Yakwdaat Aya: This is Yakutat by Kadashan is a collection of fictional tales masterfully woven by the author and seasoned by his own life experiences as an inhabitant of a small village of Tlingit Indians in southeastern Alaska. It is a remarkable and very illustrative painting of their culture, their people, and their struggles.
Don’t think, though, that Kadashan’s tales are fantastic and epic, nor are the challenges his characters face mythical beasts, made up for the sake of fun; no, Yakwdaat Aya: This is Yakutat allows us to see how the Tlingit have faced struggles that are common to us all – namely the day-to-day survival fight we all go through – but in a way harsher environment and how those hardships have shaped the secular Tlingit people. The author shows all that with impeccable writing, layered with beautiful descriptions of the character’s routines that offer us not just a glimpse, but a full-motion video of that time in rich detail. The description of actions and scenarios is so well-made, that it is easy to transport ourselves to the situations lived by each character.
I can’t stress enough how tasteful the “seasoning” of the author’s life and observations is to his tales. While you know the stories are fictional, there is just so much down-to-earth, passionate penmanship here that it’s impossible to think that they are entirely made-up. They are not, as I suspect Kadashan may have lived and met some of the people that inhabit the small, yet giant in itself, world of the stories. What crowns my suspicion is the final tale, which is dedicated to someone very real and exhibits an important figure’s whole soul through a few pages. I will not spoil it here, of course – all I can say is that it concludes the book by showing the core of the Tlingit spirit, and again, through a vast choice of words, yet so simple in its nature.
I recommend Yakwdaat Aya: This is Yakutat by Kadashan to pretty much everyone. It’s heartwarming, endearing, and definitely human. Have an imaginative seat with Kadashan and let him tell you the tales of a land of majestic bears, river fishing, and seal hunting. Amidst your trip through his words, you will find a portrait of the People of the Tides that you literally cannot find anywhere else.
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