Alaska Native History


By photographer James H. Barker The following pages present a tiny fraction of the extensive body of work (largely focused on Alaska Native peoples) created by legendary Fairbanks photographer James H. Barker. Now in his mid-80s, Barker was recently honored as the Rasmuson Foundation’s 2022 Distinguished Artist, the first photographer to receive the prestigious award. His photos, reproduced here from Always Getting Ready: Upterrlainarluta: Yup’ik Eskimo Subsistence in Southwest Alaska, are the result of 18 years spent capturing the intimate moments of the people of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to give viewers a glimpse of Native life. Over those years, Barker joined his Yup’ik friends and subjects on whale hunts and trapping trips, in steam baths, and at fishcamp. Though each image represents a single, frozen instant, Barker’s work transcends the individual moment to reveal universal beauty and connection. See more of his work at jamesbarker-photography.com. —Michelle Theall

Ceremony included Alaska Natives On Veterans Day, 2022, over 1,500 tribal members from across the United States, including Alaska Natives, participated in a dedication ceremony for the National Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The memorial, completed in 2020, is the first Washington, D.C. monument to honor the military service of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. The monument was designed by Harvey Pratt, a Marine Corps veteran and member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma who served in the Vietnam War. Pratt’s design is intended to include commonalities among tribal groups but also to respect the uniqueness of the nation’s many hundreds of Indigenous cultures. The monument consists of a large stainless-steel circle balanced on a carved stone drum. It is set in a natural area that includes wetlands, benches for gathering or quiet reflection, lances for hanging prayer flags or other mementos, and water…

Omnibus bill brought the designation The Chilkoot Trail—made famous by the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush that lured over 100,000 miners north to Skagway and the Yukon—is now a National Historic Trail. Congress has given this unique distinction to only 19 other trails, including the Oregon Trail, the Iditarod, and the Pony Express Trail. The 33-mile trail connects Dyea, near Skagway, to Lake Bennett, British Columbia. The U.S. side is within Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, where visitors can take in museum exhibits, ranger-led hikes, or the abandoned boomtown of Dyea. The trail itself is popular among day-hikers and backpackers, who can see numerous artifacts left behind by prospectors. In a statement, Angela Wetz of the National Park Service said the new designation will help the park tell the story of the gold rush and the area’s natural and cultural landscapes. The park also celebrates the Alaska Native history of…