Gwich'in Athabascan Implements: History, Manufacture, and Usage According to Reverend David Salmon
By Thomas A. O'Brien (University of Alaska Fairbanks, $45)
The blurb: A long-term collaboration between anthropologist Thomas A. O'Brien and Athabascan elder David Salmon, this volume is a detailed and illustrated study of materials that are historically important to Athabascan people.
Excerpt: "There existed prescribed rules for the specific attributes and ultimate form that objects took. Rev. Salmon related that the Interior-style birch bark canoe has remained the same since its perfected origin. Other objects such as snowshoes, bows, and arrows all had prescribed forms. To attempt to break these rules could cost the deviant his or her life. According to Rev. Salmon, 'If a man breaks the rule ... the people will get rid of that man.'
"Tool making was an ongoing process and generally some small object in a state of manufacture was carried on an individual's person to work on as time and circumstance permitted. Every opportunity was used during resting periods of travel or in social time around the fire to further craft the object. When implements were completed, such as a bow, for example, the craftsman sang a song and this was thought to bring good luck to the tool."
By Douglas Devries (Tate Publishing, $11.99)
The blurb: This young adult novel about two siblings whose family has just moved to Anchorage details the conflicts that arise as the brother and sister begin to take an interest in the opposite sex.
Excerpt: "My head butting with Mariah -- that's what Dad calls it -- began the day I walked into her room, found her standing before her vanity mirror, and said, 'You where that under your T-shirt.'
"Her face became a brighter shad of red than her strawberry blonde hair as she dropped the bra into a drawer. Green eyes blazing, she turned toward me.
" 'Ethan Patrick Kelly, get out!' She emphasized her order with a punch to my stomach."
Ice Floe II: International Poetry of the Far North
Edited by Shannon Gramse and Sarah Kirk (University of Alaska Fairbanks, $20)
The blurb: This second volume collects poems by writers living in Alaska, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Iceland and beyond, with each presented in its original language and in English translation.
Excerpt: "Through the windshield of our car
"on a winding road still wet with mist
"rising from Teslin Lake, we watched
"a small stand of aspen in a clearing,
"high above the small Tlingit village,
"shimmering like liquid gold an hour
"after dawn; every leaf, every branch
"began to flow while we watched in silence
"before the road curved into shadow once
"again and we moved on toward our
"destination, oddly content, still silent."
-- Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News