Always Getting Ready

by James H.Barker. University of Washington, $50.00/ $29.95. Mr. Barker first visited the Yup’ik Eskimos of southwest Alaska and then settled among them, taking photographs all the way. His text concentrates on how the Yup’ik support themselves through the seasons of hunting, fishing, and berry picking—for one of which they are always getting ready— and it is full of fascinating details about such matters as the effect of wind on the salmon run and the means of locating one’s position on the “flat white plain” of shore-fast ice. There is information on government meddling and a section on the potlatch, with photographs of dancers whose heavy boots and layered clothing make them resemble agile, histrionic teddy bears. All the photographs are in black and white, and they splendidly convey both the hardships of Yup’ik life and the resilience of Yup’ik people.
—Phoebe-Lou Adams