“This serves as a valuable example to other researchers of the importance of the local voice in cultural studies and writings.”
—Michael Koskey, University of Alaska Fairbanks
“An essential work in understanding the region and its people.”
—William Schneider, professor emeritus, University of Alaska Fairbanks
The Upper Tanana Dene conveys the history and knowledge of Dene elders to current and future generations. Oral accounts reveal a unique and compelling perspective on a vanished way of life and offer fascinating commentary on continuity and change over the past hundred years. These narratives, along with photographs and illustrations, show the history of the region alongside a detailed portrait of the people themselves.
Many young people are leaving the villages of the upper Tanana region of east-central Alaska to live in Anchorage, Fairbanks, or outside the state and will never know a life lived from the land. In these interviews elders express concern that these young Dene are ignoring the traditions that made their ancestors disciplined and strong enough to withstand the rigors of living on the land. The old life was taxing and made demands on the body and soul, and the struggle to achieve security placed a premium on knowledge, endurance, and constant effort. Modern conveniences have made life easier, but elders believe their knowledge is still vital to the survival of future generations.
With text in both Dene and English, The Upper Tanana Dene is a link to Dene experiences, lives, and understanding of the world and is meant for those interested in Dene heritage, as well as students and scholars of cultural and ethnic studies and history.