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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide

Honoring Alaska's Indigenous Literature

Cheryl Jerabek

April 30, 2004

NAME OF BOOK: Anna'a Athabaskan Summer
AUTHOR: Arnold Griese
ILLUSTRATOR: Charles Ragins
)? No
WHAT IS THE SETTING OF THE BOOK (TIME AND PLACE)? Interior Alaska, modern times

The author, Arnold Griese, is currently a professor of children's literature at UAF.The author taught for 'several years' in a one room school in Tanana and traveled by plane to other villages where he heard tales of ancient days.

The main character is Anna, an Athabascan girl of about 8 years old. Anna travels with her family to their summer fish camp in Interior Alaska. The setting is modern times, although the book includes less modern aspects of fish camp including staying for the whole summer and working on a moose hide. The fish camp shows the family engaged in fishing as well as berry picking.

The book very nicely shows the intergenerational relationship between Anna and her grandmother. Her mother is also an important character in the book. However, Anna's father is mostly missing from the story, as he works in town and is not in fish camp for most of the summer. In modern day fish camps, even though the father might have a job in town, he would not leave the family alone at fish camp for long periods of time. The encounter with a bear while berry picking should have also been taken more seriously. The book also could have included more Athabascan words and more detail of what happens at fish camp. When the family was leaving, the process should have included loading up the winter's supply of fish.

The book does include some traditional teaching by the grandmother when discussing the respect and spirituality shown to the salmon, the raven, and other aspects of nature. It also shows Anna helping with the fishing process and provides a good self-image for children.

This book would be good to use with elementary students. When using the book in the classroom, I would suggest including a discussion of how fish camps have changed over time, and to have students discuss what they do at fish camp. The discussion could include the roles of various family members at fish camp, and the steps in preparing fish. Students could also discuss what they did over summer vacation, life cycles of salmon, berries, harvesting of subsistence foods and other seasonal activities. The book could also lead to a discussion of what their grandparents and other elders have told them about respecting nature and other traditional teaching.

The book reviews are a result of students enrolling in special topics course Ed 493 Examining Alaska Children's Literature taught by Esther A. Ilutsik in the Spring of 2004.

The book reviews are written by the students and are a reflection of their own analysis of the books and have not been altered in any way. The reviewers have given permission to share the book reviews on the HAIL website.






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Last modified August 14, 2006