Native aboriginal rights to hunting and fishing—forever changing the way Alaska Natives could be responsible for their way of life. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service claimed all wildlife management responsibility and have since told Natives when, where, and how to fish, hunt, and harvest according to colonial management doctrines. We need only look at our current Alaska salmon conditions to see how these management efforts have worked.

In My Side of the River, agricultural specialist Elias Kelly (Yup’ik) relates how traditional Native subsistence hunting is often unrecognized by government regulations, effectively criminalizing those who practice it. Kelly alternates between personal stories of friends, family, and community and legal attempts to assimilate Native Alaskans into white U.S. fishing and hunting culture. He also covers landownership, incorporation of Alaska residents, legal erasure of Native identity, and poverty rates among Native Alaskans. In this memoir of personal and public history, Kelly illuminates the impact of government regulations on traditional life and resource conservation.

Author Bio

Elias Kelly (Yup’ik) formerly worked in forestry, fisheries, and wildlife management in Southeast Alaska, Fairbanks, Bethel, and Pilot Station. He currently works with the Lower Yukon School District.


"This provocative and timely book deserves an attentive audience."—Bruce J. Dinges, Roundup Magazine

My Side of the River establishes Elias Kelly as a passionate, outspoken advocate for Alaska Native resource management rights. Combining cultural knowledge and traditions with a university degree, he provides a unique perspective on a complex set of issues facing Alaskans: Who decides where, when, and how fish, wildlife, and other natural resources are managed, and by whom? Such questions are vital to all of us as we meet an onrushing future.”—Nick Jans, author of The Last Light Breaking

“In My Side of the River Elias Kelly presents a unique Alaska Native voice [as] he recounts his personal experiences—growing up along the Yukon, fishing with his brothers, and hunting with friends up sloughs and downriver. He is telling his own story and, at the same time, sharing opinions that will ring true for many Alaska Natives.”—Ann Fienup-Riordan, author of Wise Words of the Yup’ik People: We Talk to You because We Love You

Table of Contents

Part I
1. Hunting, Fishing, and Resource Management in Native Alaska
2. Wildlife Management
3. Yukon River Fisheries
4. Subsistence
5. Federal and State
6. Roots and Moratoriums
7. Alliance Seekers
8. Whitefish Fishing
9. Yup’ik Economics
Part II
10. Social Morals and Obligations
11. Calendar Cycles
12. Environmental Realms
13. Spiritual Realms
14. Is It Too Big?
15. More Native Teachers
16. Educational Endeavors—Poaching for Dummies
17. Sustainable Management
18. Misnomers of Management
19. Status Quo
Part III
20. Paimiut River
21. Fish and Game Hats
22. Shortsighted
23. Genetic Tributaries
24. John Paul Edwards (1971–2001)
25. River Ecology
26. Civil Obedience
27. Sense of Time
28. Lessons of Humility
29. A Whale, a Whale
Part IV
30. Bad to the Bone
31. Alaska Sovereignty and Land
32. Cooperative Management / Co-management
33. One Nation and . . .
34. Treaty Obligations
35. Management Options
36. Wisdom of Elders
37. Story of Tribes in Alaska
38. All Things Considered

Also of Interest