Story Telling at Denali National Park

​DENALI, Alaska — She stands, proud and alone, at a place 16 miles into Denali National Park called Primrose Ridge. She is a small woman and her bright blue sweatshirt fits loosely below the long greying hair that tells you she is probably a grandma. Miniature carvings hang from her ears, another one from her necklace.

Her name is Linda Reid.

When she speaks, it is with clarity. When she sings, as she does briefly after greeting and educating a busload of passengers from the Star Princess, it is the sweet voice of history. She is there, or one of her people are, to give visitors a look at a family with roots deeper than many of the trees around them.

“I’m here on behalf of all native Alaskans,” she says with feeling. "The Eskimos from Barrow and Nome — they don’t want to be called Eskimos…the Klinket from the southeast, Sitka and Juneau…the Haida from the southeast…the Athabaskan from the interior — that’s what I am and we’re related to the Navajo… and the Aliut from the south — they’re half Russian. We speak different languages but today, I speak for all of us."

Linda Reid-8Linda Reid goes on to tell her story, and everybody has one.

“Four generations ago, one person came up here and made it…or I wouldn’t be here,” she says softly.

That would be her great-grandfather. He came north in the 19th century, became chief of the Arrowhead tribe and founded Minto, on the Tanana River. His son (her grandfather) traded with the Hudson’s Bay Company and taught his family members they had three seasons to get food off the land so they could make it through the winter.

She pauses, and smiles.

“Later in life, he was deaf and my Grandma was blind. When the phone would ring she’d say ‘Answer that noise’ so he did, and when she asked who it was he would say ‘Nobody home.’”

Her parents raised 10 children in a one-room log home. Her father was chief, council member and store manager. He hunted for meat, fished, picked berries, mushed dogs and built sleds and snowshoes. All were skills he passed along.

“He died five years ago,” she says. “They were together for 63 years. She made a potlach for him last fall and four months later she died at 84.”

This is her interpretation of her culture. She passes it along now every winter, as a volunteer teacher, passing it along to the little ones.

“And,” she says with a big grin, “I am the proud Grandma of ten little Indians.”

Before the Princess Cruisetours visitors leave, she sings a short song from her great-grandfather’s era and passes along a few words of Athabaskan.

“Anee-bah-see-ghana.”

Thank you, my friend.

There, you learned something new today, and so did we.

In the news…

• Italian culinary expert Fabio Cucchelli to update Costa menus
• Guy Harvey artwork being applied to Norwegian Escape
• Wider variety of shore excursions coming for AIDA Cruises

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Norwegian Sky
4 nights
October 12, 2015
Miami (return): Grand Bahama Island, Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay
Inside: $259
Cost per day: $64
www.ncl.com

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