Alaska's Secret Door

Alaska's Secret Door

by Judy Ferguson


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With original paintings on every page, Alaska's Secret Door takes the reader where most of them will never go: where the river is the only road. Through the eyes of five-year old Clint Ferguson, Alaska's Secret Door sweeps the reader via the Ferguson family canoe into the Athabascan culture of the Yukon River. Leaving behind the Tanana River and the road system, the Fergusons pass through a seemingly invisible door and discover the heart of Alaska and the salmon-based subsistence lifestyle. At Ruby, the Fergusons meet the unforgettable Mary and Paul Peters and their son, Emmitt Peters, winner and record-setter, of the 1975 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Through the Peters family, Alaska's Secret Door is a child's intimate portrayal of fish camp, smoked moose hides, Native ice cream, wind, sand and salmon. From paddlewheels to the shaman's exotic kazhem at Shageluk, Alaska's Secret Door is a child's door into Alaska's fantastic plethora.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780971604421
Publisher: Voice of Alaska Press
Publication date: 08/15/2004
Pages: 36
Product dimensions: 8.10(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Judy Ferguson, a free-lance columnist for the Anchorage Daily News, Life and Arts, Alaskana page as well as a sixteen-year freelance columnist for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner's Heartland magazine/Sunday Section, is a well-known writer to Interior Alaskans.

Educated at the University of Oklahoma and the University of California Los Angeles, she moved to Big Delta, Alaska in 1968 where she met and married her trapper husband, Reb Ferguson. For twenty-four years, they lived a remote Alaska life-style up the Tanana River accessible only by boat and dog sled, where they raised their three children.

In 1975 during the building of the Trans-Alaska pipeline, before the construction of high schools in the Bush, the Fergusons canoed the Yukon River, where they met Iditarod champion Emmitt Peters, and longtime Iditarod competitors Ken Chase, and Don Honea. Three years later, the Fergusons kayaked the Kobuk River before the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

During 1996 to 2004 when Judy began writing and traveling the state, she met elders whom she interviewed for the Anchorage Daily News: Tlingit, Tsimshian, Haida, Aleut/Unangan, Alutiiq, Yup'ik, Iñupiaq, and Athabascan, Windows of the Land.

Today, it is hard to imagine rural Alaska before telephones and television, before oil, environmentalism, empowerment, and the information highway. Life was very different. To understand these powerful changes, we listen to those who lived it; we see through their Windows to the Land.

Judy has published seven books: an eclectic mixture of literary output characterizes what Alaskans and others outside the state know of this prolific word artist. Judy is able to communicate effectively with Alaskans and elicit from them the stories of lives that built the northern frontier we see around us today. Judy's books and regular columns provide a level of detail and empathy rarely seen, and provide a startlingly clear insight into the lives of pioneer men and women of this Great Land.

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