netseh dae’ tkughit’e’ “before us it was like this”
With remarkable openness, this book explains the Alaska Native Ahtna Athabascan history and culture as shared by elders. Their narratives reveal much about their lives and times and perspectives and values. Running through their accounts is their devout relationship to the land and to each other.
Taken as a whole, Ahtna oral history is a chorus of individual voices that speak of events, people, places, values and changes that provide a unique sense of Ahtna history from the inside. On one level, their stories are about everyday life and people, on another, it is the story of remarkable resilience, often in the face of very difficult circumstances. Intimate stories are told of the unique challenges that form the backdrop to recent Ahtna history: the fur trade, the dramatic influx of non-Native Americans, the struggle for the land and the right to continue a way of life based on the customary and traditional pursuits of hunting, fishing, and gathering. The cultural significance of potlatches, amulets and songs, and divination and curing, as well as the connection between humans and animals, is revealed. What emerges is a story of a people who have persevered through time, to exist in a place and maintain a way of life that defines them.
The paperback book is supplemented with eight maps, illustrations and 150 historic photos. 9×12 inches; 224 pages.