The History of Kate Shugak in 22 Objects – 17

Warning: Spoilers spoken here.

HoZ Kate17

The Suulutag mine, of course, and more specifically, gold, and most specifically of all, Alaska’s mineral resources.

Barry W Nugget edit
The largest gold nugget ever found in Alaska, 294.10 troy ounces, or a little over twenty pounds, or almost $400,000 at today’s price per troy ounce.

I’m just going to cut and past Megan’s comment here

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because really, what else is there to say?

The Park’s Suulutaq mine is of course based on the Pebble Mine, the most controversial issue in Alaska today. It’s died down some since Pebble failed its EIS but I wouldn’t bet a wooden nickel against the chances of it heating up again if oil prices remain too long in the basement (cue the Donlin mine). As of the writing of this post the price of gold is $1,293.23 per troy ounce.

This is what we do in Alaska. We’re a resource extraction state; i.e., we pull stuff out. We pull stuff out of the water and we pull stuff out of the ground. It ties us to a boom-and-bust cycle we have yet to summon up the political will to change.

It’s easy to say let a beautiful place be, but the people who live there still have to eat. People like Kate, and the rest of the Park rats. All those dying villages along the Kanuyaq River in the books? They’re fictional, but there are plenty of real ones.

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14 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Without too much thought, I am going to say the map Old Sam left for Kate to find in the old mine. This is my favorite book in the series as there is so much history and so much discovery for Kate. She really learns more about Old Sam than she ever knew. The russian icons are important, but Kate goes on a real journey in this book. I love where Old Sam hides the map and that Kate knows how he would have hidden it once she saw the the special hiding place in her aunts china cabinet that Old Sam made for her. This book and the end of the previous are also heartbreaking because of the loss of Old Sam, my favorite character.

  2. Boxes, hidey holes and secret drawers. For Kate and for Jim, this book is a story of secrets. But it all revolves around the Icon.
    By the way, I will be in Homer tomorrow, the 12th! So excited!

  3. Ginger’s got it, although I would expand the “object” to the whole treasure hunt Old Sam set up. It’s Alaska told through one man’s lens, and what a panoramic lens! But it needs to be the whole treasure hunt because of its impact on Kate. Bobby had it right-Sam set it up that way because he knew Kate needed to get back to herself, and she needed a mystery to solve to do it.

  4. The map. It’s just my favorite part when Kate finds it hidden in the book cover. This is what really gets Kate on the scent. I’ve read this one at least 8 times and it’s great every time.

  5. Yes. The map. I also love this book. Can’t say its my favourite because I don’t think I’ve got one! I change it all the time. There is another object that I have to get in before the end. I’ve been meaning to for ages and now I’m running out of books. But it’s so important I’ve got to get it in sometime! For now it’s the map.

  6. Before getting into The Object, I just have to say that this is one of my favorite books in the series. There is so much in it: Old Sam’s backstory, Jim’s backstory, Auntie Joy’s, the history of Niniltna going way back, Ahtna’s history…this book is a delight in so many ways.
    Back when this project was first announced, one of my immediate thoughts was that when we got to this book, it would be a no-brainer. Obviously the choice would be the icon.
    Then I reread it (not for the first time, either). Then I read it again. Then I flipped through it repeatedly, reading bits and pieces. And one Object after another rose to the top. The icon, of course. Jim’s dad’s writing box, with the photo inside. The Cross of Gold Nugget. The manuscript. The map.
    I dismissed the writing box very quickly — this is about Kate’s history, not Jim’s.
    The Cross of Gold — certainly a motivator for some of the characters, but really not much to do with Kate’s history.
    The icon embodied the spirit of the tribe, so I gave it serious consideration, not just my initial knee-jerk choice.
    The map also drives a good bit of the action, but ultimately its significance is subsumed by the manuscript.
    But the more I thought about it, the more it came to me that the manuscript encompassed everything: the icon, the nugget, Old Sam’s history, Auntie Joy’s history, the map, even if some of them are not explicitly mentioned in it…and all those things, one way or another, went toward making Kate who she is, even if she only learned about them in the course of this book.
    So my vote is for the Dashiell Hammett manuscript.

  7. Old Sam, our elders always leave us too soon . They leave us seeking history untold. Old Sam and the Aunties resonate deep with me. Your treatment is so respectful, thank you.

    • I admit this death really stung. I was determined that Old Sam would go out as he would have wanted to, throwing a party and inviting everyone over to eat food he’d harvested himself. And then he sat down on his dock for a nap.

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