'A' is for Anaktuvuk:
Teacher to the Nunamiut Eskimos

'A' is for Anaktuvuk: Teacher to the Nunamiut Eskimos
About the Book

'A' is for Anaktuvuk: Teacher to the Nunamiut Eskimos picks up where 'A' is for Alaska: Teacher to the Territory leaves off. Watch this short video clip about the book:

Needed: School teacher for Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska, located above the Arctic Circle, for nomadic tribe of approx. 65 Nunamuit Eskimos. People desire education but prior attempts of setting up school have not been successful. Until recently, people have continually migrated and are currently dependent on caribou for shelter, clothing, food, tools; minimal cash income. Qualifications:

  • familiar with the primitive living conditions in the interior of Alaska,
  • prepared to sacrifice personal comfort for the good of the school,
  • intimately acquainted with the ways of the Native people and their attitudes towards learning,
  • able to adjust to adverse living conditions without sacrificing teaching efficiency
No school building, tent or sod house available for teacherage, no roads to transport building supplies, no wood for fuel except willows, no airline service, no public services besides post office. Severe winters.


This advertisement did not actually appear in print, but was adapted from a 1961 speech presented by Mr. Gruening, territorial senator, at an Alaska senate meeting where he described the dilemma Alaskan educators faced and the determination of the Native people to obtain an education.

Mr. Gruening did say, "...the revelation of so many problems did not dampen the enthusiasm of the folks of the village (Anaktuvuk). For they persuaded Anna Bortel, who had been head teacher at Tanana School, to teach them in their church. In Miss Bortel they had found the ideal teacher, one able to comprehend their problem, one kind and sympathetic, and above all one able to adjust to all conditions that might face her." — 1961 Congressional Record-Senate, #13201 by Mr. Gruening, "A Unique American Educational Venture in Alaska's Far North"

Takes Place In

This book takes place in Tanana, AK (1957-1960) and Anaktuvuk Pass, AK (1960-1962).

Inside the Book
  • Growing into a School Teacher
  • The Trail North
  • Farther North
  • A Willow Fire, Creek Water, and Two-Holer
  • First School in Anaktuvuk Pass
  • The Lord's Day
  • A Sod House becomes a Home
  • New Ways and Old Traditions
  • Is there a Doctor in the House?
  • Timber Time
  • Grand Central Station
  • A Schoolhouse Flies
  • Life on Sod Boulevard
  • A Page in the History Books
  • Napikuk's Eskimo Crafts
  • Teacher of the Year Nomination
  • Hallopiakipen! Nakewisi?
  • Epilogue
Mural at Anaktuvuk Pass

Kevin G Smith's new mural at the school in Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska uses photos from 'A' is for Anaktuvuk: Teacher to the Nunamiut Eskimos. The mural is titled "Nunamiut Hall of ELders" and was funded by the State of Alaska's % for Art Program.