Make Prayers to the Raven

A Koyukon View of the Northern Forest

Richard K. Nelson

Make Prayers to the Raven
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Richard K. Nelson

308 pages | 22 halftones, 1 map | © 1983
Paper $25.00 ISBN: 9780226571638 Published June 1986
"Nelson spent a year among the Koyukon people of western Alaska, studying
their intimate relationship with animals and the land. His chronicle of
that visit represents a thorough and elegant account of the mystical
connection between Native Americans and the natural world."—Outside

"This admirable reflection on the natural history of the Koyukon River
drainage in Alaska is founded on knowledge the author gained as a student
of the Koyukon culture, indigenous to that region. He presents these
Athapascan views of the land—principally of its animals and Koyukon
relationships with those creatures—together with a measured account of his
own experiences and doubts. . . . For someone in search of a native
American expression of 'ecology' and natural history, I can think of no
better place to begin than with this work."—Barry Lopez, Orion Nature
Quarterly

"Far from being a romantic attempt to pass on the spiritual lore of Native
Americans for a quick fix by others, this is a very serious ethnographic
study of some Alaskan Indians in the Northern Forest area. . . . He has
painstakingly regarded their views of earth, sky, water, mammals and every
creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. He does admire their love of
nature and spirit. Those who see the world through his eyes using their
eyes will likely come away with new respect for the boreal forest and those
who live with it and in it, not against it."—The Christian Century

"In Make Prayers to the Raven Nelson reveals to us the Koyukon
beliefs and attitudes toward the fauna that surround them in their forested
habitat close to the lower Yukon. . . . Nelson's presentation also gives
rich insights into the Koyukon subsistence cycle through the year and into
the hardships of life in this northern region. The book is written with
both brain and heart. . . . This book represents a landmark: never before
has the integration of American Indians with their environment been so well
spelled out."—Ake Hultkrantz, Journal of Forest History
Contents
Acknowledgments
Orthography
Introduction
1. The People
2. The Watchful World
3. Earth, Air, and Sky
4. The Plants
5. Earth Animals
6. The Fishes
7. The Birds
8. The Small Mammals
9. The Predatory Mammals
10. The Large Mammals
11. Ecological Patterns and Conservation Practices
12. Principles of Koyukon World View
13. Nature and the Koyukon Tradition
Epilogue
Appendixes
1. The Study
2. The Boreal Environment
3. Koyukon Terms for Natural Entities
4. Uses for Selected Major Species
Bibliography
Index
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