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Athabascan RavenAthabascans of Interior Alaska




Athabascan Ethnographies

Ackerman, Robert E., The Kenaitze People, Indian Tribal Series; Phoenix; 1975. A very readable ethnography of the Kenai branch of Tanaina Athabascans, written for the Kenai Native Association.

Allen, Lt. Henry T., Atnatanas: Natives of Copper River, Alaska Smithsonian Institute Report Extract; 1885. Re-printed by Shorey Book Store; Seattle; 1970.

Clark, Annette McFadyen, Koyukuk River Culture National Museums of Canada; Ottawa; 1974. An ethnography of the Koyukuk River (Koyukon--speaking) area of Alaska.

Fry, Alan, Come A Long Journey Doubleday Canada Ltd.; Toronto, Ontario; 1971. A story of the early trade relations between interior Athabascans and the coastal Tlingits. Although the book is fiction, it affords a good view of life and intercultural relationships of several generations ago.

Guedon, Marie-Francoise, People of Tetlin, Why are You Singing?: A Study of the Social Life of the Upper Tanana Indians National Museum of Man; Ottawa; 1974. Guedon's main focus is the social organization of the Upper Tanana Athabascans as it appeared in 1969-70 when she did her fieldwork in Alaska. Other topics covered are the subsistence cycle, life cycle, and social ceremonialism.

Hadleigh-West, Frederick, The Netsi-Kutchin: An Essay in Human Ecology University Microfilms Ann Arbor. Reprint of PhD Dissertation submitted to Louisiana State University; 1963. The author did fieldwork in Northern Alaska among the Netsi Kutchin (also called Chandalar Kutchin in some publications) with the purpose of discovering the relationship between cultural practices and the environment in which those practices took place.

Hippler, Arthur E. and Wood, John R., The Sub-Arctic Athabascans: A Selected Bibliography Institute of Social, Economic and Government Research, University of Alaska; Fairbanks; 1974, A well arranged annotated bibliography of general and cultural anthropology works on Alaskan and Canadian Athabascans. Emphasis is placed on the psychological aspect of Athabascan life as repre-sented in the publications.

Hosley, Edward H., The McGrath Ingalik Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska; Vol. 9, No. 2, May 1961.Hosley gives a brief description of present day(1960) life in Nikolai, Medfra, McGrath, and Telida. The Athabascans in this area might be, recent linguistic evidence suggests, Lower Kuskokwim rather than Ingalik speakers.

Kari, James, The Heritage of Eklutna: Mike Alex 1908-1977, Alaska Native Language Center; Fairbanks, 1978. A short biography of the traditional chief of Eklutna, Mike Alex, is followed by a fascinating list of Dena'ina (Tanaina) place names in Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula, and the Matanuska Valley.

Lantis, Margaret, ed., Ethnohistory in Southwestern Alaska and the Southern Yukon University Press of Kentucky; Lexington; 1970. Two chapters deal with Athabascan ethnohistory (history of a group based on oral tradition or historic sources): "Tanaina Ethnohistory: An Example of a Method for the Study of Cultural Change" by Joan B. Townsend and "Indian Stories About the First Whites in Northwestern America" by Catherine McClellan.

Loyens, William J., The Changing Culture of the Nulato Koyukon Indians University Microfilms; Ann Arbor. Originally published as PhD Dissertation for the University of Wisconsin; 1966. Descriptions of traditional, transitional, and modern Lower Koyukon culture are provided. Effects of the major agents of change - missionaries and government - are examined.

McKennan, Robert A., The Chandalar Kutchin Arctic Institute of North America; Montreal; 1965. This is the most extensive ethnography of the Chandalar Kutchin, a group which is today centered around Arctic Village. It was the result of a summer of field work in 1933, and reports on the culture of that time. It also makes tentative reconstructions of pre-contact cultural practices, based on historical sources and accounts of Chandalar Kutchin informants.

McKennan, Robert A., The Upper Tanana Indians Yale University Publications in Anthropology #55. Yale University; New Haven; 1959. An account of life in Upper Tanana society in 1929-1930, based on field work by the author. The Upper Tanana Indians had been little affected by white men at the time the field work took place.

Michael, Henry N., ed., Lieutenant Zagoskin's Travels in Russian America 1842-1844. University of Toronto Press; Toronto; 1967. Zagoskin investigated the Lower Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers in 1842-1844, and left this record of his travels. Much of the information is on the geography of the area, although he also provides valuable information on the culture of the Ingalik and Koyukon Athabascans and Eskimos he encountered. He also documented trading practices in the Yukon and Kuskokwim Valleys, indicating the goods and prices for goods which were traded.

National Museum of Man, Canada and the Royal Scottish Museum, The Athabaskans: Strangers of the North ,National Museum of Man; Ottowa; 1974. This is a catalogue from a travelling museum exhibit sponsored jointly by the National Museum of Man and the Royal Scottish Museum. The scholarly text is balanced by numerous beautiful photographs of Athabascan tools and art.

Nelson, Richard D., Hunters of the Northern Forest University of Chicago Press; Chicago; 1973.Nelson describes subsistence activities of Alaskan Kutchin Athabascans in great detail, based on his stays in Chalkyitsik, Huslia, and Hughes. Comparisons are made between Athabascan and Eskimo adaptation to extreme climate.

Olson, Wallace M., Minto, Alaska: Cultural and Historical Influences on Group Identity A thesis presented to the Faculty of the University of Alaska; 1968.Some of the problems of acculturation and assim-ilation, as evidenced by the Tanana Athabascans of Minto, are examined. A good pre-contact picture of life in the area is also presented.

Osgood, Cornelius, Contributions to the Ethnography of the Kutchin Human Relations Area Files Press; New Haven; 1970.This publication provides a reconstruction of 19th Century Kutchin Athabascan culture. Osgood covers the standard topics for an ethnography (environment, material culture, social organiz-ation, and belief system).

Osgood, Cornelius, The Distribution of the Northern Athapaskan Indians Human Relations Area Files Press; New Haven; 1970, First published in 1936, this short book provides information on the distribution of Alaskan and Canadian Athabascan groups, and proposes a system of dividing the Indians into linguistic groupings. All previous spellings and references to Athabascan groups are included.

Osgood, Cornelius, The Ethnography of the Tanaina Human Relations Area Files Press; New Haven; 1966. Osgood's fieldwork in Cook Inlet took place in 1931. From this work he produced this volume, a good general ethnography of the Tanaina. It deals with the material culture, the social culture and with Mythology.

Osgood, Cornelius, The Han Indians Yale University Publications in Anthropology, No. 74; New Haven; 1971. Osgood surveyed and synthesized existing ethno-graphic accounts of the Han Athabascans to provide the first unified publication about this group of Indians.

Osgood, Cornelius, Ingalik Material Culture Yale University Publications in Anthropology, No. 22. Human Relations Area Files Press; New Haven; 1970. This is a large catalogue of all phases of Ingalik material culture, from tools and weapons to ceremonial objects. Information on each object is exhaustive, and includes illustrations as well as descriptions on manufacture, use, etc. A companion volume to Ingalik Mental Culture and Ingalik Social Culture.

Osgood, Cornelius, Ingalik Mental Culture Yale University Publications in Anthropology, #56. Yale University; New Haven; 1959. The beliefs of the Ingalik Athabascans are covered in this companion volume to Ingalik Material Culture and Ingalik Social Culture. Topics covered are: the natural world, the social world, the spiritual world, and mythology.

Osgood, Cornelius, Ingalik Social Culture Yale University Publications in Anthropology, #53. Yale University; New Haven; 1958.The social aspects of the following topics are covered: village activities, family life, inter-personal relations, and individual behavior. This is a companion volume to Ingalik Material Culture and Ingalik Mental Culture.

Parsons, Elsie Clews (ed.), American Indian Life University of Nebraska Press; Lincoln; 1967. Originally published in 1922 by B. W. Huebsch, Inc. Anthropologists portray life in American Indian societies in 27 stories. Each story is written as if by a Native of the Indian group being described, and though the accounts are actually written by anthropologists, the information and action depicted are true. The stories are written for the laymen.

Of interest for this bibliography are two tales of Northern Athabascans, one of which is about a woman from Anvik, Alaska.

Pitts, Roger Steven, The Changing Settlement Patterns and Housing Types of the Upper Tanana Indians MA Thesis for University of Alaska; Fairbanks; 1972. This is an exhaustive survey of the different structures which were a part of traditional Upper Tanana culture. There are many illustrations and photographs. Changing settlement patterns, brought about most recently by the Alaska Highway, are also examined.

Pruitt, William 0., Animals of the North Harper & Row; New York; 1967. Although primarily about the animals in the sub-arctic, there is a good chapter on the Athabascan yearly subsistence cycle at approximately 8th grade reading level.

Spencer, Robert F. and Jennings, Jesse D. et. al. (editors), The Native Americans Harper & Row; New York; 1965. This is a general sourcebook on American Indians and Eskimos. It contains information on prehistory, archaeological techniques, and general ethnographies of different Native groups. One section is devoted to "Athabascans of the Western Sub-Arctic".

Sullivan, Robert J., The Ten'a Food Quest The Catholic University of America; Washington, D. C.; 1942.Sullivan reports on subsistence activities of the Ten'a (Koyukon) Athabascans, as they took place in 1936-37. He includes customs and beliefs which surrounded the various activities.

Townsend, Joan B., Ethnohistory and Culture Change of the Iliamna Tanaina University Microfilms; Ann Arbor. Originally PhD Dissertation for UCLA; 1965. This publication focuses on the culture change which has occurred in Tanaina culture since contact, as well as the persistence of some aspects of the culture.

VanStone, James W., Athabaskan Adaptations Aldine Publishing Co.; Chicago; 1974. VanStone synthesizes written accounts of Canadian and Alaskan Athabascans to provide a good, general view of subsistence activities, social institutions, and belief systems. The various Athabascan groups are divided by subsistence pattern, and good comparative analyses are given.

VanStone, James W., Ingalik Contact Ecology: An Ethno-history of the Lower-Middle Yukon, 1790-1935 Fieldiana Anthropology, Volume 71, March 29, 1979.

VanStone, James W., Historic Ingalik Settlements Along the Yukon, Innoko and Anvik Rivers, Alaska Fieldiana Anthropology, Volume 72, March 30, 1979.


Section 1 Adaptations to Basic Needs
Section 2 Athabascans
Section 3 Upper Tanana Athabascans
Section 4 The Yearly Cycle
Section 5 There's More To Culture Than Basic Needs
Section 6 Could You Survive?
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Appendix E
Appendix F



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Last modified August 17, 2006