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Blonde Indian book cover

Blonde Indian: an Alaska Native Memoir by Ernestine Hayes 

Read the book, join the campus conversation!

Complimentary copies will be provided to all Juneau Campus New-Student Orientation attendees. 

  • Help us improve the OCOB program, complete this short Evaluation
  • Find a copy at the Egan Library (or Juneau area libraries)
  • Read the eBook via the Egan Library (Ebrary collection, login with UAS username/password)
  • Preview the book  (google books preview)
  • Explore the pre-publication Manuscript and Author's correspondence (via ScholarWorks@UA) | Access to original manuscript materials are restricted to in-library use at the University of Alaska Southeast Egan Library and requires pre-approval from a staff librarian. Researchers are encouraged to use the online version of this collection.
  • Watch an archive recording of Ernestine Hayes' presentation An Animate World (select 11.6.2015 from the playlist menu).
  • Participate in a book discussion at an event near you in January and February 2016.  The Alaska Center for the Book presents Alaska Reads 2016, a statewide celebration of Blonde Indian.  


Winner of the 2007 American Book Award and finalist for the PEN Nonfiction Award and Kiriyama Prize, Blonde Indian tells the story of the author's journey back home after a twenty-five year absence.

An Alaska Native woman is born in a time of transition and at the hem of two worlds. In Blonde Indian, an Alaska Native Memoir, that life is reflected in Southeast Alaska's rich rainforest and in the overwhelmed culture of the area's original people, the Lingit. Stories of salmon, bear, and landscape expressed themselves in clan histories and personal memoir as the reciprocal relationship between people and the land emerges.

Told in eloquent layers that blend Native stories and metaphor with social and spiritual journeys, this enchanting memoir traces the author's life from her difficult childhood growing up in the Tlingit community, through her adulthood, during which she lived for some time in Seattle and San Francisco, and eventually to her return home. Neither fully Native American nor Euro-American, Hayes encounters a unique sense of alienation from both her Native community and the dominant culture. We witness her struggles alongside other Tlingit men and women— many of whom never left their Native community but wrestle with their own challenges, including unemployment, prejudice, alcoholism, and poverty.

“One of the most important books to come out of Alaska. There have been other great memoirs by Alaska Natives, but few if any have been made with such disarming humor, such bravery and such warmth.”  --The Anchorage Press

“This sometimes raw, consistently honest memoir is a rewarding, evocative, ultimately uplifting
view of Native life.” --Deborah Donovan, Booklist

See the EVENTS tab for 1 time Events.  Below are 2 additional ongoing opportunities to connect with this year's themes. 


2015-16 Featured Speakers:

Ernestine Hayes

Author Ernestine HayesErnestine was born to the Wolf House, Tlingit Kaagwaantaan clan in Alaska at the end of World War II. In Blonde Indian, an Alaska Native Memoir, she weaves reminiscences of her life, stories from her grandmother, Tlingit history, nature writing, and fiction into a testament of the twentieth-century Alaska Native experience and a love song to the land. 

In 2007, Blonde Indian received an American Book Award and Honoring Alaska Indigenous Literature award, was named October 2006 Native America Calling Book of the Month, and was a finalist for the 2007 Kiriyama Prize and the 2007 PEN Non-fiction Award.  She received her MFA in creative writing and literary arts from the University of Alaska Anchorage and is currently Assistant Professor of English at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau.  

Ishmael Hope

author Ishmael HopeIshmael Hope, born in Sitka, Alaska, and living in Juneau, is a storyteller and writer who shares stories from his Iñupiaq and Tlingit heritages. The son of two Alaskan poets, the late Elizabeth Freda Hope from the Goodwin family in Kotzebue, and the late Andy Hope III from Sitka, a Tlingit of the S’iknaxh.ádi clan, Ishmael’s Iñupiaq name is Angaluuk and his Tlingit name is Khaagwáask’, and he is of the Kiks.ádi clan, the X’aaká Hít, the Point House, of Sitka. Describing Courtesans of Flounder Hill, the late poet and scholar of Tlingit oral literature, Richard Dauenhauer, said Ishmael Hope “explores and reminds us how each of us is central in a multigenerational relationship involving ancestry, self, and descendants; heritage, contemporary culture, and legacy; an unbroken chain of storytellers, daily life, and dreams, always negotiating, in the words of T. S. Eliot, between tradition and the individual talent. He writes in one poem, that ‘myths are a place to rest / from so much catching up to ourselves, / a place to rest in all this confusion.’”

Amy Fredeen 

Cultural Ambassador Amy FredeenIn addition to her role as Chief Financial Officer at E-Line, Amy also currently serves as the Executive Vice President and CFO of Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC), an innovative nonprofit that provides educational and social services to Alaska Natives and American Indian people in the Cook Inlet Region of Alaska. Amy also serves as the President/Chair for the Board of International Funders for Indigenous Peoples, serves on the Board of Directors for Cook Inlet Native Head Start and the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts and is an active member of Rotary.

One Campus, One Book is the common reading program at UAS-Juneau.  It's a celebration of literature and the relationships and communities that develop between readers and writers.  The program grew out of the Student Success Forum with the goal of helping foster community and compassion on campus.  The program's first year (2010) featured David Issay's Listening is an Act of Love and a corresponding campus oral history project ( The UAS Listening Project) collected the stories of students, faculty and staff.   In 2012 the program was formalized as a program of the Egan Library, a selection committee established and in 2013 these program goals and criteria were adopted.  


The UAS One Campus, One Book program will:

  • Begin an exploration of interdisciplinary approaches
  • Create opportunities for learning in and out of the classroom.
  • Foster student, staff and community participation and identification as contributing members of an intellectual community.
  • Promote reading and "foster a page-turning togetherness".*

       *based on DC We Read 2009

Criteria for book selection:

  • The extent to which the book matches program goals (touches on interdisciplinary perspectives and has the potential for integration into curriculum, is not too challenging in terms of reading level or topic).
  • Has the potential for a variety of related program (themes).
  • The book won’t have likely been assigned reading during high school.
  • Accessibility: The book is between 250-350 pages in length, engaging, college-level reading and not a text-book
  • Accessibility: is available currently in paperback
  • Accessibility: bulk ordering of the book won’t require a reprint of the title.
  • The author may be available to visit campus (within our modest budget).

Core Planning and Selection Committee:

AY16 (Fall 2015-Spring 2016).  Planning Meetings will be tentatively be held 3rd Fridays from 1-3pm in Egan Library room 211.  Meeting dates: 9/18, 10/16, 11/20, 12/11*, 1/15, 2/19, 3/18, 4/15.  *2nd Friday.  

Jonas Lamb, Assistant Professor of Library Science/Public Services Librarian, Chair

Lisa Richardson, Assistant Professor of Education

Richard Simpson, Assistant Professor of Humanities

Katy Spangler, Professor of Education

Vacant, AY 15-16 Student Rep

7:00 PM
Coppa (917 Glacier Ave)
11:00 AM
New Valley Public Library (Community Room)

2015-16 Blonde Indian

If you are considering using Blonde Indian: an Alaska Native Memoir in your class, would like to arrange for Ernestine Hayes to visit your class or are interested in serving on the Planning and Selection Commitee please send us an email to We may also have desk/review copies available.  

School of Education Faculty and Staff contact your department Administrative Assistant if you would like a copy of the book.   

This page is updated regularly and features a bibliography of complimentary books and discussion themes by discipline to compliment this year's selection and provide alternate sources for discussion in academic classes.    

Themes by Discipline |

Social Science:  Homelessness, poverty, transition, psychology, domestic violence, substance abuse, anthropology, oral traditions, origin stories, distribution of populations, Alaska & Juneau history (Territory>Statehood), social services. 

Natural Science:  Climate change, glaciology, dispersion of populations, natural history, fisheries

Humanities:  Literature of the environment, literature of place, memoir, gender studies, Native Languages, Alaska Native Studies, Intercultural communication, Interpersonal communication, Digital Humanities

Education:  History of boarding schools, education of Alaska Native children in Juneau, culturally responsive education, non-traditional/adult education

Career Education:  Health sciences, history of disease/epidemics (TB), boating safety, tie into Native Voices exhibition (provided by National Library of Medicine) at the Egan Library Sep-Dec 2015

Select Bibliography of Related Works | 

The Way to Rainy Mountain by M. Scott Momaday

Never Alone: Using games as an invitation for courageous learning by Heather Bryant for KTOO

The Case for Reparations  by Ta-Nehisi Coates (from The Atlantic)

The names : a memoir by N. Scott Momaday.

Black and Blue and Blonde: Where does race fit in the construction of modern identity? by Thomas Chatterton Williams (essay from Virginia Quarterly Review)

Nature's state : imagining Alaska as the last frontier by Susan Kollin.

Fifty miles from tomorrow : a memoir of Alaska and the real people by William L. Iġġiaġruk Hensley.

Raising ourselves : a Gwich'in coming of age story from the Yukon River by Velma Wallis ; illustrated by James L. Grant, Sr.

Corpse whale by dg nanouk okpik ; foreword by Arthur Sze.

The spell of the sensuous : perception and language in a more-than-human world by David Abram.

Do you know of a great book that could create community and conversation on campus through the OCOB program? If so, the Selection Committee invites you to submit your idea for the next book.  We look forward to adding your nominations to the ongoing consideration pool.  Please keep in mind the program goals, selection criteria and we'd love to hear your ideas for related programming.  

For examples, check out the common reading suggestions from some publishers:
Random House 
Harper Collins 
National Association of Scholars 

Book Nomination Form


Internship Opportunities:

Interested in Interning with the OCOB program? Talk to your advisor and contact before 12/1/2015 (for Spring 16 internship)

The OCOB Student internship will provide students with experience in the management, marketing and promotion of arts and culture events by assisting in the production of the campus-wide common reading program, One Campus, One Book and related campus and community events. This internship will also incorporate independent networking around the City and Borough of Juneau with the purpose of determining how arts and culture organizations develop, budget, staff, coordinate logistics, and evaluate their programs and events.  Duties vary between Fall and Spring Internship opportunities and each interested student is encouraged to work with their faculty advisor and OCOB faculty sponsors to adapt the internship to meet their program needs.  The OCOB internship can be adapted to meet a variety of programatic needs including Humanities, Communication, English and more.  Student interns can also choose to enroll at either 291/391/491 levels and typically for 3 credits (requires 150 clock hours).  These internship opportunities are open until filled.  Deadline to apply for fall is May 1 of the prior year and the deadline for the spring internship is December 1.  

Objectives:  One objective of the internship will be to provide the student an opportunity to actively participate in the management, marketing and promotion of an arts and culture event.

Interns will:

  • Attend regular OCOB committee planning and other related meetings/trainings (budget/CMS). 
  • Review and critically evaluate potential book titles for selection
  • Assist in book orders and author visit planning
  • Create promotional materials, surveys and content for print, web (CMS training provided) and social media
  • Assist in event scheduling and event logistics.
  • Develop written and oral communication skills by discussing and promoting OCOB programs and events with students and in the community
  • Develop confidence and communication skills serving as coordinator of correspondence and communication with invited author, publisher and other guest speakers/performers.

Questions about the internship?  Contact Jonas Lamb ( or call 907-796-6440

Information about previous OCOB selections and links to audio/video when available.  

2015: Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir by Ernestine Hayes

Hayes' visited 15 classes on the Juneau and Sitka campuses, attended a reception in her honor held by the UAS Honors Program and participated in 3 community events culminating in her Evening at Egan Lecture, "An Animate World", Nov. 6th, 2015 [watch, select 11_6_2015 from playlist]

2014:  Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck

Steinbeck and Ricketts scholar Katie Rodger visited the Juneau campus for a series of class visits, reception and an Evening at Egan Lecture, 'Discovering Science: Finding the Story', Oct. 10th, 2014 [watch]  

Artist and socio-ecological activist Colleen Flanigan visited the Sitka and Juneau campuses for a series of class visits and presentations on Merging Art and Environmental Sciences.  

2013: At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson

Kij Johnson visited the Juneau campus for a series of class visits, the one-night only production of a staged reading and an Evening at Egan Lecture.

UAS Drama Club S.C.R.I.P.T performed "Finding True North", Nov. 6th 2013 [listen]
Kij Johnson presented and Evening at Egan lecture, Egan Library, Nov. 8th, 2013 [ watch]

Narrative Endeavors: Visual and Literary Art Exhibition.  One night only student art show with open mic and Google Hangout with Kij Johnson.  Downtown Gallery, April 4th, 2014.   

John Marzluff, author of Gifts of the Crow: How perception, emotion, and thought allow smart birds to behave like humans presented a different perspective on this year's OCOB theme of human-animal communication and communicating with the other at a Sound and Motion Lecture on April 18th, 2014.  

2012: Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer  

Karsten Heuer and Leanne Alison visited the Juneau campus for a series of lectures, film screening and classroom visits. Gwich’in elder Randall Tetlichi was elder-in-residence on the Juneau Campus and gave another perspective on related themes.

Gwich’in elder Randall Tetlichi presented an Evening at Egan lecture, Egan Library: Nov. 9th  2012 [watch ]
Leanne screened the related film, Egan Lecture Hall followed by a Q&A, Nov. 15th 2012 [watch]
Karsten presented an Evening at Egan lecture, Egan Library, Nov. 16th 2012 [watch]
Sarah Ray, OCOB 2012 Committee Chair

2011: The Truth About Stories by Thomas King

2010: Listening is an Act of Love by David Isay


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