A thorough academic work on matrilineal descent among Athapaskan groups.


A scholarly book investigates why Athapaskan-speaking people trace their lineage through their mothers.

The Athapaskan languages are spoken among the Indigenous people of Alaska and western Canada (specifically British Columbia and the Yukon). These people have traditionally traced their descent from their mothers as opposed to their fathers, a rare custom for hunter-gatherer societies. Allen (Lessons Learned Along the Way, 2017) suspects that this tradition has its origin in local trading practices, specifically with the Tlingit, a non-Athapaskan coastal people who also trace their descent matrilineally. The coastal Tlingit had extensive trading networks with the Athapaskan people, who tended to live farther inland. The author argues that it was advantageous for the Tlingit to extend their system of matrilineal sibs (or clan groups) to their Athapaskan trading partners, which they did by marrying Tlingit women to Athapaskan men. The custom was often characterized by matrilocality: the practice wherein husbands would leave their own groups to live with the families of their wives. Using 19th- and 20th-century ethnographic works as his source material, Allen lays out the social and economic structures of the Athapaskan people prior to widespread European interaction, illustrating how contact between diverse parties spread unique matrilineal practices across a large portion of northwest North America. This short book was written originally as Allen’s master’s thesis in 1971 and has not been augmented to make it more palatable for a general readership. The author offers little background information to give context for the work’s relevance, and the prose is rather dense and jargon-heavy: “Among the Vunta Kutchin, Balikci noticed that sibs exogamy was not rigidly enforced. He also regarded the tendjeratsia sib as a convenient way of classifying the descendants of sib endogamous marriages.” The specialized language is occasionally broken up by lovely, uncredited, full-color illustrations of Athapaskan traders, elders, dancers, and scenes of domestic life. Though not for a wide audience, Allen’s book is deliberative and well-documented, and he manages to condense a wide body of research into one cohesive argument. Those interested in the culture of Athapaskan people should enjoy this investigation into their matriliny.

A thorough academic work on matrilineal descent among Athapaskan groups.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4602-8235-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2018

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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