Description

Travels Among the Dena

Exploring Alaska’s Yukon Valley

Frederica de Laguna

  • paperback not available
  • $50.00x hardcover (9780295979021) Add to Cart
  • Published: 1999
  • Subject Listing: Anthropology
    Native American Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 368 pp., 60 photos, drawings, maps
  • Series: A McLellan Book
  • Contents

“Operating on a shoestring, for this was the height of the Depression, we launched at Nenana two skiffs of our own making and unconventional design, like the most foolhardy party that ever embarked on the great river. For the next 80 days, over a distance of 1,600 miles, we fared through what was then truly a wilderness looking for ancient archaeological sites and recording our adventures and misadventures, our many disappointments and fewer lucky finds, and above all, our rewarding contacts with the Native peoples and white settlers we met along the way.”—Frederica de Laguna

This robust and engaging travel narrative re-creates a remarkable adventure in the summer of 1935, when Frederica de Laguna, then in her late 20s, led a party of three other scientists down the rivers of the middle and lower Yukon valley, making a geological and archaeological reconnaissance. De Laguna has based her story on her field notes, journals, and letters home. She augments this first-hand account with excerpts from the reports of earlier explorers and data published after her trip. The result is a fascinating and informative cross-cut of historical events along the Yukon River and its tributaries.

Travels Among the Dena chronicles the expedition from its outfitting in Seattle and the trip by steamer and railway to Fairbanks and Nenana, through an 80-day journey on skiffs down the Tanana and Yukon rivers to Holy Cross near the coast, with side trips on the Koyukuk, Khotol, and Innoko rivers, before a one-day return flight to Fairbanks with pioneer bush pilot Noel Wien. Maps illustrate the route taken downriver, and the author’s photographs capture images of the time. The resulting volume is both a delightful addition to the literature of travel adventure in Alaska and an important contribution to the discipline of anthropology.

Frederica de Laguna was professor of anthropology at Bryn Mawr College. Her many publications include Tales of the Dena: Indian Stories from the Tanana, Koyukuk, and Yukon Rivers.

Contents
List of Maps and Plans
PREFACE
A Note on Spelling Athabaskan
TO ALASKA
The Undertaking
- On the Track of the First Americans
- The Party
- Otufitting
- Meeting in Seattle
- Freight Problems
The Voyage
- The U.S. Geological Survey
- Stories About the Chandalar Kutchin
- Prince William Sound
Excurision to Fairbanks
- A Stop at Anchorage
- Matanuska Farmers
- The Alaska Range
- Fairbanks: The Campus Site and Ester Creek Placer Mine
- Hindsight
GETTING STARTED
Nenana on the Tanana River
- Our First Camp
- Building the Skiffs
The Dena and Their Neighbors
- The Early Explorers and Other Sources
- Athabaskans of the Middle and Lower Yukon Valley
- Neighboring Tribes and Distant Relatives
- The Tanana Indians in Early Reports
The Nenana Indians of 1935
- Friendly Visits
- Recording Myths and Other Lore
- A Wedding Feast and Dance
ADVENTURES ON THE LOWER TANANA
Amateur Boatment
- Last Jobs and Loading the Skiffs
- Swift Waters
- Further Adventures: an Unplanned Bath
- Titus Alexander of Baker Creek
- Telegraph and Telephone in the Wilderness
- Hot Springs Slough and Hot Baths
Harper Bend: The Murder of 1878
- Harper Bend
- Early Traders
- Schwatka's Version of the Murder
- Mercier's Version of the Murder
- McQuesten's Version of the Murder
- A Sequel to the Murder
The Mouth of the Tanana
- Nuklukayet or NukuloRoyet
- The Trading Grounds in 1867
- The End of the Trading Grounds
TANANA MISSION AND THE YUKON ABOVE
Tanana Mission and Town
- Tanana Mission
- A Little Ethnography
- A Little Archaeology
- The Yukon Above Tanana Mission
The Kutchin
- The Fort Yukon Indians, 1847-50
- The Fort Yukon Indians in 1867
Tanana Station
THE MIDDLE YUKON: TANANA MISSION TO RUBY
The Tozi
- A Vain Hunt
Trading Posts in the Tanana-Tozi Area
- Nuklukayet #3: The Old Station in the 1880s
From the Tozi to the Nowitna
- New Old Station: Mosquito Troubles
- Kalland
- The Palisades: Boneyard of the Ghosts
- The Birches: A Possible Homicide?
- Mouse Point
The Nowikakat Trading Grounds
- Zagoskin at Nowikakat, 1843
- Dall and Whymper at Nowikakat, 1867
- Nowikakat Canoes
The End of a Long Day
THE MIDDLE YUKON: RUBY TO BISHOP ROCK
Ruby
- Dago Kid Brown's Dog Ranch
- Rabbits
- The Melozi River
- Old Melozi
- Charley Knox's Mother-in-law from Nulato
Old Louden to Bishop Rock
- Fish Camps
- Old Louden
- Captain Jacobsen at Old Louden, 1882
- Big William's Camp
- The Cave-Off Cliffs
- Galena
- Bishop Rock
- Sites Near the Rock
THE KOYUKUK RIVER
Near the Mouth of the Koyukuk
- Koyukuk Station
- Ethnographic Information
- Strong Headwinds and the Young Girl's Cave
A Trip up the Koyukuk
- To Kateel
- The Site at Kateel
Early Explorations and Stories of the Koyukuk
- Zagoskin's Trip to Kateel, 1843
- Allen on the Koyukuk River, 1885
- The Wild Woman of Kateel
The Koyukuk Graveyard
- The Cemetery
- Burial Practices
Koyukuk Station to Nulato
- Terentief's Station
- The Dayton's Fish Camp
- A Visit to the Steamer
NULATO ON THE YUKON
The Modern Town
The Nulato Massacre
- The Indians Involved
- History of the Nulato Post
- Premonitions of Trouble: The Ulukuk
- Premonitions of Trouble: The Takaiaksa
- Sanctions
- The Unfortunate Lieutenant John J. Barnard, R.N.
Prelude to the Attack
- Preparations
- The Messengers to Kateel
- Reasons for the Attack
- The Role of the Shamans
The Attack
- Massacre of the Nulato Indians
- Those Who Escaped
- Attack on the Russian Post
After the Massacre
- The Relief Party
- Aftermath
Empty Coffins at Nulato
- The Death of Robert Kennicott
- About a Worm
KALTAG AND THE KHOTOL-KAIYUH, TO SHAGELUK SLOUGH
To Kaltag
- Kaltag
The Khotol River and Kaiyuh Slough
- The Kayar Region
- The Khotol River
- The Old Fish Camp
- Hrdlicka and Dixon at the Old Fish Camp
- Paul Esmailka's Place
- Above the Forks
- The Kaiyuh Country in 1865 and 1867
- Return to the Yukon
The Yukon to Shageluk Slough
- Kaltag Again
- The Yukon below Kaltag
- Stink Creek
Holikachuk Country
- Blackburn
- Black Bear River
- The Yukon below Blacburn Island
JOURNEY TO THE INNOKO RIVER
Shageluk Slough
Holikachaket
- Lucky Finds
- The Holikachuk and their Neighbors
- The Several Holikachakets
Masks and Masked Dances of Holikachaket
- The Feast or Festival of Masks
The Masks
- Individual Acts or Dances
- Related or SImilar Ceremonies
Prelude to Tragedy
Tragedy
- Airplane Crashes
- Mrs. Keating
- Death
- Cause of Death
Return to the Yukon
SHAGELUK SLOUGH TO ANVIK AND BONASILA
Anvik Rapids and Grayling
- Anvik Rapids
- Graying River
- New Grayling
- Five Dollar Bill's Place
Anvik
- Anvik Old Station and Anvik
- Reception at Anvik
- Questions of Religion
- The Anvik River
- Anvik River Site
- Anvik Point Village
- Anthropologists and Informants
- Good-bye to Anvik
Bonasila
- Old Bonasila
- The Last Camp
- New Bonasila
HOLY CROSS AND HOMEWARD BOUND
Holy Cross
- The Mission
- The Gerharts
- Plans for Going Outside
- Frank Fox's Site
- Waiting
Northern Air Transport
- Noel Wien
- Flight to Fairbanks
Fairbanks and Nenana
On the Richardson Highway
EPILOGUE
APPENDIX: Typical Specimens
SOURCES
INDEX
Reviews