Book Description

Review In this wonderful wildness adventure memoir, Holloway recollects his time as first year medical student from South Carolina who decides to embark on what would become a life-changing summer adventure to the backcountry of northern Alaska in 1961. Traveling with his brother and a classmate, they are guided to the isolated camp of an 81-year-old Gwich'in Indian medicine-man named Johnny Frank. They end up spending their trip with the storyteller and his wife, Sarah, hunting and fishing, helping with camp chores, and learning the pleasures and hardships of living off the land. Over years, Holloway returns, developing a deep, meaningful, and life-long relationship with Johnny and Sarah Frank, who come to consider him a grandson. He goes on to practice medicine in Alaska before moving to Washington, D.C. to become a lobbyist who advocates environmental issues and the interests of Alaska's native people. Holloway's memoir is an invigorating tale of high-adventure and sturdy self-reliance. It provides an intimate glimpse into life in the Alaskan wilderness and the lives of the remote Gwich'in people. Moreover, it preserves a collection of the stories, memories, and mythology from a Gwich'in elder that might otherwise have been lost with his passing. 24 b&w photos. (May)--Publisher's Weekly STARRED Review'We won't be seeing stories like this anymore, this remarkable real-deal first-person account of two generous and wry Indian elders who were still living out in the Brooks Range wilderness in the 1960s. Johnny and Sarah Frank's memories reach back to the time before settled villages, to years of near-starvation and animal dreaming, while their grandchildren would become Native leaders in the modern era. Their story is told by a wide-eyed Southern doctor who stumbles into the Chandalar River country and is transformed into an advocate for the protection of wild Alaska and Native subsistence rights. Dreaming Bears is Alaska's Dersu Uzala.' --Tom Kizzia, Author of Pilgrim's Wilderness and The Wake of the Unseen Object'The fight to save the calving grounds of the caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the great environmental issues of our time. It is also a fight to save the Gwich'in - the northernmost Indians in North America who depend on the caribou to sustain their way of life, which has existed since time immemorial. Mike Holloway's book based on his experiences with an elderly Gwich'in couple illuminates the Gwich'in way of life and provides the reader with an understanding on why both the caribou and the Gwich'in need to be saved.' --John E. Echohawk, Executive Director, Native American Rights Fund'This book provides a vivid accounting of life in Gwich'in country from the 1960s to the 1990s, and respectfully presents Native traditions and storytelling. By experiencing the Franks and their lifestyle through Holloway's eyes, the reader gains a true sense of the place, the people, and their way of life.... This is a well-written account of a period in Alaska's history that no longer exists. A time when Gwich'in were still living on the land, making skin covered canoes, suffering hardship and shortages as well celebrating plenty. It is an important documentation of history, but also shows us how much we can learn from each other as human beings, no matter our cultures or our ages.... While other work has been done with Johnny and Sarah Frank... this book is a unique contribution to the existing knowledge.... None of the previous works are as fresh and personal as Dreaming Bears --Karen Brewster, Fairbanks, Alaska History Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 1 Read more About the Author Born in Greenwood, South Carolina, Mike Holloway studied medicine in South Carolina and Virginia. He became a Peace Corps doctor and worked for the regional Native hospital in southwest Alaska, before moving to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage in 1973. Mike also worked as a subsistence advocate and village liaison for the Alaska Rural Community Action Program before returning to the medical center as chief of orthopedics. After retiring, Mike taught orthopedics in Uganda, Cameroon, Bhutan, and Nicaragua. He is married to Margie Gibson and lives near Indian, Alaska. Read more