Alaskana 2021

Alaska History, Vol. 36, #1, Spring 2021

Alaskana is an annotated listing of recent publications on the North featured in Alaska History, the journal of the Alaska Historical Society. All titles are available through the publisher,,, or your local library, unless otherwise noted.

Compiled by Kathy Ward, Juneau Public Libraries.

Chris Allan and M. J. Kirchhoff, A Rough and Tumble Country: Juneau’s Origins as Alaska’s First Gold Mining Boomtown as Described by Eyewitnesses, 1880–1881 (Fairbanks: National Park Service, 2020) 26 pp., paper, no ISBN. The authors use primary source materials, including journals, letters, and newspaper articles, to build a portrait of the city of Juneau in its early years.

Ted R. Boatsman, Half a Bubble Off North (independently published, 2020) 201 pp., paper, $10.00, ISBN: 9798652640620. Boatsman writes about his thirty-two years serving as a pastor and raising a family in Kotlik, Emmonak, Nenana, and Fairbanks.

John B. Branson, The Dawn of Aviation around Lake Clark Pass 1927–1960, with the Diaries of Helen Beeman Denison 1943–1952 (Anchorage: Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, 2020) 292 pp., paper, $37.00, ISBN: 9780160955655. The advent of reliable planes in Alaska fueled the growth of both commercial and civilian life in Alaska as remote places became more easily accessible and were even developed specifically as fueling stops for aircraft. Located between Anchorage and Bristol Bay, the Lake Clark Pass area became a necessary stopping point as small planes carried freight and supplies between Anchorage and the burgeoning Bristol Bay commercial area.

Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse and Aldona Jonaitis, eds., Unsettling Native Art Histories on the Northwest Coast (Seattle: Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Native Art, Burke Museum, in association with University of Washington Press, 2020) 344 pp., hardcover, $34.95, ISBN: 9780295747132. This book of critical essays begins to untangle the Western view of Native “art” from the many purposes that Native design actually served pre-colonization, including showing lineage and kinship, telling stories, recounting history, and establishing an indigenous culture and worldview.

Floyd Ellen Carvey with Martha Wetzel and Fred Wetzel, eds. Soliloquy: By an Alaskan Goldminer’s Wife (independently published, 2020) 437 pp., paper, $14.95, ISBN: 9781692143350Though a young widow with a child at the age of 24, Carvey soon found a second husband, a goldminer, and she spent years in Alaska making a home for her family while moving with him from strike to strike.

Steven, J. Craig, All Present and Accounted For (Hellgate Press, 2020) 278 pp., hardcover, $$29.95, ISBN: 9781555719685. In 1972, before GPS and before reliable satellite communications or accurate weather forecasting, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis was caught in a November storm off the coast of Alaska that threatened to drive it onto a reef. Craig recounts the story of how the crew worked together to save their foundering ship and themselves.

Michael Gates, Dublin Gulch: A History of the Eagle Gold Mine (Madeira Park, BC: Lost Moose, an imprint of Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd, 2020) 240 pp., hardcover, $44.95, ISBN: 9781550179408. Though the first placer mining claims in Dublin Gulch were staked in the 1890s, it was over a century later that the area finally gave up its riches; today the area is a productive hard rock mine.

Andrei Val’terovich Grinev, Russian Colonization of Alaska: Baranov’s Era, 1799–1818, Richard L. Bland, trans. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2020) 269 pp., hardcover, $70.00, ISBN: 9781496222169. When Alexander Baranov was sent to Russian America, it marked a new era for Alaska as the Russian-American Company, headed by Baranov, consolidated authority and power over the formerly somewhat autonomous Russian settlements.

Julie Harris and Frank B. Edwards, Signposts & Promises: Canada and the Alaska Highway (Fort St. John, B.C.: North Peace Museum, 2018) 192 pp., paper, CDN $31.45, ISBN: 9781775216308. Bringing the history of the construction of the road together with the histories of the communities alongside it, the volume resulted from research done in an attempt by historians to nominate the route and sites along it for recognition by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Available by contacting the Fort St. John North Peace Museum directly.

Constance Helmericks, We Live in Alaska (Kenmore, Washington: Epicenter Press, 2019) 302 pp., paper, $20.33, ISBN: 9781941890127. Reprinted with new preface by the Helmericks’ daughter, Alaskan author Jean Aspen, this is the story of the couple’s adventure in which the newlyweds, recently transplanted from Arizona, spend the summer and fall of 1942 canoeing from Fairbanks to Bethel via the Tanana, Yukon, and Kuskokwim rivers.

Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan, People, Paths, and Places: The Frontier History of Moose Pass, Alaska (Palmer, Alaska: Ember Press, 2020) 82 pp., paper, $18.99, ISBN: 9780998688336. What started as a Moose Pass school assignment grew into a community-wide project and finally into this volume, which recounts the history of one of the Kenai Peninsula’s first towns through oral histories and stories.

Tom Kizzia, The Wake of the Unseen Object (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2020) 336 pp., paper, $21.95, ISBN: 9781602234307. For this reprinted edition of the 1991 classic, Kizzia wrote a new introduction that examines both the changes that have taken place in rural Alaska and what travelers arrive knowing in the past 30 years.

Kwanlin Dün First Nation. Kwanlin Dün: d kwndur ghày ghàkwadîndur = Our Story in Our Words (Vancouver, British Columbia: Figure 1 Publishing, 2021) 296 pp., hardcover, $49.77, ISBN: 9781773270784.  This illustrated history of the Kwanlin Dün people of the southern Yukon begins hundreds of generations ago with transcribed oral histories, traditional stories, and interpretations of archeological findings, and ends with first person accounts of the arrival of whites to the area, the Gold Rush period, the building of the Alaskan Highway, and the struggles of the First Nations for recognition by the Canadian government.

Darrell Lewis, Alaska’s Matanuska Colony (Washington: National Park Service, 2020) unpaginated, paper, available as a download or by request from the National Park Service website. The Matanuska Colony was born during the Great Depression, when hundreds of farming families were transplanted from the American mid-west to the Matanuska Valley as both an effort to alleviate poverty and a strategic move to increase the white American population of the Territory of Alaska.

K.L. Marshall, Faith and Oil (Eugene, Oregon: Resource Publications, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2020) 210 pp., paper, $26.00, ISBN: 9781725256668. For decades, there has been a real, but muted, connection between the Religious Right and Big Oil, one that has affected politics and legislation both nationally and in states such as Alaska which rely heavily on oil production for their economy.

Michael W. McCann and George I. Lovell, Union by Law: Filipino American Labor Activists, Rights Radicalism, and Racial Capitalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020) 512 pp., paper, $35.00, ISBN: 9780226679907. Following the U.S. invasion of the Philippines, Filipino nationals began working in the United States but were constrained by law and by custom to certain low-paying workplaces such as agriculture and salmon canneries. This traces decades of activism by Filipino workers working towards parity in American society.

Alexander K. Nefedkin, Warfare in the Russian Arctic: The Military History of Chukotka from the Early First Millennium to the Nineteenth Century (Bethesda , Maryland: Academica Press 2020) 438 pp., hardcover, $139.95, ISBN: 9781680531435. The Bering Strait divides Alaska from Chukotka in the Russian far east, and this history takes readers through conflicts in the area beginning in ancient times to the 19th century when open warfare ceased.

Mary Odden, Mostly Water (Pasadena, California: Boreal Books, 2020) 248 pp., paper, $16.95, ISBN: 9781597099196. A series of linked autobiographical essays about Odden’s life on the American West Coast and in villages in rural Alaska.

Hillary Olcott, Yua: Spirit of the Arctic. Highlights from the Thomas G. Fowler Collection (Munchen, Germany: Prestel Verlag, 2020) 140 pp., hardcover, $40.00, ISBN: 9783791359458. Fowler’s collection emphasizes the joining of the artistic with the utilitarian in the lives of Arctic peoples and stresses the spirit inherent in the raw materials. This book includes essays by contemporary artists and scholars on themes of art history, anthropology, and reminiscence.

Christopher Patrello, Northwest Coast and Alaska Native Art (Denver: Denver Art Museum, 2020) 100 pp., paper, $10.95, ISBN: 9781945483011. Recounts the back story of works of particular aesthetic beauty created by historic and contemporary Alaskan and Northwest Coast artists which are held in the Denver Art Museum.

Christina Reagle, Life at Fifty Below Zero: An Alaskan Memoir on Teaching and Learning (independently published, Wild Eagle, 2020) 390 pp., paper, $18.00, ISBN: 9781734502107. Reagle and her husband moved from California to teach in an Alaska village, just for a year, and experience a different life. Thirty years later, her children grown up and on their own, Reagle reflects on learning to handle a dog team, build a log cabin, and more.

Chie Sakakibara, Whale Snow: Iñupiat, Climate Change, and Multispecies Resilience in Arctic Alaska (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2020) 304 pp., hardcover, $100.00, ISBN: 9780816542154. The bowhead whale hunt, threatened by both climate change and politics, is a foundation of Iñupiat culture. Here Sakakibara relates stories from her adopted Iñupiat family that show the connections between the human and animal world in contemporary life.

Tracy Salcedo, Search and Rescue Alaska (Guilford: The Lyons Press, 2020) 208 pp., paper, $18.95, ISBN: 9781493037285. Salcedo writes about the special challenges faced by those who venture out of the comfortable confines of Alaska towns and cities, about the Alaskans trained in search and rescue operations, and about historical rescues as well as those of modern day.

John Schoen, Tongass Odyssey: Seeing the Forest Ecosystem through the Politics of Trees (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2020) 350 pp., paper, $28.95, ISBN: 9781602234260. Four decades spent advocating for the Tongass National Forest as a biologist leave Schoen well-equipped to lead readers through the political, ecological, cultural, and biological debates which founded, and continue to protect, our largest national forest.

Thomas Thornton and Madonna L. Moss, Herring and People of the North Pacific: Sustaining a Keystone Species (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2020) 276 pp., hardcover, $95.00, ISBN: 9780295748283. Herring has been in decline since the advent of the commercial market for them as fertilizer, oil, and feed in the mid-20th century. Measures to prop up the population have so far merely slowed their decline; here the authors present a compelling argument for, and path to, a genuine restoration of the species.

Carolyn Marie Watson, Diary of a Gold Miner: The Story of James Thomas Watson (independently published, Las Vegas, Nevada: Carolyn Marie Watson, 2020) 122 pp., paper, $10.01, ISBN: 9798675444120. When James Watson headed to the Klondike to make his fortune, he left his wife and five children behind, but took along a diary which he had promised his wife to keep for at least a year. This is his diary, annotated and transcribed, describing thirteen months of his life in the gold fields.

Alaska History, Vol. 36, #2, Fall 2021

Compiled by Kathy Ward, Juneau Public Libraries.

Carolyn Erskine Andrews, Faraway Island: Childhood in Kodiak, 2nd edition (Kodiak: Kodiak History Museum, 2020) 193 pp., hardcover, $35.00, no ISBN. This updated edition now opens with an introduction by Anjuli Grantham and contains new photographs. Available through the Kodiak Museum store.

Deanne Burch, Journey through Fire and Ice: Shattered Dreams Above the Arctic Circle (Gold River, California: Authority Publishing, 2021) 290 pp., paper, $19.99, ISBN: 9781949642599. Burch and her anthropologist husband moved to Kivalina in 1964, where she worked hard to be accepted by the Native women, learning how to skin and butcher the meat they ate, live without plumbing and electricity, and support her husband as he conducted research into the lives of the community members.

Ann Carlisle Carmichael, editor, Hunter: The Yukon Gold Rush Letters of Robert Hunter Fitzhugh Jr., 1897–1900 (Montgomery, AL: NewSouth Books, 2021) 138 pp., paper, $19.95, ISBN: 9781588383372. Originally published in 1999, this collection of letters from an eager gold hunter hoping to make his fortune is now available in paperback.

Brian Castner, Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2021) 288 pp., hardcover, $28.95, ISBN: 9780771018695. When gold was discovered in the Yukon in 1897, the United States was deep in one of the worst economic depressions in its history. Over 100,000 Americans dropped everything for the chance to save themselves, most of them direly unprepared for the work. Taken from first-person and contemporary accounts, this tells the stories of many of the famous and infamous names to come out of the Gold Rush.

Patrick Dean, A Window to Heaven: The Daring First Ascent of Denali, America’s Wildest Peak (New York: Pegasus Books, 2021) 336 pp., hardcover, $27.95, ISBN: 9781643136424. Episcopal priest Hudson Stuck, along with a young Koyukon man named Walter Harper, divinity student Robert Tatum, and Harry Karstens, a wilderness guide, made the first-ever ascent of Denali in 1913. This account puts Stuck, a strong supporter of Native communities, in the foreground, but emphasizes the roles played by each of the others and also gives an ethnological and historical background of the area.

Finis Dunaway, Defending the Arctic Refuge: A Photographer, an Indigenous Nation, and a Fight for Environmental Justice (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2021) 344 pp., hardcover, $32.95, ISBN: 9781469661100. Lenny Kohm, a musician-turned-photographer, first visited the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the 1980s and quickly became an ardent supporter of the area and the people who lived there, throwing himself into the battle against oil drilling in the Refuge. After creating a slide show of his photography of the refuge, Kohm traveled the nation to raise awareness of the area and its vulnerability.

Norman Alexander Easton, An Ethnohistory of the Chisana River Basin (National Park Service, 2021) 149 pp., paper, available as a downloadable PDF from the NPS, no ISBN. The traditional lands of the Dineh people of the Upper Tanana River included the Chisana River Basin, which straddles the United States/Canada border. This is a collaboration between the Northern Research Institute at Yukon College (now the Yukon University Research Centre at Yukon University), Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, and the Dineh people.

Charles O. Farciot and Willis Eugene Everett, edited by Chris Allan, A River’s Many Faces: Depictions of Life on the Yukon River by Charles O. Farciot and Willis E. Everette, 1882–1885 (Fairbanks: National Park Service, 2021) 24 pp., paper, no ISBN. Part of Allan’s Eyewitness Series, this volume looks at the ways Native communities and incoming White traders, trappers, and miners interacted along the Yukon River through drawings and photographs.

Janet Berry Hess, Digital Mapping and Indigenous America (New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2021) 252 pp., hardcover, $150.00, ISBN: 9780367272173. This collection includes essays from Native American, Alaskan Native, Indigenous Hawaiian, and First Nations researchers, writing about technological advances in mapping, and the integration of historical maps created by indigenous groups into ways of learning about current and previous communities in the Americas.

Juliana Hu Pegues, Space-time Colonialism: Alaska’s Indigenous and Asian Entanglements (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2021) 232 pp., hardcover, $95.00, ISBN: 9781469656175. The Alaska Purchase, Gold Rush, rise of salmon canneries, and World War II were four distinct economic periods in Alaska’s history. Each one created opportunities for new relationships between incoming colonizing settlers, Alaskan Natives, and Asian immigrants and readjusted existing boundaries.

Larry Johansen, The Golden Days of Baseball: The Story of Baseball Played in Frontier Alaska and the Klondike (Juneau: Rowdy Dog Media, 2020) 88 pp., hardcover, $24.00, ISBN: 9780985225056. During and after the Gold Rush, baseball teams formed in nearly every town the miners settled. Johansen documents the teams, fields, and games through photos and newspaper articles of the day.

Aldona Jonaitis, Art of the Northwest Coast, 2nd edition (Madeira Park, British Columbia: Douglas & McIntyre, 2021) 416 pp., hardcover, $99.00, ISBN: 9781771623063. The second edition of this classic contains a new chapter adding contemporary artists and discussing ongoing indigenous issues such as racism, climate change, and sovereignty.

Seth Kantner, A Thousand Trails Home: Living with Caribou (Seattle: Mountaineers Books, 2021) 320 pp., hardcover $28.95, ISBN: 9781594859700. An ode to the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, the land they have lived on for thousands of years, and the Inupiat, whose lives have been historically intertwined with both the caribou and the land.

Oksana Khomtchouk and Taras Khomtchouk, Alaska after Russia (Chicago-Kiev: KVIC, 2016) 896 pp., hardcover, $49.00, ISBN 9786176970491. This is the story of what happened after Russia sold Alaska to the United States, from the Russian point of view. Written in Ukrainian and Russian languages with a bibliography in English, Russian and Ukrainian.

Tom Lowenstein, The Structure of Days Out: With Storytellers, Hunters and Their Descendants in a Native Alaskan Community, 1973–1981 (Swindon, England: Shearsman Books, 2021) 340 pp., paper, $30.00, ISBN: 9781848617681. This is a snapshot in time of the community and residents of the town of Tikigaq, in Point Hope. Lowenstein lived off and on in Tikigaq for several years while exploring the ways that Inupiaq culture was changing and the differences in life experiences between older and younger generations.

Leslie McCartney, editor, Our whole Gwich’in way of life has changed/Gwich’in k’yuu gwiidandai’ tthak ejuk goonlih: Stories from the People of the Land (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2021) 776 pp., hardcover, $99.99, ISBN: 9781772124828. Twenty-three elders of the Gwich’in communities in Canada’s Northwest Territories are interviewed about their lives before modernization, which shaped their world views and values, and taught them the skills they needed to live well.

Christine McClure and Dennis McClure, A Different Race: World War II, the Alaska Highway, Racism and a Court Martial (Taylors, South Carolina: Little Lands End Publishing, 2021) 246 pp., paper, $14.99, ISBN: 9781735841700. This expands on the McClures’ first book, We Fought the Road, and focuses on the experience of the 97th Engineers, a Black regiment. Charged with building the northernmost end of the highway in the coldest Alaskan winter since 1917, the regiment succeeded despite minus 70 degree temperatures, inadequate clothing, bedding, and housing, and a series of increasingly incompetent and racist White commanders.

John J. Michalik, The Harriman Alaska Expedition of 1899: Scientists, Naturalists, Artists and Others Document America’s Last Frontier (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. 2021) 280 pp., paper, $49.95, ISBN: 9781476684239. For two months in 1899, a grand collection of some of America’s greatest male scientists, writers, artists, and photographers traveled Alaska’s coasts, observing and collecting specimens, but also acting as tourists. Michalik twines two threads here: the scientific, drawn from official notes of their travels; and also the personal, drawn from journals, diaries, and autobiographies of the travelers.

David L. Nicandri, Captain Cook Rediscovered: Voyaging to the Icy Latitudes (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2020) 434 pp., hardcover, $45.00, ISBN: 9780774862226. Though better known for his journeys in the South Pacific, Cook’s second and third expeditions took place in the Arctic. This re-examination of his life’s work emphasizes his contributions to northern science, and especially his work on ice pack formation in the Arctic.

Art Petersen, Promised Lands: Mollie Walsh, An Irish-American Story (Juneau: Klondike Research, 2021) 688 pp., hardcover, $52.00, ISBN: 9780981974323. Irish immigrant Mollie Walsh has had many conflicting stories told about her time in the Klondike, but here, Petersen is confident that he has pieced together her true story. In addition to recounting Walsh’s life, he examines the lives of working women of the time and also delves into a variety of sociological phenomena of the era. The book is available in print and digital editions at:

Amy Phillips-Chan, editor, Our Stories Etched in Ivory, Qulip’yugut Iksiaqtuumauat Tuugaami: The Smithsonian Collections of Engraved Drill Bows with Stories from the Arctic (Washington DC: National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution in cooperation with the Carrie M. McClain Memorial Museum, Nome, 2021) 192 pp., paper, $19.95, ISBN: 9780578906799. Illustrations of drill bows from the 19th century held in the Smithsonian, etched with scenes from daily life, are paired with contemporary stories from residents of Point Hope, Shishmaref, Kotzebue, Nome, St. Michael, and Anchorage. The volume also explores drill bow technology and materials, and includes a glossary of the engraved characters in Inupiaq and English.

Diane J. Purvis, Ragged Coast, Rugged Coves: Labor, Culture, and Politics in Southeast Alaska Canneries (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2021) 384 pp., paper, $26.95, ISBN: 9781496225887. While many accounts of the European settling of Alaska focus only on the exploitation and decimation of Native people by the incoming settlers, Purvis shows that in many cases, Natives participated equally in the success or failure of the newly established non-Native enterprises. Particularly in cannery operations, Native knowledge formed the backbone of the operations, from bringing in the catch to processing fish for smoking.

Molly Rettig, Finding True North: Firsthand Stories of the Booms that Built Modern Alaska (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2021) 201 pp., paper, $21.95, ISBN: 9781602234437. Rettig, a newcomer to Alaska, writes about the contradiction between Alaska’s image as an untrammeled, pristine land, the reality of its dependence on the extraction of natural resources for economic viability, and her surprise at discovering that resource-extraction is the reason the infrastructure is in place for her to explore her new home.

Kathy Mills Rozzini, The History of Alaska Airlines: The First Eleven Years 1932–1943 (Bellevue, Washington: self-published, 2021) 333 pp., paper, $25.00, ISBN: 9798688346916. This history shows the first crucial years in which Alaska Airlines, formed by mergers between bush pilot airline companies, was shaped by the new regulations designed to improve safety in the skies and influenced by the needs and restrictions of World War II.

Chris von Imhof, Today Alyeska, Tomorrow Zee World! How Chris von Imhof Became Mr. Hospitality (Girdwood: Edelweiss Publishing Co., 2021) 256 pp., hardcover, $30.00, ISBN: 9781578338030. From its beginnings in the late 1950s as a small local ski area to its current status as a world-class year-round destination for skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts, Girdwood’s Alyeska Resort has benefited from von Imhof’s over forty years as general manager.