Alaskan Athabaskan

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Alaskan Athabaskan


Alaskan Athabaskan (pronounced uh-LAS-ken ath-uh-PAS-ken; also spelled “Athapascan”). The name came from the Canadian lake the Cree called Athabasca, which means “grass here and there.” The Cree also applied the name to the Natives who lived on the opposite side of the lake. Today the term also refers to the language spoken by eleven groups of Alaska Native. The Alaskan Athabaskan call themselves Dene (or Dinnie), meaning “the People.”


The Alaskan Athabaskan are a Subarctic people who live in an area directly south of the true Arctic regions. Their land stretches from the border of the Canadian Yukon Territory to just beyond the Arctic Circle. They once wandered throughout a vast region, but after Europeans came they built villages of fifty to five hundred people along the Yukon, Koyuckuk, Tanana, and Copper Rivers. Most of them still live in those areas in the early twenty-first century. Few villages have roads leading into them and are reached by boat, snowmobile, or plane.


In the 1850s there were more than ten thousand Alaskan Athabaskans. In the 1990 U.S. Census, 14,198 people identified themselves as Alaskan Athabaskans. In 2000 the census showed 14,520 Alaska Athabaskan, as well as 18,838 people who claimed some Alaska Athabaskan heritage.

Language family


Origins and group affiliations

The Athabaskan were among the first people to arrive in North America. According to scientists, they crossed a land bridge that linked Siberia and Alaska as many as forty thousand years ago. The term “Athabaskan” is commonly associated with the language family. There are the Southern Athabaskan—the Apache and Navajo—and the Northern Athabaskan in Alaska. Eleven groups of Athabaskan-language speakers now live in the interior of Alaska. They are the Ahtna (also called Ahtena), Han, Holikachuk, Deg Xinag, Koyukon, Kutchin (Gwich’in), Tanacross, Tanaina (Dena’ina), Tanana, Upper Tanana, and Upper Kuskokwim peoples.

TheAlaskan Athabaskan people have lived for centuries in the vast, awe-inspiring, and sometimes forbidding wilderness of rolling, ice-covered hills and evergreen forests of the Subarctic region. Short summers of twenty-four-hour sunlit days are followed by long, often brutal winters with heavy snowfalls. The people share a feeling of kinship with the animals on which they once depended for existence. Their relations with the U.S. government have been unusual compared to those of many Native Americans because they were not torn from their homelands and forced onto reservations. Living in remote locations where roads are few, these hardy people retained many of their old ways, while adopting useful elements of modern culture.


Explorers unwelcome

Shortly after 500, Athabaskan speakers split into three major divisions: the Alaskan, who remained in the cold northwest; and the Plains and Southwestern branches, who moved south and east. Athabaskan became the most widespread language family in North America. The Alaskan Athabaskan settled in an area to the east of their current territory, but were pushed out by the Tlingit (see entry) in prehistoric times. In their new territory they battled neighboring Inuit (see entry) and won, laying claim to the subarctic interior of Alaska.

The Alaskan Athabaskan pursued a nomadic (wandering) existence based mostly on hunting until the arrival of whites in the late 1700s. Because of the vast area in which they lived, the various groups met white people at different times. Some had already heard how Russian fur traders were enslaving the Eyak people of Prince William Sound, Alaska, forcing them to hunt and trap for Russian gain. Even though some groups did not see their first white men until well into the 1800s, they spoke of a new race of people who would come, kill the Natives, and take away their hunting grounds.

The Russians, British, and Americans appreciated the high-quality furs available throughout Alaska, and hastened to establish trading posts. Conflicts arose. On four separate occasions, Russian explorers were massacred during expeditions within Alaskan Athabaskan territory. In 1796 and 1818 three different Russian exploring teams were killed by the Ahtna and neighboring tribes as they attempted to locate the source of the Copper River. In 1847 another group met the same fate. One early explorer wrote about the Tanana: “They are always opposed to any exploration of their country.”

Those whites who established relations among the Alaskan Athabaskan fell victim to their wars with other tribes—wars in which the Athabaskan sought revenge for trespassing or wars that occurred because a group was suspicious of and hostile to anyone who was different. In 1851 a group of Koyukon descended upon the town of Nulato, killing the Native inhabitants as well as the Russian traders in residence. The unfriendly reputation of the Alaskan Athabaskan, combined with the unwelcoming nature of their territory, kept white immigration to a minimum during this period.

Important Dates

1769–83: Samuel Hearne and Alexander Mackenzie are the first explorers to penetrate Alaskan Athabaskan territory. They are looking for furs and a route to the Pacific Ocean. Russian fur traders are not far behind.

1818–19: Two separate Russian expeditions are massacred by the Ahtna while exploring the Copper River.

1896: Discovery of gold brings hordes of miners and settlers to Alaska.

1962: The Tanana Chiefs Conference is formed to pursue land claims for the Alaskan Athabaskan people.

1971: Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act is passed, awarding 40 million acres of land and more than $960 million to Alaskan Natives.

Missionaries and miners

The discovery of gold in 1896 in Yukon Territory in northwest Canada, just above the Alaska border, began the ten-year Klondike Gold Rush, changing the Native way of life in Alaska forever. For the first time since the United States bought Alaska from the Russians in 1867, Americans saw Alaska as a valuable addition to American territory. The stampede for gold between 1898 and 1900 brought thousands of whites through Alaskan Athabaskan territory. The Natives had little interest in gold, but watched as their lands were taken over by whites, who introduced alcohol and harmful hunting practices to the region (like hunting for trophy heads, not food). This created a feeling of mistrust between Alaskan Natives and whites that persists today.

Christian missionaries coming into Alaska at the same time also changed Native life. Settlers and priests demanded conformity to white culture, so Native languages, ceremonies, and healing rites were often abandoned. Still, some Alaskan Athabaskans were protected from efforts to change their culture by the size of Alaska and their remote locations. Some did not come into any regular contact with whites until World War II (1939–45; a war in which Great Britain, France, the United States, and their allies defeated Germany, Italy, and Japan), when the U.S. military built the Alaska Highway (which opened up the territory for later settlement), established air strips for landing planes, and stationed troops there.

Natives organize against oppression

Throughout the early 1900s major projects were planned on or near Native Alaskan lands, often without consulting the people. Natives protested by forming of the Alaskan Native Brotherhood in 1912. It was not until 1962, however, that the Alaskan Athabaskan established their own organization, called the Tanana Chiefs Conference, to address land issues. Land rights had become increasingly important for the Alaskan Athabaskan as whites fished, hunted, and trapped wherever they wished throughout Native territory. The issue came to a head when an oil pipeline was proposed across Native lands. The Tanana Chiefs Conference and other Alaskan Native organizations won a victory when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was passed in 1971.

The ANSCA awarded the Natives 40 million acres of land and more than $960 million in return for their rights to the rest of Alaska. The ANCSA also resulted in the formation of twelve regional corporations in Alaska to oversee economic development and land use. A path was cleared for the construction of the pipeline, and millions of acres were set aside for parks and wilderness areas. Still, hunting rights remain a problem. The Natives object to white trophy hunters who kill moose for the antlers and allow the meat to rot. Furthermore, as sports hunters use modern technology to track their game, Alaskan Athabaskan hunters using ancient hunting techniques cannot compete.


The Alaskan Athabaskan lived a life in close harmony with nature. Their religious beliefs were based on their relationship with the supernatural spirits in plants, animals, and natural phenomena. The spirit world included both well-meaning and evil characters who had to be kept happy with songs, dances, and charms. One of the most feared spirits among the Alaskan Athabaskan was Nakhani, or the “Bush Indian.” In the summer the Nakhani loitered around the camps at night, waiting to steal children and attack hunters.

Probably the most important aspect of their religion was the connection they had with the animals on which they depended for their very existence. The Athabaskan considered animals equal to them and believed people would be reborn after death as animals.

In the 1800s Russian Orthodox missionaries reached the Alaskan Athabaskans, but their numbers were few and the territory they had to cover was vast. Sometimes their only contact was brief; they came to a village and baptized everyone in it at the same time, then moved on. The Natives did not object, and may even have thought the ritual was part of the trading process

Some Russian missionaries remained after the sale of Alaska, and their influence increased and can still be seen in Alaska. The Russians were followed by Protestant, Episcopalian, and Catholic missionaries. They helped the Natives in their fight to keep their land, but discouraged many Native rituals. The missionaries disapproved of the gift-giving ceremonies called potlatches, and during the 1880s the government banned them. Anyone who participated in a potlatch could be imprisoned. The Natives had to hold their ceremonies secretly until the law was changed in 1951. Because the ritual was held in secret for so long, most potlatches today are not the lengthy and involved affairs of the past, but have been shortened to a single day or an evening. (See “Ceremonies, potlatches, and games.”) By the mid-2000s nearly all Alaskan Athabaskans professed to be Christians.


The term “Athabaskan” refers to a language family spoken by the Southern Athabaskan—Apache and Navajo (see entries)—and the Northern Athabaskan in Alaska. Generally the term is used to refer to the Athabaskan speakers of Alaska.

In the early twenty-first century eleven different Alaskan Athabaskan languages were spoken. Although figures vary from group to group, it is estimated that about 21 percent of Alaskan Athabaskan peoples still speak their Native language. Borrowing from other languages has occurred throughout Alaska, where a mix of Inuit, Russian, and Athabaskan people continue live side by side.

Alaska Athabaskan Words

Each of the groups has their own language and the words are quite different. The numbers from one to five are shown below in three of the ten languages.

Ahtna Numbers

  • Ts’ełk’ey … “one”
  • Nadaeggi … “two”
  • Taaggi ….“three”
  • Dunghi … “four”
  • Kwulai’ … “five”

Gwich’in Numbers

  • Ihłak … “one”
  • Neekaii … “two”
  • Tik … “three”
  • Dàang … “four”
  • Ihłokwinlì’ … “five”

Koyukon Numbers

  • K’eeł … “one”
  • Neteekk’ee … “two”
  • Tokk’ee … “three”
  • Denk’ee … “four”
  • K’eełts’ednaale … “five”


Before Europeans came to their lands, Athabaskan leaders were only needed when several families came together and formed bands, usually to hunt and gather. Then they chose the person with the qualities best suited for a particular task to be their leade,r or “boss”. When the band broke up, the leadership position ended.

A man who wished to be a leader held frequent potlatches (gift-giving ceremonies). This was the major way to gain the respect of his own and neighboring groups. After increased contact with whites, the leader’s role expanded. He became the middleman between the Natives and white traders. By 1906 Americans had introduced the concept of elected chiefs and village councils to the Athabaskans.

This system of government—elected chiefs and tribal councils—remains in place, but Native villages were made “corporations” with the 1971 passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). The act placed twelve large regional corporations in charge of the economic development and land use of the many villages, which also incorporated. Americans assumed that profit-making corporations would improve the lives of Alaskan Natives, but this manner of governing conflicted strongly with Native traditions. Disagreement arose among the corporations, the traditional village leaders, and the state of Alaska. The state wanted Native lands developed in the usual way of American cities, but the Alaska Athabaskan want to use it in ways more in keeping with their traditions. Some Natives worked to get land ownership transferred from the corporations to the traditional tribal governments.

Population of Alaskan Athabaskans: 2000 Census

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 14,700 people identified themselves as Alaskan Athabaskans. Some identified themselves more specifically as follows:

Population of Alaskan Athabaskans: 2000 Census
Alaskan Athabaskan8,218
Allakaket Village265
Fort Yukon122
Holy Cross122
Huslia Village285
Koyukuk Village224
Minto Village215
Nondalton Village208
Nulato Village400
Shageluk Village151
Tanacross Village119
Venetie Village404

“2000 Census of Population and Housing. Matrix 7: American Indian and Alaskan Native summary file.” Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Data User Services Division, American FactFinder, 2004.


Since prehistoric times Athabaskan economy has been based on hunting. During the period of fur trading with the Russians, a money-based economy developed, and it became firmly established during the Klondike Gold Rush. Great profits were made by supplying meat, furs, and labor to whites. The Athabaskan people developed a liking for the tobacco, tea, and other luxuries they bought from whites, and soon they looked upon these as necessities. Guns made their hunting much easier. As they came to depend on manufactured goods, they gave up migrating in small groups and settled down in villages near trading posts. Some continued old practices in a new way: they left for fish camps each summer, but used the villages as a winter base while they trapped animals. As they killed more and more caribou with rifles, caribou herds decreased. Overhunting reduced the fur supply, and hunting became an occupation only for the most skilled and efficient.

Twentieth-century economy

With American troops stationed in Alaska during World War II, the Natives’ wage economy boomed as they helped supply military installations with food. A decline set in after the war when the posts closed down and the soldiers left.

In the twentieth century Alaskan Athabaskan economy depended on working for wages, although some people still trapped, hunted, and fished for part of the year. Some Native men left their villages to work as laborers at white-owned fish canneries and mines. Since the 1960s many have been employed as summer forest firefighters for the U.S. Department of the Interior. As of 2007 the major employers in the region were the mining, fishing, lumbering, and oil industries, but the best jobs went to educated workers from outside the state. The majority of jobs available to the Natives were at the lower-paying levels.

The Alaskan Athabaskan are striving for economic independence. With the award money they received under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, they have established Native-run businesses that are prospering. For example, Ahtna, Inc., a regional corporation, engages in construction work, oil pipeline maintenance, and other profitable ventures. Still, in some Athabaskan communities many people are unemployed or underemployed, and many families depend on wage labor supplemented by government welfare and food stamps to survive. Others, like the Telida (Upper Kuskowim) and Takotna (Ingalik), who live in the traditional manner and depend mainly on subsistence activities for survival, have an unemployment rate of zero percent.

Daily life


Athabaskan families were made up of a mother, father, their children, and grandparents. Some households contained two families who shared tasks, and winter villages might consist of five households. Athabaskans spent almost all their time preparing to hunt, hunting, then drying and processing the products of a successful hunt. Famine was a constant threat, and the only way to survive was to be prepared. The people were generous in good times and bad, sharing what they had with others.


For Athabaskans childhood was short, and they believed it should be filled with freedom and joy because adult life would be hard. Children were rarely spanked and heard few harsh words. Childhood ended at puberty when boys and girls were kept apart from one another in special huts for at least a year and learned from their elders all the skills they needed to know to survive. Afterwards, they were ready to marry.

Christian missionaries first introduced formal, Western-style schooling in the 1800s. They established boarding schools, which allowed them more control over childrens’ lives. They discouraged children from speaking their Native language, causing tension when the children returned to their families. Some families kept their children at home, but in the 1930s the government declared that all children had to attend schools. This split up families because mothers lived with their children near the schools, while the men departed to hunt. Some young men dropped out of school during hunting season.

In spite of the difficulties literacy (the ability to read and write) increased, along with an awareness of and involvement in the outside world. Today more and more Alaska Natives are attending college.


Summer dwellings were rectangular bark houses that were easy to set up and offered protection from the rain. During the spring and fall hunting seasons the Alaskan Athabaskans constructed skin-covered tepees or brush lean-tos set up face to face, a structure known as the double lean-to. After the Europeans came the people began to use canvas instead of skins for tepees.

Winter houses varied from wooden log cabins to round buildings covered with hide and sunk partly underground. Smoke houses and underground bark- and earth-covered sheds that served as freezers were also typical. Common to all Alaskan Athabaskan was a specially built house for the potlatch ceremony.

As their lifestyles changed and more Natives lived year-round near trading posts, permanent log cabins became the preferred architectural style.


The harsh climate and widely scattered food resources required almost constant migration. Fruits and vegetables were scarce or non-existent, and the coming of cranberry, blueberry, and salmonberry seasons caused much rejoicing. The main staple in the Alaskan Athabaskan diet was caribou, supplemented by moose and mountain goat when they were available.

A delicacy among the Alaskan Athabaskan was roasted young caribou antler. The antler was cooked over the fire and the charred velvet peeled back to reveal a tender, tasty inside. Small game, including rabbit, ground squirrel, and porcupine, provided additional variety.

Fishing, especially for salmon and whitefish, was of secondary importance. It became more essential when sled dogs were introduced; they were fed fish. White traders introduced the Alaskan Athabaskan to tea, alcohol, and tobacco, three products now in widespread use.

Bone Grease

Gwitchin cook Dorothy Frost, recommends serving this dish as a condiment with dried or boiled meat. She says it “is a delectable dish to share with friends and special guests.”

  • Caribou bones from arm or ham
  • Ice or snow

Gather the necessary tools, large flat rock, small axe, clean cloth and your large enamel pot. Start a roaring hot fire in your wood stove or use a cook top range on high heat. This may take a few hours (2 to 3 hours) not including the time it takes to pound the bones.

Step 1: Gather the caribou bones. Break into manageable pieces. (Important note: remove the round joint bone that attaches the ham bone to the rump bone, otherwise it will soak up the grease)

Step 2: On a clean cloth, pound the bones to small pieces no larger than 5 inches.

Step 3: Place all bones in a heavy duty enamel pot, add 2 inches of water and bring to a rapid boil.

Step 4: Slowly add either ice or snow and bring back to a rapid boil, repeat this process until the pot is full and grease begins to rise to the top. Boil 2–3 hours.

Step 5: Spoon out grease carefully and filter through a cheese cloth to ensure all small bits of bone are filtered out.

Step 6: Cool off.

Frost, Dorothy. The Gwitchin Kitchen: Old Crow Recipes. (accessed on July 26, 2007).


In the warmer months the Alaskan Athabaskan traveled by boat or raft because the spring thaw left large amounts of standing water over the landscape. Winter travel was by snowshoe, with sleds and toboggans to carry heavy loads.

In the mid-2000s, four-fifths of Alaska could not be reached by roads and was seldom visited. Yet Alaska Natives still lived there. In addition to the old ways of getting around, they also used snowmobiles, airplanes, and boats powered by motors.

Clothing and adornment

Any differences in clothing among the Alaskan Athabaskan groups were in the decorative details. Caribou was the skin of choice for clothing. In the winter tanned hides with the hair left on were worn as capes. Summer capes were similar, but the hair was removed. Winter clothing was bulky to protect against the elements: rabbit, sheep, and deerskin robes were worn over fringed, hooded shirts and pants with moccasins attached. They attached mittens to a string that hung around the neck.

The Alaskan Athabaskan were accomplished embroiderers, and used quills, beads, and colored threads to brighten their wardrobes. Face painting, tattooing, ear and nose piercing, and feather adornments were popular, as were necklaces and hair ornaments made of teeth, claws, stones, ivory, and bone.

Healing practices

The Athabaskan believed that supernatural spirits bestowed power upon men and women who became healers, or shamans (pronounced SHAH-munz or SHAY-munz). Healing power came to shamans in dreams and visions, when the spirit taught the dreamer the songs and dances that would help cure sicknesses. Shamans sang the songs and performed the dances over a patient while sucking, massaging, or blowing on the afflicted area.

Experts who were not shamans also used plants for curing. These included potions of cottonwood for curing colds, juniper berries for internal ailments, and spruce needles for stomachaches. Blood-letting—the removing of blood from a vein—and daily baths in a sweat house were also common practices.

Christian missionaries discouraged belief in shamans, and by the 1930s few shamans would admit to their skills. White people brought new diseases and alcoholic beverages to Alaska Natives. By the 1950s tuberculosis, an infectious lung disease, had become widespread. The U.S. government responded to the problem by building modern hospitals in Native villages and by introducing better health and dental care practices. Contemporary health problems that plague the Alaskan Athabaskan people include extremely high rates of teen suicide and alcoholism.

Never Judge a Person by the Cloths [Clothes] They Wear

This is a true story from the Vuntut Gwitchin. It happened a long time ago at Rampart House, Yukon.

One day all the men in the camp were getting ready to go out on the land, it was a bright sunny day. They did not need much to carry for their trip so they left their caribou pants hanging on willows, in the breeze. This was done intentionally for the young women in the camp were to pick their future husbands.

As the young men set off on their trip, the young women set out after the best pants they could find, thinking that the best dressed pants is from a young man who takes care of his cloths well.

One of the young women was too late to choose and was disappointed to only find one pair of ragged, torn up knee pants. Assuming that this came from a young man who didn’t look after himself very well. She took the pants home, feeling very sad.

Later that evening, the young men returned home from their trip. The men had to go around to each campsite looking for their pants and to see who their future bride would be. One of the young men was said to be a great leader one day because of his skills in leading his peers. He went to every campsite in the camp but did not find his pants until he noticed a camp far from the rest. He walked over to the camp and found a Grandmother and her young granddaughter inside the tent, both were sewing boots for the coming season of Fall. The young man asked if the young girl had chosen any of the pants hanging on the willows? She said, “Yes.”

From that time, the couple were married and the young women, who thought she had chosen a lazy man, chose the best worker of the camp.

So the lesson in this story is to never judge a person by what they wear.

Kassi, Tracey. “Old Crow: Some of the Vuntut Gwitchin Legends.” Old Crow Yukon. (accessed on July 26, 2007).



Marriages were arranged by the parents. A girl was considered ready to marry soon after she reached puberty, and a slightly older husband was chosen. Preference was given to young men who had demonstrated hunting skills. The couple usually moved into the home of the bride’s family. For a year or two the young man worked for his in-laws before setting up his own home. By then he had mastered two hunting territories—those of his family and of his wife’s family; this was useful knowledge during lean times.

The partner system

Men chose male partners to be their close friends for life. The two agreed to help each other when help was needed, to offer hospitality to one another, and to always respect one another.

Hunting rituals

In keeping with their belief that animals had souls, Alaskan Athabaskan hunters observed many prohibitions, such as never killing a dog, wolf, or raven. Ravens were spared because they might be the spirits of dead people; killing them would bring bad luck in hunting. Hunters carried medicine bags that contained lucky objects such as animals’ teeth and claws. If a woman touched his medicine bag, a hunter would lose his power.

Tom Kizzia, a newspaper reporter who spent two years visiting remote areas of Alaska and interviewing the people he encountered, wrote a book in which he described how early Native Alaskans killed a bear using only a spear. They would “walk right up to the bear, stare him in the eye, let him know you’re going to kill him. Then show a sudden flash of fear, to make the bear drop his guard, and that’s when you make your thrust. Hunters wrapped leather around the spear handle at a bear’s arm’s length from the point, so they would know not to let their hand slip too close.”

Ceremonies, potlatches, and games

Winter was the time for celebrating, and there was much feasting, dancing, singing, reciting of myths, and speech making; all of this activity helped groups maintain contact with other groups. Since the coming of Christian missionaries, these winter festivities have been joined to the Christmas celebration.

Two major festivities still held by Alaskan Athabaskans are the potlatch and the stick dance. Both are week-long, gift-giving ceremonies that honor the dead. In the past the Alaskan Athabaskan potlatch might also be held to celebrate a girl’s reaching puberty or to call attention to a man’s wealth. During the ceremony, tribal members perform their spirit songs and dances, feast, and receive the plentiful gifts distributed by the hosts.

The stick dance is held in March and is hosted by a widow to honor her dead husband. Men carry a fifteen-foot-long pole into the village hall on the fifth evening of the ceremony, and women decorate it with ribbons and furs. Thirteen dances are held with the stick as a focal point. There is much feasting and distributing of gifts. Sometimes the event takes years of planning and saving.

The Athabaskan people were extremely fond of games, especially a ball game using animal bladders that were either inflated or stuffed with grass. In modern times softball is popular, and organized teams often travel by boat to compete with rival teams.

Death and burial

Russian Orthodox missionaries introduced the concept of burying the dead, instead of cremating or exposing dead bodies to the elements as the Athabaskan had done before. Funerals were usually arranged by old men of another family group, who prepared the body while younger men dug the grave. They were thanked for their services at a potlatch and were given gifts of guns, blankets, eagle feathers, and digging tools. The Athabaskan believed that the life spirit left the dead body during the potlatch feast.

Current tribal issues

In modern times the tribe has problems with alcoholism, over-dependence on government welfare payments for survival, and hunting rights issues. Trying to solve their common problems has unified the people, who now call themselves the Dene Nation.

Other issues of concern for the Athabaskan are the sale, by the state of Alaska, of surrounding lands for development and hunting rights.

Notable people

Velma Wallis (1960–) is an Athabaskan writer who has written several stories about her people’s struggle to survive in a harsh environment. Among her works are Bird Girl and the Man Who Followed the Sun: An Athabaskan Indian Legend from Alaska (1996) and Two Old Women: An Alaskan Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival (1994), which tells the shocking, but uplifting, story of two elderly women abandoned by their starving tribe.

Moses Cruikshank (1906–2006) was an Athabaskan storyteller whose stories conveyed moral messages and shared personal experiences of his life and family. His book The life I’ve been living was published in 1986.

Corral, Roy, and Will Mayo. Alaska Native Ways: What the Elders Have Taught Us. Portland, OR: Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company, 2002.

Griese, Arnold A. Anna’s Athabaskan Summer. Boyds Mills Press, 1997.

Hoshino, Michio. Hoshino’s Alaska. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2007.

Kizzia, Tom. The Wake of the Unseen Object: Among the Native Cultures of Bush Alaska.Holt, 1991.

Salisbury, Gay, and Laney Salisbury. The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic. New York: Norton, 2003.

Solomon, Madeline. Koyukon Athabaskan Songs. Homer, AK: Wizard Works, 2003.

Tenenbaum, Joan M., and Mary Jane McGary, eds. Denaina Sukdua: Traditional Stories of the Tanaina Athabaskans. Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center, 2006.

Thomas, Kenny, Sr. Crow Is My Boss: The Oral Life History of a Tanacross Athabaskan Elder. Craig Mishler, ed. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2005.

“Athabaskan (Na- Dene) Language Family.” Native Languages of the Americas: Preserving and Promoting Indigenous American Indian Languages. (accessed on July 26, 2007).

“Alaska Native Language Center.” University of Alaska Fairbanks. (accessed on July 26, 2007).

“Athabascan Music and Gwich’in Fiddling.” Fiddle Chicks. (accessed on July 26, 2007).

“Athabascan Winter Studies: The Dene’ Indigenous People of Interior.” Alaska NativeKnowledge Network. (accessed on July 26, 2007).

“FAQ Alaska.” Statewide Library Electronic Doorway. (accessed on July 26, 2007).

Gwich’in Tribal Council. (accessed on July 26, 2007).

Old Crow Yukon: Home of the Vunut Gwitchin First Nation. (accessed on July 26, 2007).

Gordon L. Pullar, Director, Department of Alaska Native and Rural Development College of Rural and Community Development, UAF, Anchorage, Alaska

Laurie Edwards

Brian Wescott (Athabaskan/Yup’ik)

Laurie Edwards