Between 1921 and 1924, Knud Rasmussen led a small band of colleagues in a journey of investigation across the top of North America. The full scientific report of that 20,000-mile trek by dog sled from Greenland to Siberia, known to history as the Firth Thule Expedition, fills ten volumes. This single volume, Across Arctic America, is Rasmussen’s own reworking and condensation of his two-volume popular account written in Danish, and gives the essence of his experience of the Arctic and its people.
It was the people who most captivated the Greenland-born Rasmussen, who had become a virtual adopted son to the Eskimos of the far northern district still known by the name of the trading post he established there, Thule. His first four Thule Expeditions extended the limits of the known world in Greenland solely, but Rasmussen’s Fifth Thule Expedition demonstrated the unity of the Eskimo world from the Atlantic Ocean to the Chukchi Sea, proving the people all shared the same basic language and culture. As historian Terrence Cole notes in his introductory biography, “The intellectual and spiritual life of the people themselves were his primary interest, not simply geographical discovery, and thus even when following the tracks of previous explorers, he found uncharted territory. His basic principle was to first earn the trust of the local people by showing understanding and patience: living with the people and not apart from them, sharing their work and their food….” That was how Rasmussen approached the entire Arctic: he did not live apart from it, skimming over its surface like the fame-seeking polar explorers of the time such as Peary and Cook, but immersed himself in it—so successfully that a Canadian Inuit elder once marveled that he was “the first white man [he had ever seen] who was also an Eskimo.”
Of most significance to readers today, though, is that Rasmussen was also a noted writer. He wanted to share not just the observations he made but the feelings he experienced, and so in Across Arctic America offered what fellow arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson described as “not only a work of literary charm but also one of the deepest and soundest interpretations” of Eskimo life ever put into a book.
This volume, published in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the completion of the Fifth Thule Expedition, includes an introduction by Classic Reprint Series editor Terrance Cole and an index.
Alaska Eskimo Footwear
Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe University of Alaska Press, 2006 Library of Congress E99.E7O213 2007 | Dewey Decimal 979.8004971
Alaska Eskimo Footwear celebrates the incredible beauty and spiritual significance of the shoes and boots worn by Alaska Native peoples. Stunning photography brings the harsh and striking environment of the North alive and demonstrates how essential footwear was to native survival, while Eskimo seamstresses, dancers, and hunters explain the symbolic meaning of their traditional patterns and decorative details. This full-color volume features photographs from museum collections in Canada, the United States, and Russia, as contributors from each major Alaska Eskimo group—Inupiaq, Yup’ik, Alutiiq, and St. Lawrence Islander—discuss skin preparation, boot construction, and decoration. A tribute to exquisite art and the women who practice it, Alaska Eskimo Footwear brings the beauty of the North—and its traditional wares—to life.
This classic is an original work of literature by one of America's foremost conservationists and is an account of the people of the north, both Native and white, who give Alaska its special human flavor. First published over fifty years ago, the book is still a favorite among old-time Alaskans and, over the years, has prompted numerous readers to pack up and move to Alaska.
The richness of statistical coverage in this book, and Marshall's careful descriptions of the characters he met, provide readers with a window to the world of 1930 and a nearly complete record of the Koyukuk civilization as he saw it. Readers learn what the people of Wiseman thought about sex, religion, politics, and the myriad of ways they found to cope with and enjoy life in a wilderness community.
Dawn in Arctic Alaska
Diamond Jenness University of Chicago Press, 1985 Library of Congress E99.E7J5 1985 | Dewey Decimal 306.08997
"The Karluk had disappeared. Whether the vessel had freed itself from the ice and steamed eastward, or whether, still imprisoned, it had been carried by the ice westward, we could not know. In any case it was gone, leaving our hunting party of six men marooned on a sandy islet surrounded by thin ice and open water. The wind finally died away, in the calm air the water rapidly froze over again, and on September 30 we crossed with our two sleds to the mainland."
In 1913 a young ethnologist from New Zealand boarded a ship for the Arctic, beginning a personal journey that was to make Diamond Jenness one of the twentieth century's foremost authorities on Alaskan Eskimos. Jenness had been asked to join the Stefansson expedition, and his official duties were to collect ethnographic details on the Eskimos—their culture, technology, religion, and social organization. His account of the expedition was published as People of the Twilight in 1928, but Jenness also kept a diary of his three years among the Eskimos. He was eventually persuaded to publish it as Dawn in Arctic Alaska.
Predating the genre of personal ethnographies that has become so popular and important today, Jenness's tales blend his keen observations of the Arctic and its people with his own reflections and sensory experiences. He expresses great adimiration for the customs and character of the Eskimos and great regret and disappointment over the destruction of their lifeway through contact with white men.
The Eskimo Girl and the Englishman is a sequel to the delightful story Once Upon an Eskimo Time, which recounts the remarkable life of Minnie and her Eskimo mother as she comes of age in a traditional village on Alaska’s western coast. Resuming the tale on the day Minnie encounters her first white man, The Eskimo Girl and the Englishman relates the next century of Minnie’s adventurous life—painting a picture of early twentieth-century village life as Minnie and her Englishman marry and find the determination, strength, and courage to live life in the face of tragedy, rapidly changing technology, and unrelenting hardship along the Bering Sea. Accompanied by photographs of early Eskimo village life, the narrative poignantly captures a sense of a long-lost way of life on the Seward Peninsula.
Fifty Years Below Zero is an engrossing account by Charles Brower, the "King of the Arctic," of his life in the north. Brower shares his knowledge of whaling, pioneering, and Alaska Native life and customs before statehood, chronicling a period of important and rapid change in Alaska history with insight and humor. His story is also full of high adventure and rich with details about the many visitors who became his friends--explorers, whalers, traders, and missionaries. This volume is an excellent companion to the oral biography of Harry Brower, Jr., the son of Charles Brower, entitled The Whales, They Give Themselves (University of Alaska Press 2004).
In 1899, George Bird Grinnell journeyed to Alaska on the Harriman Expedition, a scientific cruise from Seattle to the North Pacific. Accompanied by explorer John Muir and photographer Edward S. Curtis, Grinnell spent two months chronicling the lives of the Natives of Alaska and Siberia.
A keen observer of his surroundings, Grinnell provides a unique perspective on northern life in the late nineteenth century. He documented hunting techniques and material culture of the Eskimo of Siberia, as well as the totem poles and architecture of the Tlingit of Southeast. As a pioneer conservationist, Grinnell was one of the first to express concern over the effects of trade and industry on Alaska's peoples and natural resources.
Illustrated with photos and drawings by Harriman Expedition members, including Edward S. Curtis, this volume makes the work of a passionate observer available to a new generation of readers.
Margaret E. Murie with Illustrations by Olaus J. Murie University of Alaska Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS3563.U726I76 2008 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Margaret E. Murie crafts an engrossing tale of Eskimo life in Island Between, as she tells the story of Toozak, a young Inuit from Sevuokuk, known today as St. Lawrence Island. In lyrical prose she chronicles Toozak’s journey, weaving stories of his life as a hunter with narratives of love and jealousy—and even ancient Eskimo myths—to create a moving tale of early Eskimo culture and the impact of its eventual encounters with other peoples. Island Between is a beautifully written novel that explores one man’s complex and delicate relationship with the natural environment and his fellow man.
Thirteen-year-old Booker leads a sheltered life in Vermont—until a spellbinding relic throws him skidding into a world of magic and myths come to life. Anna is an Unangax̂ teenager looking for answers after her long-absent mother reappears in her life. When a mysterious bookmark brings them together on the Aleutian Islands, they’re sent on a dangerous quest to return a magical amulet to Anna’s Unangan ancestors. As they adventure across islands that glow like moonstones, they cross paths with nineteenth-century chiefs, the mysterious Woman of the Volcano, and the sinister Real Raven. While their journey is tinged with the fantastic, it’s based in real depictions of Unangan culture and history—the first historical novel set in Unangan folklore. It’s a coming-of-age-story that will resonate with young adult readers on their own journeys to discover their personal and cultural identities.
If you are a casual reader who wants an intriguing glimpse into Eskimo life, a novice oral historian who wants to know how it is done right, or a student of Alaska who wants an Inupiat perspective of the changes that swept the western Arctic this century, read Kusiq.
(Journal of the West)
A vivid 'inside' account of an observant Eskimo male who mastered much of the traditional subsistence technology and lore and who lived through the end of commercial whaling, the development and decline of introduced reindeer herding and the fur market, and through World War II and its aftermath. In its scope as well as in the presentation of historical, cultural, and linguistic context,Kusiq is far more extensive than [other] autobiographies.
(American Indian Culture and Research Journal)
Kusiq represents a new wave in literature, the expressions of cultural awakenings among native American cultures, the attempt to redefine the native world in written form, to recast history, a history for too long the domain of the white system.
It would be difficult to find a better, more interesting first-person account of Eskimo life during the first half of this century. [It is] second in an ambitious series of oral histories developed by the University of Alaska Press.
The collaborators for this book include William Schneider, curator of oral history at the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Leona Kisautaq Okakok, manager of the Arctic Education Foundation at the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation; and James Mumigana Nageak, coordinator of bilingual and multicultural instruction at the North Slope Borough School District. Schneider recorded and compiled Bodfish's stories, while Okakok and Nageak, both Inupiaq Eskimo language specialists, contributed their skills in interviewing, translating, and clarifying Inupiaq concepts. The book contains twelve chapters of Bodfish's narrative, background and commentary by the collaborators, and information on pronunciation, personal names, genealogical relations, and place names.
Deb Vanasse University of Alaska Press, 2011 Library of Congress PZ7.V2755Lu 2011
A charming children’s book about the return of traditional dancing to one Yup’ik village, Lucy’s Dance tells the story of a little girl who is determined to help her grandfather demonstrate for the people of the town the beauty and complexity of old-style dancing. Threaded through the story are accounts of Yup’ik arts such as drumming, singing, and storytelling through dance, all brought to life with beautiful, full-color illustrations.
Deb Vanasse University of Alaska Press, 2011 Library of Congress MLCM 2018/46940 (P)
A charming children’s book about the return of traditional dancing to one Yup’ik village, Lugiim Yuraa (Lucy’s Dance), written in the Yup'ik language, tells the story of a little girl who is determined to help her grandfather demonstrate for the people of the town the beauty and complexity of old-style dancing. Threaded through the story are accounts of Yup’ik arts such as drumming, singing, and storytelling through dance, all brought to life with beautiful, full-color illustrations.
Once Upon an Eskimo Time
Edna Wilder University of Alaska Press, 2009 Library of Congress E99.E7T838 2009 | Dewey Decimal 979.8004971
Continuing the sacred tradition of her ancestors, in Once Upon an Eskimo Time Edna Wilder retells a year in her Eskimo mother’s life. Wilder eloquently captures the oral storytelling traditions of her people, and she employs descriptions of the weather and harsh climates of Alaska’s Norton Sound to illustrate the hardiness of her mother’s spirit. Family values, subsistence living, and the cycle’s of life form a narrative that captures the now-vanished lifestyle along the Bering Sea.
“Readers of whatever age will enjoy Nedercook’s delightful account of the day-to-day, legends, and beliefs of the ancient Eskimo village of Rocky Point.”—AmesTribune
Plants That We Eat is a handy, easy-to-use guide to the abundant edible plant life of Alaska. Drawing on centuries of knowledge that have kept the Inupiat people healthy, the book uses photographs and descriptions to teach newcomers to the north how to recognize which plants are safe to eat. Organized by seasons, from spring greens through summer berries to autumn roots, the book also features an appendix identifying poisonous plants.
Shadow of the Hunter
Richard K. Nelson University of Chicago Press, 1983 Library of Congress E99.E7N44 | Dewey Decimal 970.00497
Shadow of the Hunter is a collection of stories based upon Richard Nelson's experiences in an Eskimo village of the Tareogmiut, or "people of the sea." The stories follow a group of hunters and their families through the cycle of an arctic year. Each chapter takes the reader into a different realm of the Eskimo world—from the quiet moments of families in far-flung camps to the intensity and passion of the hunt; from the times of fear and danger to those of security, triumph, and celebration.
On a rugged frontier where the ocean was king, most laws came from those who ruled the sea—and few ships policed the western Arctic like the revenue cutter Bear. Commissioned into the organization that would eventually become the US Coast Guard, the Bear patrolled and charted the waters of Alaska and Siberia, bringing medical care, saving lives, and dealing out justice when needed. The ship’s crew and famous captain, the fiery Michael Healy, looked out for Natives and Americans alike in a time when Alaska was adjusting to its new status as a US territory.
Steaming to the North follows the Bear from May to October 1886 as it takes its first summer cruise from San Francisco up to Point Barrow and back again. This is the first book to exhibit the photographs taken by 3rd Lt. Charles Kennedy of New Bedford, introducing rarely seen photos of the last sail-and-steam whaling ships, capturing early interactions of Natives with white whalemen and explorers, and showing lives otherwise lost to time. Essays follow the logbook of the cruise and allow readers to vividly ride alongside the crew on a history-making voyage.
A journey to Alaska’s remote roadless villages, during a time of great historical transition, brings us this enduring portrait of a place and its people. Alutiiq, Yup’ik, Inupiaq, and Athabascan subjects reveal themselves as entirely contemporary individuals with deep longings and connection to the land and to their past. Tom Kizzia’s account of his travels off the Alaska road system, first published in 1991, has endured with a sterling reputation for its thoughtful, poetic, unflinching engagement with the complexity of Alaska’s rural communities. Wake of the Unseen Object is now considered some of the finest nonfiction writing about Alaska. This new edition includes an updated introduction by the author, looking at what remains the same after thirty years and what is different—both in Alaska, and in the expectations placed on a reporter visiting from another world.