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Alaska's Tlingit Canoe Culture Featured In Kim Heacox Novel

cover image: Kim Heacox
Alaska Northwest Books

About Jimmy Bluefeather:

Old Keb Wisting is somewhere around ninety-five years old (he lost count awhile ago) and in constant pain and thinks he wants to die. He also thinks he thinks too much. Part Norwegian and part Tlingit Native (“with some Filipino and Portuguese thrown in”), he’s the last living canoe carver in the village of Jinkaat, in Southeast Alaska.

When his grandson, James, a promising basketball player, ruins his leg in a logging accident and tells his grandpa that he has nothing left to live for, Old Keb comes alive and finishes his last canoe, with help from his grandson. Together (with a few friends and a crazy but likeable dog named Steve) they embark on a great canoe journey. Suddenly all of Old Keb’s senses come into play, so clever and wise in how he reads the currents, tides and storms. Nobody can find him. He and the others paddle deep into wild Alaska, but mostly into the human heart, in a story of adventure, love, and reconciliation. With its rogue’s gallery of colorful, endearing, small-town characters, Jimmy Bluefeather stands as a wonderful blend of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and John Nichols’s The Milagro Beanfield War, with dashes of John Steinbeck thrown in.

Jimmy Bluefeather won the 2015 National Outdoor Book Award for literary fiction.

Read what Kirkus Reviews has to say about Jimmy Bluefeather.

An interview with Kim Heacox at NW Book Lovers.

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Credit Jack Swenson
Kim Heacox

Kim Heacox is the award-winning author of several books including the acclaimed John Muir and the Ice That Started a Fire (which received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher's Weekly) and Rhythm of the Wild(just released.)

His feature articles have appeared in Audubon, Travel & Leisure, Wilderness, Islands, Orion, and National Geographic Traveler. His editorials, written for the Los Angeles Times, have appeared in many major newspapers across the United States.

Kim was also commentator along with Gretel Ehrlich and other environmental VIPs on Ken Burns's twelve-hour PBS film The National Parksdocumenting the history of the national parks and the US conservation movement, currently airing on Netflix.

A contract writer with the National Geographic Society since 1985, Kim has twice won the Lowell Thomas Award for excellence in travel writing and was a finalist for the Pen Center USA Western award for his memoir, The Only Kayak.

The cover of the National Outdoor Book Award winning Jimmy Bluefeather also features an image by Heacox whose photographs are sold around the world by Getty Images.

When not playing the guitar, doing simple carpentry, or writing, he's sea kayaking in Gustavus, Alaska, gateway to Glacier Bay National Park with his wife, Melanie.

> The music in this program was written and performed by John Floridis. <

Chérie Newman is a former arts and humanities producer and on-air host for Montana Public Radio, and a freelance writer. She founded and previously hosted a weekly literary program, The Write Question, which continues to air on several public radio stations; it is also available online at and
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