University of Alaska PRESS

Book Detail

Book Cover

8.5 x 11, 400 pages, color photos, b & w photos and illustrations, 66 maps, bibliography, indices

Format: paper

Price: $29.95

2003

Shem Pete's Alaska

The Territory of the Upper Cook Inlet Dena'ina (2nd edition)

by Kari, James

Fall, James A.

Pete, Shem



"a remarkable and singular piece of work . . . unprecedented." ”Barry Lopez

"Shem Pete's Alaska is a treasure of personal connectedness to the beautiful land. In the stories of the place names you will find the joy of remembrance in every knoll and waterway." ”Arliss Sturgulewski, former Alaska state senator

"Shem Pete had a strong sense of adventure and curiosity about the world. Over the years with his remarkable memory he became a rich treasure of knowledge about the Dena'ina world and values. He is an inspiration to all who seek the rewarding journey of a proud Dena'ina man." ”Lydia L. Hays, Vice President for Administration, Cook Inlet Tribal Council

Shem Pete (1896-1989), the colorful and brilliant raconteur from Susitna Station, Alaska, left a rich legacy of knowledge about the Upper Cook Inlet Dena'ina world. Pete was one of the most versatile storytellers and historians in twentieth-century Alaska, and his lifetime travel map of approximately 13,500 square miles is one of the largest ever documented in this degree of detail anywhere in the world.

This expanded edition of Shem Pete's Alaska presents 973 named places in 16 drainage-based chapters. The names form a reconstructed network from the vantage points of the life experiences of Shem Pete and other Dena'ina and Ahtna speakers. It is annotated with comments and stories by Shem Pete and more than 50 other contributors, plus historic references, vignettes, copious photographs, historic maps, and shaded-relief placename maps. The authors provide perspective on Dena'ina language and culture, as well as a summary of Dena'ina geographic knowledge and placename research methodology.

This beautifully produced edition is a treasure for all Alaskans and for anyone interested in the "personal connectedness to a beautiful land" voiced by Dena'ina elders.

From the foreword by William Bright: "Shem Pete's experience and wisdom as an elder of the Dena'ina Athabascan Indians shine through this work like the sun”as do the skill and devotion of James Kari, James Fall, and the other Dena'ina, Ahtna, Alaska Native, and Anglo-American people who contributed to making the book a reality. . . . We have a volume that offers a vivid picture of Native Alaskan culture, history, geography, and language, with added glimpses of oral literature and music. . . . All Native American Peoples indeed, all traditional communities in the world would be fortunate and proud to have this kind of record of their life and culture."

James Kari is professor emeritus of linguistics, University of Alaska Fairbanks and author or editor of numerous publications on Athabascan languages and peoples. James A. Fall is a cultural anthropologist at the Division of Subsistence of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He is the author of The Upper Inlet Tanaina: Patterns of Leadership Among an Alaska Athabaskan People (Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska), which was based on research with Shem Pete and other Dena'ina elders.

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