More about me

When Claire Murphy and I wrote Gold Rush Women in 1997 we included Native women in a story that was fundamental to white colonial ‘pioneer’ history. That turned out to be a radical decision. We included the same range of biography and photographs for each of the 24 women we profiled. While pioneers had celebrated the earliest American traders as “Fathers of the Yukon,” we showed that all of these traders were married to Dene women, the true “Mothers of the Yukon,” heretofore not acknowledged in the pioneer histories. As we presented in Fairbanks elementary schools, we discovered that in nearly every class there was at least one child who was related in some way to these Fathers and Mothers of the Yukon. Then I worked with the University of Alaska Museum to create an exhibit, Threads of Gold,  based on the book. When the exhibit opened, it was clear that together the book and the exhibit created abridge between the pioneers and the Native community. And then, for the first time, a number of Native men were included in the Mining Hall of Fame.

I lived in Alaska for almost thirty years, and then earned a Phd in US History and American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona. Since 2009 I have been teaching Alaska History. Over the last five or six years I added a documents and information on Native Alaskans. However,it finally became clear that no amount of added material is enough. The whole story of Alaska needs to be rewritten to include the stories that are always left out.