Synopses & Reviews
As Alaska’s Native peoples confront contemporary challenges, they increasingly find strength in the traditional values and practices that have sustained their cultures for millennia. In stirring words, What the Elders Have Taught Us pays tribute to the first Alaskans and the ancient values they consider paramount. Ten essayists, one from each of Alaska’s diverse Native cultures, were asked to write about a specific value that is common to all, lessons that have been part of their oral teachings for countless generations. The resulting essays are infused with personal reflection as well as profound truths. Featuring Roy Corral’s outstanding photography, What the Elders Have Taught Us offers rare insight into the lives of Alaska’s First People—at work and play, in celebration and sorrow—living out the legacy handed down by the elders.
Live Carefully—What You Do Will Come Back to You
“It is as old as our people, the thought that your actions, good or bad, will come back to visit you. Growing up in the village, I saw early on that you got a label, a view others had of you by your response to various things, even if your intentions were something totally different from what was interpreted. A reputation can be a bonus or a hindrance, especially if you want to be taken seriously at some point. Some miscue or youthful indiscretion may stand between you and the respect you feel you’ve earned, even as you move into the role of ‘elder.’ Your choices may affect not only you, but the generations that follow.
“I come from a unique, history-filled village—Metlakatla—as a result of decisions made by my ancestors. They chose not just to move from Old Metlakatla in 1887, but thirty years earlier, they decided to listen to William Duncan, an Englishman who said he carried the word of God in a book. The choices those Tsimshian people made to leave behind their Native ways created, changed, and directed the history of our people to where it is today.”
—David Boxley, from What the Elders Have Taught Us
About the Author
Roy Corral has been a photojournalist working in Alaskan photography since 1986. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in photojournalism from the University of Alaska and worked as ALASKA magazine's photo editor for five years. He also worked as a photojournalist for Alaska Newspapers Inc., where his Alaska landscape pictures appeared in Alaska's rural newspapers—Tundra Drums, Cordova Times, Dutch Harbor Fisherman, Arctic Sounder, Seward Log, and Bristol Bay Times. His Alaska nature photography has also been published in National Geographic, Outside, Sierra, Backpacker, and Forbes, just to name a few. His extensive travels across Alaska have included visiting nearly every village and town across an area roughly one-fifth the size of the continental United States, giving him a unique understanding about the multifaceted nature of Alaska's people and places.