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Shadows on the Koyukuk: An Alaskan Native's Life Along the River

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  531 ratings  ·  62 reviews
This book is more than one man's incredible tale of hardship and success in Alaska. It is also a tribute to the Athapaskan traditions and spiritual beliefs that enable him and his ancestors to survive. His story, simply told, is a testament to the durability of Alaska's wildlands and to the strength of the people who inhabit them. ...more
Paperback, 235 pages
Published April 1st 1993 by Alaska Northwest Books
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Sue Cumming Hi Karla. Re Shadows on the Koyukuk. I tried to contact you once before about your friends and relatives. My wife and I recently visited Galena where …moreHi Karla. Re Shadows on the Koyukuk. I tried to contact you once before about your friends and relatives. My wife and I recently visited Galena where we possibly met some of your relatives. This next bit might be sad news for you. We went to a potlatch concerned with the death of Angela Huntington. Please contact me if you would like to find your friends in Galena. Sincerely yours, Roger. (PS I'm the RC who lives in Cheltenham if there are lots of Roger Cummings on Facebook!)(less)
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Average rating 4.37  · 
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 ·  531 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is not the best written book, but buckle your seat belt, this true story is a heck of a ride. Sidney Huntington is a native Alaskan. Born in the early 20th century, he has seen the tremendous changes of modernization from the standpoint of a subsistance living aboriginal. The story of his life not only rivals the arduousness of Jack London's most bitter wilderness survival tales but also hits the peaks of business innovation more commonly pictured in the lower 48. This account is also a rev ...more
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alaska, nonfiction
I really enjoyed this memoir by Sidney Huntington, born in rural Alaska in 1915 to a Koyukon mother and white Klondike gold rusher father. In it, he shares one amazing story after another about living off the land in a very harsh climate. He lived his life with one foot firmly planted in the past, steeped in traditional native ways and tribal stories, and another in what we would recognize as today's Alaska, with most people operating within a global, cash economy.

At the end of the book, Hunting
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Having lived in Alaska for more than three years -- Interior Alaska no less -- I was embarrassed to have not read this book. Sydney Huntington is famous here, a self-made man and now elder committed to his people (Athabaskan Indians, although he is half-white) and to preserving at least some of the subsistence lifestyle, while also championing education. His fame comes only in part from his having authored, with Jim Reardon, a classic memoir of growing up in the bush amid hardship that's hard to ...more
Nov 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am not a cold weather person. I have no desire to visit Alaska. I was given this book to read because I like true stories about people over coming obstacles. At first Sidney had so many obstacles, I had a hard time reading this. However, as he recounts his time living the trapline life I felt drawn to the story. It was amazing reading how people survived in a climate that seemed hostile, yet beautiful. I have to admit a new appreciation for the area thanks to this book.
Galen Johnson
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating story of Huntington's life, mostly spend in the Koyukuk and Yukon River areas. This book is an interesting mix of cultural history of the Koyukon natives, survival stories in the most frigid and remote of locations, family memories and observations about the fish and wildlife of the Alaskan Interior and river areas. ...more
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Sidney Huntington's remarkable life growing up in the 1900s (born 1915) had me riveted from the beginning. His stories of making a life, not just surviving, but making life in a place we would call wilderness are deeply engaging. He tells his stories humbly and carefully so as not to make himself into some sort of iconic figure. To him, living and learning the ways of his Koyukukan mother and how to work and trade from his white father were, for him, naturally conducive to caring about creation. ...more
Elena Mo'orea
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is hands down my favorite piece of Alaskana. When reading it I can just hear Sidney Huntington himself telling me the stories as we are huddled in a cabin over a small wood stove. I was actually fortunate enough to meet one of his sons while I lived in Fairbanks and told him to tell his father that this book pulled me through my first winter in Fairbanks.

This story gives an excellent perspective of how life in interior Alaska changed over the past century. It also shares a very personal and
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016
I don't often read non-fiction but I am sure glad I decided to try out more this year. My girlfriend handed it to me when I asked for a non-fiction rec and I suspect now it is because this often reads like a Jack London adventure story. Sidney is beyond likeable and manages to tell stories that seem impossible in a way that leaves no doubt in the readers mind that it happened. He meanders often, includes a lot of highly specific details that are not very relevant. It is exactly like listening to ...more
Ray York
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the most interesting books I have read. It was recommended by Stan Zuray of Yukon Men.
It is of the life of Sidney Huntington as told to Jim Rearden. "It is an Alaska Native's Life Along the River"

Sidney Huntington gives you a look at Native Alaskans lives from back in the 1800's up through the late 1990's. He tells you about his life and the life of his people. He gives you a look at their lives before
automobiles and snow machines came to the Alaskans. How they provided food, shelter and
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This has got to be my favorite book about Interior Alaska. I ate this book up in 2 days, totally engrossed in Huntington's long life, full of incredible stories that rival the most creative adventure-fiction. There are wonderful observations of nature, insightful narratives of the changes experienced thru Huntington's 90+ years. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants an emotional rollercoaster and some inspirational triumphs of hardship. This is the Alaskan story that Sean Penn SHOULD h ...more
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adults/Teens
Recommended to Helen by: Patti
I really liked this book because it was written by the person who lived the story. It had great accounts of Alaskan life, much different than I expected. I really loved the story, there was a little disappointment at the end of the book when I found out he wasn't the "perfect" man he appeared to be most of the way through the book but I'd still recommend it as great reading if you like real-life adventures. ...more
Lin Toms
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that I never want to let go. I read this in about 2001 or 2002 after buying it in Alaska. It is an absolute amazing book. Men will definitely want to read it but women should enjoy it too. My husband, sons, male friends have all read it on loan. It's an amazing story of surviving in Alaska. Sidney Huntington was born in 1915 and was still alive a few years ago. Not sure now. He later became an active environmentalist in Alaska. This one is a treasure. ...more
Amy Flaherty Gorn
Aug 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
I learned SO much about traditional Native ways! So interesting to compare/contrast the Interior and river lifestyles to what I know about coastal communities. The respect of Huntington speaks for itself. Doesn't hurt that I met him and have an autographed copy! Brilliant depictions of one aspect of Alaska's very important ways. ...more
May 16, 2014 rated it liked it
I never finished this one. It was a fascinating peek into Native American life in Alaska in the early 1900s. It didn't have a driving storyline, though, since it was more of an autobiography, so it was easy for me to put down and not pick back up again. Whatever I did read, though, was interesting and memorable. ...more
Barbara Nave
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I grew up in Anchorage, AK and this book completely changed the way I think about Alaska and how much it has changed in the last ~100 years. I gave a copy of it to a friend who loves Alaska and dreams of "going off the grid", and she absolutely loved it as well (although I think she might now realize the sheer toughness of that lifestyle). Happy to keep this one on my shelf. ...more
Sep 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. It is like reading about the pioneers, but in our time, not 100 years ago. It is about his life and the joys and sorrows that are part of it. A+ ...more
Sep 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Not exactly a book I couldn't put down, but fascinating just the same, because the amazing stories are true. I have an interest in Alaska, so it was right down my alley. I also know someone who knows the author. ...more
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A neighbor gave me this book a couple of years ago, but I just discovered it in a TBR pile and pulled it out. What an amazing account of an amazing man. It is a tale of perseverance and pride in your heritage. Well worth looking this one up and giving it a read.
Maranda Burkett
Jan 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
THIS BOOK IS AWESOME!!!!!! A look back into time at Alaska back in the day... it's very captivating and action filled, I couldn't put it down. A must read! ...more
Sep 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is one of my favorites. A true adventure story about Native Alaskan life in Interior Alaska.
Oct 20, 2008 rated it liked it
It's more of a history book than a novel. Sometimes it gets really old-man-rambling-ish, but it's really interesting about growing up in Alaska. ...more
Jan 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir, alaska
Fascinating autobiography about living off the land in Alaska. Parts of this book were spellbinding as the author describes how he survived by trapping, carving out his own boats, homes, etc.
Jan 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Wanted to know so much more after finishing. The stories of his childhood will haunt me forever. On one hand brutally tragic, on the other ... enviable.
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
LOVED this book!!! What a classic about native life in beautiful Alaska long ago with dog sleds etc. (for everyone but men will esp love this one. Give it an A)
Jul 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Really fascinating book in terms of history, details, and practical information about the Athabascan/bush/subsistence lifestyle. However, it wasn't a particularly engaging book -- slow at times. ...more
Jul 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Big eye opener as to the life of early Alaskans.
Jul 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book, Sidney still repaired his nets and fishedduring the salmon runs at 94 years of age! The man is an Alaskan treasure and this book is one of the reasons why.
John Snow
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Good read. It's amazing how resilient the old time Alaskans were! ...more
Jul 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Interesting picture of life in Alaska in the early to late 20th century, but too rambling.
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting look into life in Alaska starting in 1915 and the changes that occured over the years.
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