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history and culture

Home  >  History and Culture  >  Art of Storytelling
The impulse to tell stories is universal to the human condition, and language is the lens through which we convey who we are. This section explores outlets for storytelling and also includes narratives and storytelling of the peoples of Alaska. Some of these stories are products of the oral tradition while others have emerged in written form.
SEEVOOKUK: Stories the Old People Told on St. Lawrence Island
Many days the men never hunt because of storm and wrong wind direction. When that happens their food gets low; even some people run out of food and begin starving. They have no stores then to get food so they just live day after day without food and finally they start to eat some of their skin ropes or pieces out of their skin houses.


Why Brown Bears Are Meaner on the Other Side of the Inlet
Brown bears appear in stories and tales throughout the ages, and Alaska Native storytelling is certainly no exception. This story, told by Kenaitze storyteller June Lindgren Gagnon, is a lesson about community, about how people need to work together.


The Origins of 'Tlingit Moon and Tide' (2 pages)
"Tlingit Moon and Tide," developed by teachers in Southeast Alaska, includes a resource guide on using Native legends and local culture and surroundings to teach science in the school.


Raven Who Went Down Along the Bull Kelp
Raven came to a certain cliff and noticed an open door. He hid from the "old woman who controls the tide" who lives in this cliff. Looking out to sea, Raven saw some bull kelp in the water and flew out to it.


Origin of the Tides - Tsimshian Legend
Again Txamsem took his raven blanket and flew over the ocean with the firebrand in his hands. He arrived at the mainland and came to another house which belonged to a very old woman, who held the tide-line in her hand.


Hunik Zoo' Means 'Good News'
This tabloid-sized newspaper contains drawings of all kinds of creatures as well as poems and writings about Alaskan events in Native languages, with translations in English, by elementary students from across Alaska.


Alaska Native Oratory Society's Annual Contest (3 pages)
Competing for $3,500 in prize money to be used toward education expenses, entrants choose from two categories in which to give their five- to ten-minute speeches: oratory and dramatic declamation.


Inside the Circle of a Story (2 pages)
As a child, Jeane Breinig liked to listen to her grandfather tell stories of a half-human, half-land otter creature, and of mysterious transformations of animals who might be human, and humans who might be animals. As an adult, she has received more Haida stories from her mother.



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