“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 that offers a fascinating commentary on a holistic way of life that is as relevant today as it was generations ago. These narratives, along with photographs and illustrations, show the history of the region alongside a detailed portrait of the people themselves.
As young Dene migrate to towns and cities far from their homeland on the upper Tanana River of east central Alaska, they may never learn what it was like living from the land. In these interviews elders express concern that young Dene are becoming ignorant of the traditions that made their ancestors disciplined and strong enough to withstand the rigors of life 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.