Reviews of Books and Other Media
What are the outstanding works of history, art, science and literature pertinent to rural Alaska, and who are the agencies, companies, and individuals producing them?
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Civil Rights Heroine: Review of Fighter in Velvet Gloves by Annie Boochever with Roy Peratrovich Jr.
Elizabeth Peratrovich’s history-making speech before the Alaska Senate in 1945 persuaded passage of America’s first state anti-discrimination act, nearly 20 years prior to Title VII of the US Civil Rights Act. Boochever’s concise, sensitively written, historical teen non-fiction book Fighter in Velvet Gloves conveys Peratrovich’s positive can-do life attitude . . .read more
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 . . .read more
A thousand stories woven into one, Tanya Tagaq expresses the expansion of our ancestry — our heritage of the land and the trauma — through beautiful poetry. She narrates a story that we can barely say out loud as Iñuit — not because we’re not allowed to and no one will listen, but because . . .read more
Tia Wakolee has done a brave and necessary thing. She has shared her stories with the world as a step in her journey of healing. She has done this in the form of a self-published book. . . Stories of surviving childhood sexual abuse in Alaska are abundant. Until recently, however, very few of these stories . . .read more
Nearly twenty years ago, while preparing to move to remote Alaska with my first husband, my stepmother asked me “How can you even think about moving so far away from your family and other people you love?” At the time, the calculus of my love . . .read more
Wild rice is a storied and staple grain throughout the upper midwest. This anthropological work about Menominee food traditions, done by Thomas Pecore Weso, a Menominee artist and anthropologist, provides a critically important perspective to understanding American food traditions . . .read more
Compiled and edited by granddaughter Eileen Norbert, Menadelook: An Inupiat Teacher’s Photographs of Alaska Village Life, 1907-1932 maps the transition of culture in the early 20th century of 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 . . .read more
When I first moved to a small village in rural Alaska, I would hang out in the school library. A lot. I was amazed to find so many books there, in this tiny community off the road system, where the cost of shipping goods exceeded $1/pound. Old books. New books. Lots of stories by writers I knew. Lots of history about Alaska, by writers I’d never heard of. But I struggled to find books by Indigenous women . . .read more
Marino isn’t from rural Alaska, nor does she live there. But she’s spent enough of the right kind of time in the community of Shishmaref, to care deeply, and respectfully, and she brings the best of her academic skills to advocate for climate justice. With this Kigiqtaamiut ethnography, she bridges cultural gaps between realities of rural Alaska on the edge of climate change, and the churning mill of urban bureaucratic . . .read more
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. . .read more