9 Books to Read about Alaska Native Heritage

The CIRI Foundation strives to support continued living traditions through heritage publications that enhance the appreciation and understanding of Alaska Native cultures. Whether you want to celebrate Alaska Native Heritage Month, shop Small Business Saturday or take part in Giving Tuesday, these books are a perfect fit.

Alaska Native Corporations: Sakuuktugut

Alaska Native people are writing an epic story in cultural and economic development, and this book focuses on their intimate tie to the land. It explains why Native leaders and corporation shareholders struggle daily with the tension between focusing on bottom-line success and honoring traditional values and preserving cultures. “Sakuuktugut,” pronounced suh-KOOK-to-ghut, is an Inupiaq word which means “we are working incredibly hard.”

Reflections on the Alaska Native Experience

A series of 21 selections from The Anchorage Times articles, circa 1981-1984 written by Roy M. Huhndorf. Topics include self-reliance, education, Native corporations, health, subsistence, a 10-year and 20-year assessment of the implementation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 and more.

Putting Up Fish on the Kenai

A “how-to” manual for smoking and jarring one of Alaska’s most prized resources. A tribute to Rika Florence Murphy, first recognized chief of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, who lovingly passed on her precise methods to her daughter and author Hazel J. Felton. In addition to step-by-step instructions, the book includes detailed design plans for the construction of an “urban smokehouse,” providing city dwellers with a means to recreate these traditional techniques of processing salmon.

Our Stories, Our Lives

A collection of personal experiences and traditional stories told by 23 Alaska Native elders of the Cook Inlet Region in southcentral Alaska. These are firsthand accounts by elders who witnessed dramatic cultural changes in Alaska during the period of 1900-1985.

Na’eda, Our Friends

Addresses and phone numbers for the 13 Native regional corporations, 173 village corporations, 231 traditional/IRA councils, four urban corporations, six former reserves and Alaska’s only reservation, Metlakatla. Also listed are the 13 major regional nonprofits and the 13 members of the Alaska Native Education Consortium.

Alaska Scrapbook: Moments in History 1816-1998

Alaska’s unique and compelling recorded history is featured in 120 articles and historic photographs published in the Anchorage Daily News. The book includes brief articles covering a span of key events and poignant moments from 1816 to 1998. They highlight the history of the state’s indigenous peoples, as well as its many newcomers. It also celebrates the construction of important landmarks, passage of key legislation, and the anniversary of the founding of communities, corporations and organizations.

A Reference in Time, Alaska Native History Day by Day

A reference to support the history of Alaska Native people. With at least one event for every single day of the year, A Reference in Time provides a representative sample of key events in the history of Alaska’s indigenous peoples. Historical photos, as well as 12 photos to introduce each month of the year from one Athabascan family, the children of Charles and Florence Knox, are included.

A Place for Winter

The autobiography of Mr. Tiulana told against the backdrop of his early home on King Island, 35 miles of the coast off northwestern Alaska in the Bering Sea. He describes his Inupiat culture of a hunter and fisherman and the traditions of his people. He relates his views on a variety of subjects: The struggle to recover from a military-related accident, the Arctic, child-rearing, relationships, religion, war, handicaps, education, and modern times.

Growing Up Native in Alaska

A collection of personal reflections by 27 Alaska Native young professionals reflecting on what it means to be an Alaska Native and the impact of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. The book is based on interviews conducted by A.J. McClanahan, historian of Cook Inlet Region, Inc., in 1998-99.