❮Reading❯ ➳ Shadows on the Koyukuk: An Alaskan Native's Life Along the River ➬ Author Sidney Huntington – Dolove.info
This has got to be my favorite book about Interior Alaska I ate this book up in 2 days, totally engrossed in Huntington s long life, full of incredible stories that rival the most creative adventure fiction There are wonderful observations of nature, insightful narratives of the changes experienced thru Huntington s 90 years I would recommend this book to anyone who wants an emotional rollercoaster and some inspirational triumphs of hardship This is the Alaskan story that Sean Penn SHOULD have filmed Fascinating story of Huntington s life, mostly spend in the Koyukuk and Yukon River areas This book is an interesting mix of cultural history of the Koyukon natives, survival stories in the most frigid and remote of locations, family memories and observations about the fish and wildlife of the Alaskan Interior and river areas. This Book Is Than One Man S Incredible Tale Of Hardship And Success In Alaska It Is Also A Tribute To The Athapaskan Traditions And Spiritual Beliefs That Enable Him And His Ancestors To Survive His Story, Simply Told, Is A Testament To The Durability Of Alaska S Wildlands And To The Strength Of The People Who Inhabit Them I am not a cold weather person I have no desire to visit Alaska I was given this book to read because I like true stories about people over coming obstacles At first Sidney had so many obstacles, I had a hard time reading this However, as he recounts his time living the trapline life I felt drawn to the story It was amazing reading how people survived in a climate that seemed hostile, yet beautiful I have to admit a new appreciation for the area thanks to this book. I don t often read non fiction but I am sure glad I decided to try out this year My girlfriend handed it to me when I asked for a non fiction rec and I suspect now it is because this often reads like a Jack London adventure story Sidney is beyond likeable and manages to tell stories that seem impossible in a way that leaves no doubt in the readers mind that it happened He meanders often, includes a lot of highly specific details that are not very relevant It is exactly like listening to my grandfather tell stories about the old days As a last note, before I read this I thought people who chose to live in Alaska were crazy After I read this I am even sure of that fact. Sidney Huntington s remarkable life growing up in the 1900s born 1915 had me riveted from the beginning His stories of making a life, not just surviving, but making life in a place we would call wilderness are deeply engaging He tells his stories humbly and carefully so as not to make himself into some sort of iconic figure To him, living and learning the ways of his Koyukukan mother and how to work and trade from his white father were, for him, naturally conducive to caring about creation Surviving storms, cold to 70 degrees, floods, changes in animal populations that supported them, education in a mission school, rearing 17 children, learning new skills to support his family, alcoholism, and finally, living long enough to receive an honorary doctorate from the UofA for his knowledge and work in conservation, all this and so much make him a fascinating heroic man. This is hands down my favorite piece of Alaskana When reading it I can just hear Sidney Huntington himself telling me the stories as we are huddled in a cabin over a small wood stove I was actually fortunate enough to meet one of his sons while I lived in Fairbanks and told him to tell his father that this book pulled me through my first winter in Fairbanks.This story gives an excellent perspective of how life in interior Alaska changed over the past century It also shares a very personal and honest narrative of Sidney Huntington s own remarkable life After reading this book my love of Alaska made much sense, it is the intensity of a place like the Koyukuk that draws people to it. One of the most interesting books I have read It was recommended by Stan Zuray of Yukon Men.It is of the life of Sidney Huntington as told to Jim Rearden It is an Alaska Native s Life Along the River Sidney Huntington gives you a look at Native Alaskans lives from back in the 1800 s up through the late 1990 s He tells you about his life and the life of his people He gives you a look at their lives before automobiles and snow machines came to the Alaskans How they provided food, shelter and clothing from the wilderness You hear of sadness, hard ship and joy, but no bitterness and success The story of Sidney Huntington s life is amazing. I really enjoyed this memoir by Sidney Huntington, born in rural Alaska in 1915 to a Koyukon mother and white Klondike gold rusher father In it, he shares one amazing story after another about living off the land in a very harsh climate He lived his life with one foot firmly planted in the past, steeped in traditional native ways and tribal stories, and another in what we would recognize as today s Alaska, with most people operating within a global, cash economy.At the end of the book, Huntington reflects for rural Alaskans, education isn t just book learning It is also knowing how to build a boat, a fish wheel, a log cabin, or how to set a trap or a snare It is knowing how to build a fire, how to dress for the cold, how to find your way in the woods Bush education is my Aunt Josie s skill in removing beaver from a lodge It is knowing how to be frugal with supplies, and how to care for equipment It is knowing how to dress a moose or a salmon, how to repair a snow machine or an outboard motor, how to shoot a gun 210 The book is a sometimes flabbergasting account of bush education and I enjoyed every moment of it How inspirational to know that there are people who know when a breakup flood is likely and how to avoid it, how to build a boat by hand after cutting your own lumber from the forest, how to live well out of doors at 60F and above and to stay indoors when it s colder still , and how to harvest a moose.On a side note, I found Huntington s ideas about America s Thanksgiving origin story of great interest I believe the American Thanksgiving evolved directly from the potlatch, or a similar East Coast Indian ceremony According to the standard version of how Thanksgiving began, the Pilgrims feasted to give thanks for the bounty of their new land But I have a theory.Many Pilgrims died during their first winter in the New World During the following spring, summer, and fall, I presume, the Indians taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn and harvest wild game to prepare themselves for winter My guess is that the Indians became concerned because the Pilgrims had not honored those who had died the previous winter, and without a ceremonial feast, the dead had not been shown proper respect I think the Indians convinced the Pilgrims to make a potlatch, as we say The Pilgrims probably considered this superstitious nonsense, so instead of calling it a potlatch, they covered their tracks by calling it Thanksgiving 74 If you are traveling in Alaska, I can think of no better book to carry with you than this one. Having lived in Alaska for than three years Interior Alaska no less I was embarrassed to have not read this book Sydney Huntington is famous here, a self made man and now elder committed to his people Athabaskan Indians, although he is half white and to preserving at least some of the subsistence lifestyle, while also championing education His fame comes only in part from his having authored, with Jim Reardon, a classic memoir of growing up in the bush amid hardship that s hard to imagine I was even embarrassed this summer when I passed through Galena during a long canoe trip and had the chance to meet Sydney, and still had not read his book My paddling partner and I read sections at campfires along the river a fitting way to read it but had made little progress Sydney was sitting on his porch making an ulu when we met him I can t remember how it was we knew it was him, but towns are small Maybe there was a sign on his house We chatted with Sydney, now hard of hearing and a bit hard to follow, and he signed our book To Stefan and Jesse It is about a way of life we will never see again, was good but real hard way of life at times It s Alaska our Last Frontier Was good but hard at times Having finally finished the memoir, this seems like a pretty good summary, as well as a taste of Sydney s telling writing style He s not afraid to share personal details, even some failings a real problem with booze, for instance , but he also sums up whole years or parts of his life with simple sentences I worked hard and got good grades, he writes of his schooling.Sydney, maybe than any other Alaska Native, writes smartly about Native culture in modern times And he lives it I have a plastic eye, false teeth, two hearing aids, and three bypasses to my heart, he writes I call myself the modern plastic man But, modern or not, about seventy five percent of the food we live on still comes from the wildlands along the Yukon and Koyukuk Rivers His book is well worth the read for anyone with an inkling of interest in Alaska or subsistence living.