Reading the North

Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily NewsJune 23, 2012 

Mission of Change in Southwest Alaska

By Ann Fienup-Riordan (University of Alaska Press, $34.95)

The blurb: The book describes the political, social, cultural and religious changes in Southwest Alaska, as seen through the eyes of Father Rene Astrue and Paul Dixon, non-Natives who dedicated their lives to working with the Yup'ik people. Their stories are framed by the author's analytical history of regional changes.

Excerpt: "When Fr. Rene Astruc arrived on the Yukon delta in 1956 he encountered Yup'ik people living scattered in dozens of seasonal camps and winter villages. They moved with the seasons, harvesting an array of resources that sustained them. Although poor by Western standards, people lived largely independent of the greater society of which they were a part. By the 1960s, most of these camps were deserted as people gathered in permanent villages. Although they followed the same harvesting activities, the building of schools that their children were required to attend caused many families to forego their semi-nomadic lifestyle and come together at central sites. This was the period when the villages that exist today in southwest Alaska were born. "

Remembering Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes: The Legacy of Filipino American Labor Activism

By Ron Chew (University of Washington Press, $17.95)

The blurb: Author Ron Chew profiles the lives of two slain cannery union reformers, Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes. The book also includes a history of Asian labor in the Alaska salmon canneries written by Viernes.

Excerpt: "In the 1960s and 1970s, the children of the first wave of Filipino American cannery workers grew into adolescence and began to follow their fathers to Alaska to take jobs in the canneries.

"Alaska represented a distant place that connected them to the lives of their fathers. Members of the American-born generation hoped to earn money for the summer and return home in September after a demanding season of work. Most of them were also college-bound. In many families, they were the first generation to enter this place of privilege. For Gene and Silme and others of their generation, higher education provided a sheltered milieu for analyzing the world and seeing the Alaska experience in the context of Asian American history and the lingering presence of racial prejudice and discrimination against their people."

No Frills Cooking in Southeast Alaska

By Donna J. Williams (Outskirts Press, $13.95)

The blurb: Inspired by economic hard times, this cookbook offers inexpensive and healthy recipes for the hard times.

Excerpt: "Living off the land demands responsibility by taking only what you can really use. Since our children are grown and out of the nest, we use much less from the land and sea.

"Due to allergies, we use very little shellfish. Wild asparagus and berries are plentiful and we put up (jar) some every year. We grow potatoes, carrots, and raspberries which help a lot. We pick and dry seaweed once a year, as well as collect herring eggs which we freeze. Hudson Bay tea leaves are abundant so we keep a supply on hand all year."

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