Richard Nelson

 

“Grandpa William once told me: A good hunter…that’s somebody the animal’s come to. But if you lose your luck with a certain kind of animal – maybe you talk wrong about it or don’t treat it with respect – then for a while you won’t get any, no matter how hard you try…With most animals, if you don’t do something too bad, sooner or later it wears off and they start coming back to you.” – From The island Within

 

“I stop in the shadows along the muskeg’s upper edge, and think back over the years with Koyukon people. What stands out for me at this moment is a special wisdom of their tradition – to expect nothing of nature, but to humbly receive its mystery, beauty, food, and life. In return, Koyukon people show the same respect toward nature that is shown toward humans, acknowledging that spirit and sacredness pervade all things. If I understand correctly, their behavior toward nature is ordered around a few simple principles: Move slowly, stay quiet, watch carefully, be ever humble, show no hint of arrogance or disrespect. And if they follow one overarching commandment, it is to approach all life, of which humans are a part, with humility and restraint. All things are among the chosen”. – From The island Within

 

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In his work among Alaskan native peoples, anthropologist Nelson came to admire their relationship with the environment and sought to emulate it. Thus his exploration of an island off the Pacific Northwest coast is a search for a way of belonging to its natural community, to be not only observer, but participant in its life cycle. Nelson tramps through forest and muskeg with his dog; he roams the beaches and chances solitary surfing. His numerous encounters with wildlife are rewarding, both for him and for the reader–here are falcons and bald eagles, brown bears, otters, seals, whales and spawning salmon. Living in an isolated area, Nelson depends on hunting and fishing for food, but he accords each animal he kills the respect taught him by the Alaskan natives. Whether he is describing the remains of a clear-cut forest, a beached whale or a night in a petrel rookery, Nelson gives a notably sensitive portrait of island life. – Publisher’s Weekly

The Island Within (Hardcover)

Recounts the author’s experiences on a remote Alaskan island, revealing how his adoption of the Eskimo Koyukon wisdom has positively affected his life

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A Journal of Wild Game, Fighting Fish, and Grand Pursuit