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Distributed for University of Alaska Press

Our Perfect Wild

Ray & Barbara Bane’s Journeys and the Fate of Far North

Distributed for University of Alaska Press

Our Perfect Wild

Ray & Barbara Bane’s Journeys and the Fate of Far North

Ray and Barbara Bane worked as teachers in Barrow and Wainwright, Alaska, in the early 1960s—but they didn’t simply teach the children of their Iñupiat Eskimo and Koyukon friends and neighbors: they fully embraced their lifestyle. Doing so, they realized how closely intertwined life in the region was with the land, and, specifically, how critical wilderness was to the ancient traditions and wisdom that undergirded the Native way of life. That slow realization came to a head during a 1,200-mile dogsled trip from Hughes to Barrow in 1974—a trip that led them to give up teaching in favor of working, through the National Park Service, to preserve Alaska’s wilderness.

This book tells their story, a tale of dedication and tireless labor in the face of suspicion, resistance, and even violence. At a time when Alaska’s natural bounty remains under threat, Our Perfect Wild shows us an example of the commitment—and love—that will be required to preserve it.

280 pages | 74 color plates, 2 maps | 6 x 9 | © 2016

Biography and Letters

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“Brimming with wilderness adventure and lessons of the Old Ways, all woven tight as a reed basket with the courage, humility, and tenacity it takes to stand and fight for what you know and love, the Banes’ story is vital to understanding modern-day Alaska.”

Alaska History

“With her characteristic poise and brevity, distinguished Alaskan journalist Kaylene Johnson chronicles the Banes’ story of environmental gumption in the wilderness. . . . As her narrative gallops into environmental controversies, it shines with Johnson’s insight and intelligence.”

Molly Peacock, author of The Paper Garden

Table of Contents


1. “When Are We Going?”
2. One Year
3.  To The Top of the World
4. Going to the Dogs
5. Becoming Eskimo
6. Ekak
7. Learning to Fly
8. Hungry Country
9. Hog River Gary
10. In the Presence of Wolves
11. The 1200-Mile Journey
12. Through Ancient Eyes
13. A Place Apart
14. Selby Lake
15. Birth and Trauma
16. Line of Fire
17. Growing Pains
18. A Keeper of the Park
19. Among Bears
20. Exxon Valdez
21. Katmai Carnival
22. Reining in the Rebel
23. Citizens of the Natural World

Acknowledgements—Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan
Acknowledgements—Ray Bane
Sources and Recommendation Readings
Conservation Organizations

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