A Teacher’s Guide

Whisper to the Blood

Whisper to the Blood cover art

1 – As is usual in her novels about Aleut investigator Kate Shugak, author Dana Stabenow has taken a high and free hand with Alaskan geography, history, current events and population. For example, in Whisper to the Blood she has based her fictional Suulutaq Mine in the Park on the real Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska. There is a wealth of information about the real mine on the Internet, pro, con, and informational, including

the Wiki article on Pebble

The Pebble Partnership – a project guide funded by the mine owners

The Truth About Pebble – a pro-mine support group of Alaska businesses

a blog about the Pebble Mine on the Anchorage Daily News website

Stop the Pebble Mine – a group of Bristol Bay citizens against the Pebble Mine

Alaska Trekking – a frequent hiker’s guide to the Pebble Mine area, with many photos

2 – Stabenow based the Park in the Kate Shugak novels on the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in southeastern Alaska. While she is often quoted as saying, “I never let the truth get in the way of a good story,” there are many similarities between the two Parks. Information about the real one can be found here:

The official NPS website for the Wrangell-St. Elias Park

Alaska’s answer to the NPS website for Wrangell-St. Elias Park

3 – Kate is, among other things, an Aleut, but the Park was originally occupied by Athabascans and Tlingits. How did Stabenow manage this ethnic sleight of hand? When the Japanese invaded the Aleutian Islands in World War II, the US Army relocated the Aleuts to other places in Alaska, a story Kate tells in the third Kate Shugak novel, Dead in the Water. Sources for the reader interested in investigating further:

the NPS article on Aleut Internment

a recording of Anatoly Lekanof’s story

a bibliography for The Aleut Story

Fun things to do for younger students

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