Reading the north

The Alutiit / Sugpiat: A Catalog of the Collections of the Kunstkamera

Written and compiled by Sergey A. Korsun, edited by Yuri E. Berezking (University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks, $50)

The blurb: This book catalogs the Alutiit/Sugpiat cultural items that have been collected at the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) in St. Petersburg, Russia. Complete with pictures and captions, the book gives readers a full look at artifacts collected over 87 years.

Excerpt: "The Pacific Eskimos, the Alutiit, are the southernmost branch of the Alaskan Eskimo groups. They include the Chugach of the shores of Prince William Sound and the Kodiak Alutiit of Kodiak Island and its environs. Included among the latter are the Kodiak Alutiit of the Alaska Peninsula, the Katmais, named after their settlement of Katmai. Today all of these Pacific Eskimos are grouped under the general ethnonym "Alutiiq." They speak the "Western Alaska Yupik (Pacific Yupik)" or "Alutiiq" Dialect of Yupik, of the Eskimo branch of the Eskimo-Aleut language family. The Alutiit could understand inhabitants of Alaska who spoke other dialects of Yupik."

Seekers and Travellers: Contemporary Art of the Pacific Northwest Coast

Written by Gary Wyatt (University of Washington Press, $20.95)

The blurb: This book holds a collection of works from 36 artists from both Canada and the United States, showing a picture of the artwork and a story explaining its history and significance.

Excerpt: "Art--like language, and ceremonies--preserves deep histories that document the transforming world and record generations of people and their accomplishments. Thousands of stories tell of the natural and supernatural events that have shaped the world, and they tell that recent history has been a time of accelerated change and vanishing resources resulting in permanent losses of cultures, creatures and their habitats. The works of the thirty-six First Nations artists in this collection also show-case the traditional, the cross-cultural and the contemporary. They reveal a reverence for materials such as cedar, ebony and horn, which are disappearing and vital to the continuation of the art."

Deadly Rites

By Sean E. Thomas (Whiskey Creek Press)

The blurb: The ninth book in the Robert Sable Mystery series sends its protagonist Sergeant Robert Sable in pursuit of a serial killer who has made his mark all across the Lower 48 and is looking to come to Alaska.

Excerpt: "The phone rang loudly, pulling Sergeant Robert Sable from a deep sleep. He grabbed at the phone and slammed it down without looking at the caller ID. Then he reached over to the other side of the bed. It was cold and vacant. He realized he wasn't in Sue's house... not that she'd have been sharing his bed anyway. The phone rang again, demanding to be answered. It had to be his soon-to-be ex-wife. He turned over and folded the pillow over his ears. He'd have to change his number. As he started to drift back to sleep, his cell phone chimed in tune to "Flight of the Bumble Bee" and vibrated. He pulled himself up, ran his hand through his white thatch of hair and looked at the caller ID. It was his boss, State Trooper Captain Carl Owen."

Compiled by Chad Walker, Anchorage Daily News