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Preface and Acknowledgments One century ago, Alaska and the Yukon were associated in the public mind with the great Klondike gold rush. Through the works of poets and writers of fiction and nonfiction – – for example, John Muir, Jack London, and Robert Service – – the North Country became a place of awesome wonder, scenic splendor, hostile nature, and vast white space to readers in the ‘‘civilized’’ regions of the United States and Canada. As ‘‘progress’’ came to areas of Alaska and northwestern Canada through the building of railroads and the Alcan Highway and through the construction of military bases, the traditional ways of life of the Native peoples were badly disrupted, in some places destroyed . Because they were regarded by Euro-Americans as negligible supporting players, even as expendable extras, in the grand drama of America’s manifest destiny, their plight, if reported at all, was dismissed with little understanding . During the past four decades, certain political, economic, natural, and man-made events have held Alaska in the public eye and kept interest strong: statehood in , the great earthquake in , exploration for oil on the Kenai Peninsula and the North Slope in the s, Alaska Native [Land] Claims Settlement Act in , construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in the mid-s, Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in , and the grounding of the Exxon Valdez in  with its pollution by petroleum of Prince William Sound. Recently the secretary of the interior recognized two hundred Alaska Native villages as tribes, an action of uncertain implications for issues of vital importance to all Alaskans, Native and non-Native alike, such as rights to subsistence hunting and fishing and relationships between federal, state, and tribal governments. Even more recently , the United States Supreme Court has ruled in several cases bearing upon these issues. In the Yukon Territory as well, effects of the Klondike gold rush, of the Alaska (Alcan) Highway, and of other economic and politi- x preface and acknowledgments cal developments continue to reverberate in the lives of First Nation peoples . More, we believe, than in most of the older states and provinces, people in Alaska and the Yukon are vitally interested in correcting the longstanding stereotypes about the land and its inhabitants. Both old-timers (sourdoughs ) who know the reality and newcomers (cheechakos) who want to learn it share this interest. Visitors to Alaska and the Yukon, who have increased greatly in numbers in recent years, also want to become accurately informed about the North Country, its people, and their ways of life. Tour companies now offer attractions, and Elderhostel programs offer courses, which explain the diversity of Northern life, ranging from presentations of gold mining by panning, sluice boxes, and dredge to demonstrations of fishing by river wheel, smoking salmon, tanning moose hides, and sewing animal skins. Native peoples of Alaska and First Nation peoples of the Yukon are frequently involved in the presentations having to do with their own cultures, and some Native villages or groups conduct their own tour operations . Thus, the principal objective of Our Voices is to contribute to this corrected image of the North Land and its people by drawing from one group – – the Athabaskans of south central and interior Alaska and the Yukon Territory – – representative narratives that they have told about themselves and their culture. Fulfillment of this objective should attract a wideranging audience to this book – – all those within and outside Alaska and the Yukon who may be interested in the worldview, the human condition, and the literary accomplishments of some of the earliest known inhabitants of the North. A second objective is to collect in one volume a number of the best narratives by Alaskan and Yukon Athabaskan storytellers, as differentiated from books representing only one language or one storyteller, of which a number of excellent examples have been published over the past quarter century. Our book attempts to illustrate the richness and variety of Northern Athabaskan literature in general and the specific artistry of each of a score of narrators recognized as masters by their people. It should appeal to teachers and students of Native American subjects not only in Alaska and the Yukon but in other Athabaskan areas of Canada and the United States, such as the extensive Navajo and Apache region of the southwestern States. The book may find use in classes at various levels of education – – certainly college and secondary. A third objective is to add to the increasing library of material on Native American cultures...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780803202368
MARC Record
OCLC
607194129
Pages
394
Launched on MUSE
2012-07-10
Language
English
Open Access
No
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