Birket-Smith, Kaj, 1893-1977. The Eyak Indians of the Copper River Delta, Alaska

Table of Contents

Publication Information


Part I : Description Of Eyak Ethnology

Material Culture.

Territory And Villages.

Village Sites.






Personal Adornment.


Tools And Techniques.

Preparation Of Food.

Land Animal Hunting.

Sea Mammal Hunting.

Bird Hunting.


Social Culture.

Moieties And Chiefs.

The Family.



Crime And Punishment.


Historical Traditions And Relations With Other Tribes.


Puberty And Menstruation.


Training Of Boys.

Death And Burial.

The Potlatch.

Accounts Of Potlatches.

Ownership And Inheritance.

Intellectual Culture.


Transvestites And Witches.


Stories About Shamans.

Johnny Stevens :

Old Man Dude :

Chitina Joe Nicolai :

Other Copper River Shamans:



Part Ii : Eyak Folklore


The Raven Cycle.

The Raven Cycle, Told By Old Man Dude .

The Raven Cycle, Told By Johnny Stevens.

The Raven Cycle, Told By Galushia Nelson.

Other Myths And Legends.

Tale 1a: “porcupine And Beaver In Partnership” (gn).

Tale 1b: Porcupine And Beaver (js).

Tale 2: “where Wolverine And Fox Ware Cousins” (gn).

Tale 3: “wolverine Man” (gn).

Tale 4 A: “taken By Fish People” (gn).

Tale 4 B: (salmon Boy) (dude).

Tale. 5: “turned Into A Groundhog” (gn).

Tale 6 A: “living With The Black Bear.” (gn).

Tale 6 B: (the Woman Who Married A Bear) (dude).

Tale 7: “brown Bear People” (gn).

Tale 8: “porpoise People” (written By Gn. He Later Corrected The Title To “blackfish People”).

Tale 9: “blackfish People” (gn).

Tale 10: “he Came Back To Shore Together With The Seal People” (gn).

Tale 11: “boy Turning Into A Loon” (gn).

Tale 12 A: “where A Man Killed Lots Of Land-otters” (gn).

Tale 12: (the Man And The Land-otters) (dude).

Tale 13: (the Porcupine's Dance) (dude).

Tale 14 A: “the Big Mouse” (gn).

Tale 14 B (the Giant Mole) (dude).

Tale 15 A: (giant Animals) (gn).

Tale 15 B: (the Giant Devilfish) (dude).

Tale 16: “alder People And Sun People” (gn).

Tale 17: “calm Weather's Daughter” (diäὲtsi) (gn) .

Tale 18: “around-the-lake-people” Ma N Kαdítłiadaὲɔ� N 'iyù ( Gn ).

Tale 19: “wolf People” (gn) .

Tale 20: “tree People” Lístád´xɔ N 'iyù (gn)

Tale 21: “one-eyed Frog” (gn) .

Tale 22: (the Man And The Salmon Tail) (gn) .

Tale 23: (the Man Who Fed A Starving Animal) (gn) .

Tale 24: (the Girl And The Dog) (gn) .

Tale 25: “good-for-nothing” (written By Gn) .

Tale 26: (a Tlingit War Story) (gn) .

Tale 27: (the Man Who Killed His Children) (gn) .

Tale 28: (the Illegitimate Child) (gn) .

Tale 29: (the Man Who Left His Wife) (gn) .

Tale 30: (the Little Girl Who Played With Dolls) (written By Gn) .

Tale 31: “taking Away By Owl” (written By Gn) .

Tale 32: “taking Away By Checkers People” (written By Gn)

Part Iii : Critical Analysis Of Previous Writers On The Eyak

Who Are The Eyak?



Evidence From Steller And Other Early Explorers.

Confusion Of The Eyak With The Tlingit.


Part Iv : Analysis Of Eyak Ethnology

Material Culture.

The House.



Personal Adornment.

Tools And Techniques.

Hunting And Fishing.

Preparation Of Food.

Social Culture.

Social Organization.



The Phases Of Life.

Feasts And Games.

Intellectual Culture.

Magic And Taboo.





Constituent Complexes In Eyak Culture.

The Building Of Eyak Culture.

Publication Information

Paragraph Subjects (OCM)

Publication Information The main body of the Publication Information page contains all the metadata that HRAF holds for that document.

Author: Author's name as listed in Library of Congress records

Title: The Eyak Indians of the Copper River Delta, Alaska

Published By: Original publisher København: Levin & Munksgaard, E. Munksgaard. 1938. 592 p. ill., maps

By line: Author's name as appearing in the actual publication by Kaj Birket-Smith and Frederica De Laguna

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: Human Relations Area Files, 2020. Computer File

Culture: Culture name from the Outline of World Cultures (OWC) with the alphanumberic OWC identifier in parenthesis. Eyak (NA07)

Subjects: Document-level OCM identifiers given by the anthropology subject indexers at HRAF Historical reconstruction (174); Identification (101); Location (131); Community structure (621); Inter-community relations (628); Inter-ethnic relations (629); Linguistic identification (197); Moieties (616); Organized ceremonial (796); Gift giving (431); Comparative evidence (171); Mythology (773); Boats (501); Water transport (505); Hunting and trapping (224); Fishing (226); Topography and geology (133); Dwellings (342); Building interiors and arrangement (353); Acculturation and culture contact (177);

Abstract: Brief abstract written by HRAF anthropologists who have done the subject indexing for the document This book draws on rich archeological data and oral information to reconstruct the history and culture of the Eyak. Topics examined include the territorial scope of their historical homeland, the specific locations of some of the major villages mentioned in the stories of informants, and a comparative analysis of house types, burial sites, hunting tools, and related material culture. Also discussed are the Eyak peoples’ historical relationship to neighboring groups, with particular focus on the regionally-dominant Tlingit and other “Eskimo” communities. The authors analyze features of Eyak mythology and social organization that reflect ethnic and linguistic ties to the Tlingit and other non-Athapaskan groups; for example, how the division of Eyak society into two moieties indicates Tlingit influence. A considerable portion of the text is devoted to a wide-ranging comparison traits, mainly showing ties to Northwest Coast cultures.

Document Number: HRAF's in-house numbering system derived from the processing order of documents 1

Document ID: HRAF's unique document identifier. The first part is the OWC identifier and the second part is the document number in three digits. na07-001

Document Type: May include journal articles, essays, collections of essays, monographs or chapters/parts of monographs. Monograph

Language: Language that the document is written in English

Note: At head of title: Det Kgl. danske videnskabernes selskab. "Published with the support of the grants from the Rask-Ørsted Foundation and the Penrose Fund of the American Philosophical Society." Includes bibliographical references (p. 573-591)

Field Date: The date the researcher conducted the fieldwork or archival research that produced the document 1930, 1933, 1935

Evaluation: In this alphanumeric code, the first part designates the type of person writing the document, e.g. Ethnographer, Missionary, Archaeologist, Folklorist, Linguist, Indigene, and so on. The second part is a ranking done by HRAF anthropologists based on the strength of the source material on a scale of 1 to 5, as follows: 1 - poor; 2 - fair; 3 - good, useful data, but not uniformly excellent; 4 - excellent secondary data; 5 - excellent primary data Anthropologist, Archaeologist/Ethnologist - 4, 5

Analyst: The HRAF anthropologist who subject indexed the document and prepared other materials for the eHRAF culture/tradition collection. Teferi Abate Adem

Coverage Date: The date or dates that the information in the document pertains to (often not the same as the field date). 1883-1935

Coverage Place: Location of the research culture or tradition (often a smaller unit such as a band, community, or archaeological site) Cordova and Copper River delta area, Valdez-Cordova Census Area, Alaska, United States

LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings Eyak Indians//Indians of North America--Alaska//Copper River Region (Alaska)


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