XXXI DANCING

A HOLIDAY in the Koyukuk has two principal attributes. It involves a general assemblage of the people of the region and it involves a dance. On Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's it involves in addition a certain amount of gorging. But as for any original significance which the holiday once possessed, that has largely disappeared.

The matter of assemblage has an importance in Wiseman out of all proportion to its moment in any of the more heavily populated regions. The diggings centering around this Koyukuk metropolis are so widely scattered, the extreme distance between Jack Rooney's hole at Big Lake and Dutch Henry's sniping on the South Fork being over seventy miles, that many men who have been in the country for over a quarter of a century have never even visited their friends' operations. Without some general congregation one would rapidly lose contact with most of one's fellowmen. But by these periodic gatherings of the citizens from all over the hills the gregarious instincts of the Koyukukers are assuaged, and this geographically scattered community becomes socially a most closely knit organization.

There were eleven major dances at the Pioneer Hall during the year I was in the Koyukuk. They occurred on each of the eight major holidays: Election Day, Thanksgiving,

-305-

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Arctic Village
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgment vii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I the Background 11
  • Geography 13
  • Climate 19
  • Iii History 29
  • Part II the People 45
  • Iv the Whites 47
  • V an Evening at the Roadhouse 57
  • Vi the Eskimos 72
  • Vii an Evening at Big Jim's 83
  • Viii Eskimo Biographies 88
  • Part III the Economic Life 99
  • Ix Labor 101
  • X Capital 117
  • Xii the Advent of the Mechanical 132
  • Xiii Food 138
  • Xiv Clothing 144
  • Xv Shelter 151
  • Xvi the Quest for Gold 156
  • Xvii Living off the Country 164
  • Xviii Financial Summary 176
  • Part IV the Communal Life 185
  • Xix Law and Law Enforcement 187
  • Xx Voluntary Communal Responsibility 198
  • Xxi Sickness and Health 204
  • Xxii the Hazardous Koyukuk 214
  • Xxiii Quarrels and Unpopularity 222
  • Xxiv Inter-Racial Relations 230
  • Xxv Children and Education 238
  • Part V the Sexual Life 247
  • Xxvi Marriage 249
  • Xxvii Promiscuity and Taboos 264
  • Xxviii Chickens 273
  • Part VI the Recreational Life 283
  • Xxix White Conversation 285
  • Xxx Eskimo Conversation 297
  • Xxxi Dancing 305
  • Xxxii the Arts 315
  • Part VII Koyukuk Philosophy 327
  • Xxxiii the History of the World 329
  • Xxxiv Medicine Men and the Supernatural 340
  • Xxxv Christianity Among the Eskimos 352
  • Xxxvi the Religion of the Whites 358
  • Xxxvii White Happiness 364
  • Conclusion 373
  • Appendix 381
  • General Index 383
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