#49 Alaska

alaska pioneer state

Pioneer State

This little gem was still in circulation from a small public library as of this writing. I’m sure the kids today will find this book very useful when studying our 49th state. is The goal of this book is to give the reader a view of the “real” Alaska. There are narratives about jobs, crafts, culture and then an entire chapter on the Alaska earthquake of 1964.

The phrase in the second picture below describing the woman pictured as having “pretty, pert Eskimo features”. Not that I am an expert in the use of the word “pert”, but isn’t more a personality trait? I also want to know what particular “feature” is Eskimo. Of course this one is a weeder just based on its age. I think there have been a few significant events the 50 plus years since this was published. In addition, lumping Alaskan natives into one group is pretty awful.


Bonus note! When I looked at the list of books on the back cover, I found a reference to Canada, Young Giant of the North. Our website was only a few months old and it has been one of my personal favorites ever since. Please don’t miss the interior photos and the comments.

back cover

real alaskans women working totem women's work violent land




  1. I’ve been to Totem Bight State Park and gone inside that longhouse. It’s really cool. This seems like an OK book for 1966 and at the time a whole chapter on the 1964 earthquake probably made sense. I can see why you’d weed it in 2021, though!

  2. This should not be the only book on the shelves about Alaska; I’d say it was written from the limited white view that makes it a pioneer state: Indigenous had long long ago pioneered this area of the world and were already settled in. Indigenous Alaskans probably called it home and Our Land. The book is not really written in their voice. Here are the names of the peoples of pre-European history Alaska (according to Wikipedia): Ancient Beringian, Alaskan Athabaskans, Ahtna, Deg Hit’an, Dena’ina, Gwich’in, Hän, Holikachuk, Koyukon, Lower Tanana, Tanacross, Upper Tanana, Upper Kuskokwim (Kolchan), Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Eskimo, Iñupiat-an Inuit group, Yupik, Siberian Yupik, Yup’ik, Cup’ik, Nunivak Cup’ig, Sugpiaq ~ Alutiiq, Chugach Sugpiaq, Koniag Alutiiq, Aleut (Unangan),

    Who is Norma Spring? Not much on her, you have to infer by her relationship to her husband and his brother.

  3. Bottom of p.76: “It is plain that women are indispensable in Alaska.” That was just the boost I needed to get back to work here at the Homer (Alaska) Public Library. I’m so sorry not to know what gem follows on the next page, “They are also the…”

  4. My first dismayed thought upon seeing the cover was “It’s going to say ‘Eskimo’ a lot, isn’t it?”


    Nancy is pretty and pert, but I wouldn’t use the latter word to describe any of her features. Also, she looks almost exactly like a 100% Filipino friend of mine, so I don’t see how her features are particularly “Eskimo”, if there was such a thing.

  5. I have to admit I get a bit nostalgic when I see books like this. These were the books in our school libraries back when I was in elementary and Junior High and they were outdated and should have been weeded even back then. I wonder if the teachers made allowances when we turned in reports full of outdated information? It wasn’t our fault!
    Also, the Canada, Young Giant Of The North was one of my favorite posts here too, and a book I know I saw on our High School shelves. I wonder if the French girl still has her priest?

  6. Pg. 76: Women are there to listen to and take their direction, but only “when strong men fail(ed).”

    How come the men aren’t pretty and pert? Don’t we all want to be pretty and pert, regardless gender identity and expression? Who wants to shoulder the burden of pretty and pert all alone?

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