THERE is about the Koyukuk a tremendous isolation, for it is separated by 200 miles of almost uninhabited country from the most remote outpost of the Twentieth Century world. Behind this insulating zone is a vast, lonely expanse where men are so rare and exceptional that the most ordinary individual takes on an importance impossible to conceive in the outside world. He is not just one person among millions, but one of the rare human oases in the desert of the wilderness.
Thus life takes on a dignity and value which always accompanies the rare. Every person feels that he has an important rôle in the communal life, and every person feels that all the other people are likewise significant. This is clearly manifest in the great delight which the entire community feels when one of its number who has not been seen for a long time returns to town, and the genuine sadness which accompanies the departure of any member for the Outside. "When Johnny left," said one man, "I felt terribly lonesome. For about a month I felt bad all the time. It seemed as if he'd died. I'd pass his cabin at night where I'd seen the light shining out on the snow for fifteen years and it would give me a feeling like passing through a cemetery."
There are many ways in which this interest in each other