"This is a gorgeous book . . . best of all, it is a glorious treatment of a culturally diverse, adaptive and resilient people. . . . It deserves attentive reading."
"This well presented information isn't a 'study' of people--it is the story of a people. It is a warm book with wonderful photos of people who know and live who they are."
(Nugguam: The Quinault Peoples News)
This book is an extraordinary introduction to the indigenous peoples and vital cultures of Alaska's southcentral coast. Combining oral tradition, history, and archaeology, the volume traces the Alutiiq path through ancestral generations to contemporary life, including today's compelling issues of cultural identity and autonomy. It is beautifully and heavily illustrated by Alutiiq art, objects, and images from the current museum exhibition on Alutiiq peoples that is now touring Alaska.
Diversity is one of the signal points of this volume: no one voice, and no single approach, could define what it means to be Alutiiq. The many contributors discuss Alutiiq relations with neighboring Alaska Native peoples and with non-Native traders and invaders, with the sea and land, with place and time, and with animals and spirit. Writers include Alutiiq writers, elders, scholars, and storytellers convey a many-sided sense of cultural values and beliefs, even as they recall the struggle to survive more than two centuries of Russian and Euro-American domination. From anthropologists and historians come insights into the great originality of Alutiiq culture as well as its debt to formative influences from around the North Pacific. Seen from these many perspectives, Alutiiq identity emerges as a rich mosaic of people, location, and experience.
Aron L. Crowell is Alaska director of the Arctic Studies Center, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution in Anchorage.
Amy F. Steffian is deputy director of the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in Kodiak, Alaska.
Gordon L. Pullar is director of the Department of Alaska Native and Rural Development, College of Rural Alaska, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.