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Alaska Quarterly Review

VOLUME 17 - NO. 3 & 4

Alaska Native Writers, Storytellers & Orators
The Expanded Edition


Editor's Note 

Ronald Spatz 



Literary Gambling Sticks

Gerald Vizenor

Gerald Vizenor is a professor of Native American literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of more than twenty books on native history and literature, including Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance. His novel, Griever: An American Monkey King in China, won the American Book Award. His most recent book is Fugitive Poses: Native American Indian Scenes of Absence and Presence.


I·ya·qdalahgayu·,dati'q'lagada'a·linu· —Lament for Eyak (with facing translation in Eyak)

Anna Nelson Harry


Giant Rat


Anna Nelson Harry, Eyak from Cordova and Yakutat, Alaska.

Kul K'aluudaay — Moldy Collar Tip (with facing translation in Haida)

Victor Haldane 

Fish Story: Karta Bay


Shag and the Raven


Story of the Double Fin Killer Whale 


Victor Haldane, Haida from Hydaburg, Alaska.

Beaver and Ground Hog Were Pals


Jessie Neal Natkong

Jessie Neal Natkong, Haida from Hydaburg, Alaska.

Haida Hunters and Legend of the Two Fin Killer Whale

George Hamilton

George Hamilton, Haida from Craig, Alaska.

Yéil ka Láx' Kéet Yaanaayí x' eidax sh kalnéek Keixwnéich kawshixít — Raven, Seagull and Crane (with facing translation in Tlingit)

Willie Marks

Willie Marks, Tlingit from Hoonah, Alaska.

Speech for the Removal of Grief

David Kadashan

David Kadashan, Tlingit from Hoonah, Alaska.

Speech for the Removal of Grief

Jessie Dalton

Jessi Dalton, Tlingit from Hoonah, Alaska.

Speech for the Removal of Grief

Austin Hammond

Austin Hammond, Tlingit from Haines, Alaska.

Nda ckshun Tckaimson dis                
— When Tckaimson and Laggabula Gambled
(with facing translation in Tsimshian)

William Beynon

William Beynon, Tsimshian from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Tsetsaut History: The Forgotten Tribe of Southeast Alaska

Reginald Dangeli

Reginald Dangeli, Tsimshian/Tsetsaut from Tombstone Bay, Portland Canal, Alaska.

Sagim Tayaguu Uluuqidax —  The Man of Sagix Dried Meat (with facing translation in Unangan/Aleut)

Isidor Solovyov

Isidor Solovyov, Unangan/Aleut from Akutan, Alaska.

Atkan Historical Traditions 

Cedor L. Snigaroff

Cedor L. Snigaroff, Unangas/Aleut from Atka, Alaska.

Pugla' allria (with facing transaltion in Alutiiq/Sugcestum)

Ignatius Kosbruk

Ignatius Kosbruk, Alutiiq from Perryville, Alaska.

Ivan Durak Steals a Ring 

Dick Kamluck, Sr.

Dick Kamluck, Sr., Sugpiaq/Alutiiq from Port Graham, Alaska.

A Bear Story 

Walter Meganack, Sr.

Walter Meganack, Sr., Sugpiaq/Alutiiq from Port Graham, Alaska.

Qulireq — Tale (with facing translation in Yup'ik)

Leo Moses

Leo Moses, Yup'ik from Chevak, Alaska.

The Crow and the Mink

Mary Worm

Mary Worm, Yup'ik from Kongiganak, Alaska.

The First Whales

Kirt Bell

Kirt Bell, Yup'ik from Hooper Bay, Alaska.

Ivaghulluk Ilagaata — Prayer Song Asking for a Whale (with facing translation in St. Lawrence Island Yupik)

Lincoln Blassi

Lincoln Blassi, St. Lawrence Island Yupik from Gambell, Alaska.

Kivalliñigmi Pilguruaq Agnaq —The Kivalina War Heroine
(with facing translation in Iñupiaq)

Clinton Swan

Clinton Swan, Iñupiaq from Kivalina, Alaska.

Shamanic Flight

Frank Ellanna

Frank Ellanna, Iñupiat from King Island, Alaska.

The Boy Who Found the Lost

Laura Norton

Laura Norton, Iñupiaq from Kobuk, Alaska.

K'eta Sukdu —The Mouse Story (with facing translation in Dena'ina Athabaskan)

Peter Kalifornsky

The Gambling Story


Raven and the Half-Human


The Boy Who Talked to the Dog


About Shamans and the Men with Gashaq


The Old Dena'ina Beliefs


Peter Kalifornsky, Dena'ina Athabaskan from Unhghenesditnu ("farthest creek over"), Kasilof River, Alaska

The Susitna Story

Shem Pete

Shem Pete, Dena'ina Athabaskan from Susitna Station, Alaska.

Raven and the Mallard Girl

John Fredson

John Fredson, Gwich'in Athabaskan from Sheenjek River, Alaska.

Wolverine and the Wolves

John Fredson 

John Fredson, Gwich'in Athabaskan from Sheenjek River, Alaska.


Sally Pilot 

Sally Pilot, Koyukon Athabaskan from Koyukuk, Alaska.




Saginaw Bay: I Keep Going Back


Robert H. Davis

Robert H. Davis, Tlingit from Southeast Alaska.

Egg Boat

Nora Marks Dauenhauer


Grandmother Eliza






After Ice Fog


Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Tlingit (Raven, Lukkax.ádi Clan, Sockeye Crest) from Alsek and Chilkat, Alaska. She is a contributing editor to the original edition of Alaska Native Writers, Storytellers and Orators, she is a native speaker of Tlingit, a published poet, and co-editor of three major volumes on Tlingit oral literature. 

Why Subsistence is a Matter of Cultural Survival: A Yup'ik Point of View

John Active

John Active, Yup'ik from Bethel, Alaska. 

Asraaq, The Girl Who Became a She-Bear When the Owl Disappeared

Sister Goodwin


Sacrifice: A Dream/ A Vision



Nomadic Iñupiat for Kappaisruk





Sister Goodwin, Iñupiaq from Kotzebue, Alaska.  

Shagoon 1,2,3,4

Andrew Hope III




Andrew Hope III, Tlingit from Sitka, Alaska.  

Native Identity: What Kind of Native Are You?

Eleanor Hadden 

Eleanor Hadden, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian from Ketchikan, Alaska.  

Night Without Dawn

Glen Simpson


Tahltan Country


Traveling in the Land of the Native Art Historians



Front Street


Glen Simpson, Tahltan Athabaskan from Atlin, British Columbia, Canada. 

Seed Potatoes and Foxgloves

Julie Coburn


Raven Speaks to Haidas


Julie Coburn, Haida from Kasaan, Alaska.  

There is no Such Thing as an Aleut

Barbara Svarný Carlson

Barbara Svarný Carlson, Unangan/Aleut from Unalaska, Alaska. 

O Dark Sister

Mary TallMountain


Seahorse Music



Nuliajuk, A Sequence

Mary TallMountain, Koyukon Athabaskan from Nulato, Alaska.  

Super Cockroach Tale

Tim Afcan, Sr.

Tim Afcan, Sr., Yup'ik from St. Mary's Alaska. 

Salmon in the Pond

Randall Johnson

Randall Johnson, Tlingit from Southeast Alaska.  

Magic Maker

Buell Anakak

Buell Anakak, Iñupiaq from Northwest Alaska. 

What Hope Can Do

Mary Jane Nielsen

Mary Jane Nielsen, Sugpiaq/Alutiiq from South Naknek, Alaska. 

Candle Lite

June McGlashan


It is Very Quiet


June McGlashan, Unangan/Aleut from Akutan, Alaska. 


Mood Music

Jeane Breinig

Jeane Breinig, Haida (Raven, Brown Bear, Taaslaanas Clan) originally from Kasaan village in Southeast Alaska.  

A House I Remember

George Westdahl

George Westdahl, Yup'ik from Yukon River, Alaska.  


Fred Bigjim


Ballet in Bethel


Fred Bigjim, Iñupiaq from Nome and Sinrock, Alaska.  


Andrew Evan

Andrew Evan, Yup'ik from Anchorage, Alaska. 

Cannery Children

Mary Jane Peterson

Mary Jane Peterson, Aleut from Anchorage, Alaska. 

Willow Was Her Name

Dixie Alexander

Dixie Alexander, Gwich'in Athabaskan from Fort Yukon, Alaska. 

The Anti-Depression Uliimaaq

Susie Silook


Uncle Good Intentions



Adventure in Chinatown 1958

Susie Silook, St. Lawrence Island Yupik from Gambell, Alaska.  


Anna Smith  


WatsÍx Shaayí Mountains



Naatasse Héen


Anna Smith, Tlingit from Anchorage, Alaska. 

River Woman (from Spirit of Woman)

Diane Lxéis' Benson 


What She Wanted



Now They WannaBE Us


Diane Lxéis' Benson, Tlingit from Sitka, Alaska. 



Translation Issues

Marie Meade

Marie Meade is a Yup'ik linguist from Nunapitchuk, Alaska. She has worked for more than twenty years researching, transcribing, and translating Yup'ik oral histories, and also is teaching and writing bilingual educational materials.

Considerations about the Oral Tradition and Writing

William Schneider

William Schneider is a curator of oral history for the Alaska Polar Regions Department, Elmer Rasmuson Library, at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. 

Oral and Written Narrative

Patricia H. Partnow

Patricia H. Partnow is a contributing editor to this edition of Alaska Native Writers, Storytellers & Orators. She is a cultural anthropologist who has worked in Alaska for the past 28 years in the fields of education, oral history and oral tradition, and ethnographic research. She completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1993 and her ethnohistoric examination of the Alutiiq people of the Alaska Peninsula, Making History, is currently in press. Partnow is vice president of education at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, a nonprofit organization for the celebration, preservation, and sharing of Alaska Native traditions.

Political Perspective and Literary Framework for the Text Commentaries

Jeane Breinig

Jeane Breinig is a contributing editor to this edition of Alaska Native Writers, Storytellers & Orators. She is one of only three Alaska Haida to earn a doctorate. Breinig received her Ph.D. in English (American and Native Studies) from the University of Washington. Breinig is currently working on a book about Haida narrative and has published in American Indian Quarterly and Studies in American Indian Literatures. She is an assistant professor of English at the University of Alaska Anchorage. 

Cultural and Historical Text Commentaries

Jeane Breinig
Patricia H. Partnow


Commentary on Eyak texts



Commentary on Haida texts



Commentary on Tlingit texts



Commentary on Tsimshian/Tsetsaut texts



Commentary on Unangan/Unangas/Aleut texts



Commentary on Alutiiq/Sugcestum texts



Commentary on Central Yup'ik texts



Commentary on St. Lawrence Island Yupik texts



Commentary on Iñupiaq texts



Commentary on Athabskan texts



A Talk with Peter Kalifornsky: the Stories Are for Us to Learn Something From

Katherine McNamara 


Katherine McNamara worked under Mr. Kalifornsky's direction on several versions of his stories and commentaries on their meaning.  

Special thanks to Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Richard Dauenhauer, and Gary Holthaus who served as contributing editors to the original 1986 version of Alaska Native Writers, Storytellers & Orators. Their work is the foundation of this expanded edition.

Suggested Further Reading


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About the Cover

“Shaman Flying” is a late prehistoric Inupiaq Eskimo artifact from Point Hope, Alaska. It is made of whale vertebra and the eyes are of walrus ivory.  Although many shaman flew, only the greatest flew to the moon where they communed with the spirits.     

©1986 Sam Kimura  Courtesy of the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.

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Page Updated: 1/12/10  By:  Ronald Spatz