How do systems of transportation, health care, law enforcement, governance, economics, and education for rural Alaska affect the sustainability of remote Alaskan villages?
Under Nushagak Bluff and the shadow of pandemic in Alaska literature: Review of Mia C. Heavener’s debut novel
Seagulls swoop and dive, crying in the salty air. The waves of Nushagak Bay crash on sandbars and rocky shores. Machines rattle the warehouses on the cannery side of the village “where the beach flattened and the boardwalks grew tall.” So many sounds; so many stories. Yet as I page through Mia Heavener’s new novel Under Nushagak Bluff under the long shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the novel’s subtle and steady investigation of silence that most captivates me.
From Captains on the Arctic seas, to military highway engineers, to attorneys and legislators, African Americans in Alaska came early in the history of the territory and helped develop the state as we recognize it today. Black whalers were some of the first people from the east coast to see Alaska, starting in the early 1840s . . .
Water flows over and through the pebbles on the cover of Mostly Water: Reflections Rural and North. Water connects. Mary Odden, a long-time resident of rural Alaska, has graced us with this collection of essays written over the course of her many years in various regions of rural Alaska. Built upon each other with love, these anecdotes articulate connections between people, animals, land, sky, water, music, and memory. It’s an intimate book, and not a skimmable one. Nuggets of humor and irony randomly appear like brown sugar in the most unexpected places, and you won’t want to miss them.
Rob McCue’s One Water is a refreshingly interior account, not only because the first person narrator reports from inside the action—often the interior of the city cab he drives in half the stories—but also in the sense of “interior” Alaska, with Fairbanks as its hub and “big village.” . . . It’s a feisty guy narrative from the underserved center of the state that quickly surprises you with its inclusiveness. You never know . . .
Compiled and edited by granddaughter Eileen Norbert, Menadelook: An Inupiat Teacher’s Photographs of Alaska Village Life, 1907-1932 maps cultural transition through a man who bridged two worlds in the early 20th century. Norbert succeeds in demonstrating the importance of self-representation of indigenous culture in anthropology . . .
On a bright winter day in February, in a sunny room above the University of Alaska Bookstore in Anchorage, author Chantelle Pence talked to her audience about her first book. She, and several Athabascan speakers, discussed growing up in rural Alaska. They spoke from various perspectives. They spoke with heart. And they reached our hearts. . .