|Keim, Charles J.. Aghvook, White Eskimo. Otto Geist and
College, AK: University of Alaska Press, distributed by University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1969. 313 Seiten.
Mit einem Vorwort von Olaus J. Murie, 77 Fotos, farbiges Vorblatt, Index.
In 1924, when the well-known naturalist Olaus Murie and his wife were traveling up the Koyukuk River as passengers on a small sternwheeler, they became acquainted with the steamer's second engineer. A young German immigrant, Frank Otto William Geist had been in Alaska for only one year, but his enthusiasm impressed the Muries. "We soon realized that here was not just another restless young adventurer seeking a fortune and excitement in the far north," wrote Murie thirty-three years later. "Here was a man with an inherent interest in science, a tremendous curiosity about the north country and all its life, a great desire to add to the store of scientific knowledge; and he was a naturalborn collector!" The Muries' impression was correct. In 1957, Otto Geist was awarded an honorary degree of doctor of science by the University of Alaska in recognition of his contributions to Alaskan archaeology, geography, and palaeontology. This remarkable man worked in areas untouched by most professionals, with unusual persistence and patience under the most arduous conditions. Charles Keim, who knew Geist, has punctuated his biography with salient quotations from Geist's own journal and field notes. Reproduced here for the first time, these observations contain accounts by Eskimos that afford new views of life patterns and ceremonies on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea before these had been altered through the Eskimos' association with whites. There are data collected from St. Lawrence Island informants on the famine and debilitating epidemic of 1879 and 1880, and on contacts with Siberian Eskimos. Anthropologists will welcome the information on the skin boat, rope, and moon ceremonies that were conducted to insure good hunting for whales and other sea mammals.
Geist's day-by-day reports on Eskimo funerals and marriage customs, on his participation in the hunts, and on his work in painstakingly excavating Kukulik mound are important not only for the information preserved in them, but as documents of cultural impact. To signify their acceptance of him, the St. Lawrence Islanders gave Geist the name "Aghvook." At the same time he was tattooed with the design of a bowhead whaleor aghvook. Before his death in 1963, Otto Geist had amassed thousands of artifacts and natural history specimens, giving the University of Alaska an outstanding collection. This panoramic profile not only chronicles the milestones in Geist's professional career, but highlights his personal life as well: his boyhood in Upper Bavaria; his emigration from Germany; his service as a mechanic in the Mexican Border Campaign; his brief careers as gold miner and second engineer on an Alaskan river boat; his service as a truckdriver and chauffeur in World War I in the U.S. and overseas, and his appointment as quartermaster for the Alaska Territorial Guard during World War II. Aghvook, White Eskimo is an accurate and compelling study of one of the most vital characters ever to work in the territory and state of Alaska.
Charles J. Keim is a professor of journalism and English and dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Alaska. He was born and reared in Montana and received his B.A. degree in journalism and his M.A. in history from the University of Washington. He worked for United Press prior to serving as a combat infantry first sergeant in New Guinea during World War II, where he earned several decorations.
Professor Keim was a member of the reportorial and editorial staffs of several newspapers before beginning his teaching career. His short stories, magazine articles, and photographs have been published by numerous national and foreign publications, and he holds several writing awards from the Washington State and Alaska State press clubs. Professor Keim is a registered Alaska big game guide. He was elected to the Explorers Club of New York in recognition of his travels around the territory and state of Alaska, his participation in expeditions, and his published works. In 1963 the Alaska Press Club named Charles Keim an "Alaska 49'er," one of the first group of 49 Alaskans honored fog their "significant endeavors for the growth and cultural advancement of their state."