"Cruikshank's courage and sense of purpose are highly inspirational themes which greatly commend this book of one man's remarkable life. . . . The attention to texture, text, and context given the stories by the recorder/compiler William Schneider deserves praise. . . . [The Life I've Been Living] is a highly engaging, highly readable text which acknowledges the verbal art of Cruikshank's storytelling."
(Western American Literature)
The Life I've Been Living is the biography of Moses Cruikshank, an Athabascan elder and skilled storyteller from Interior Alaska. In his stories, Moses blends description, opinion, advice, and humor to teach the lessons he has learned from living out in the country. Born about 1906 on the Black River, Moses is the son of Alice Henry and John Cruikshank. In his stories, Moses recalls his earliest memories of his maternal grandfather, Grandpa Henry, who told him about traditional Athabaskan ways, of the Hudson's Bay Company traders, and of the Gold Rush stampeders.
Raised in the Episcopal missions, Moses mushed dogs with the ministers on their winter circuit of the villages, worked on construction of the Alaska Railroad, and helped build many of he mission buildings. This book is about those experiences as well as his adventures prospecting for gold, hunting and trapping for a living, and serving in World War II. Moses trapped with his brother-in-law, Solomon Adams, and prospected for his maternal uncle, Paul Hentry. Moses is married to Ruth Newman, the daughter of Turak Newman and Blanche Sanniq, Inupiaq Eskimos from the Arctic Slope. Turak was a gold miner and a freighter who hauled supplies by dog team to the miners in Chandalar. Ruth was born on that trail and raised in Beaver.
This book is in two parts. First is Moses' stories, and second is a discussion of the historical significance of the stories and the methods used to record and reproduce the oral record in written form. Moses' stories were recorded, edited, and arranged by William Schneider, curator of oral history at the Alaska and Polar Regions Department, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks.