I live in California now and when I tell people I'm from Alaska, they ask if I lived in an igloo. I describe the buildings, the vast and endless scenery. I add that seven ethnic groups comprise Alaska's Native people. My mother was Koyukon Athabascan.
The Koyukon Athabascans took the name of the land where the Yukon and Koyukuk Rivers met. In historical times, that area was excellent for hunting and fishing; for camping and living.
Athabascans include the Apache and Navajo. Alaska Natives once lived in specific areas: coastal, southeastern, or along the Yukon River. Over time, those boundaries faded as tribes traded, migrated in search of food, and inter-married.
Today, Natives live in villages and small towns. Many more have moved to cities like Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks for education and job opportunities .
Families often pay a high price when they move and assimilate into the new culture -- often resulting in the loss of their own culture.
COLD RIVER SPIRITS, Whispers From A Family's Forgotten Past, is a humorous and inspirational story of a proud Alaska Native family struggling to survive in two worlds.
Sam and Louise Harper and their ten children make a soul-grinding transition into a modern white-dominated society where they face bigotry, poverty, and illness.
Yet, Louise, the Athabascan matriarch, remains in touch with centuries-old traditions of healing, honoring nature's spirits, and a belief that the spirits of all Athabascans one day will return to the waters of the Yukon River.