BookBrowse Reviews Village of the Ghost Bears by Stan Jones

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Village of the Ghost Bears

A Nathan Active Mystery

By Stan Jones

Village of the Ghost Bears
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  • Hardcover: Dec 2009,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2011,
    352 pages.

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The fourth installment in a mystery series set in Alaska

Village of the Ghost Bears is the fourth book in the series starring Alaskan Trooper Nathan Active. The series has many fans, and for good reason; this novel isn't just a mystery about who started a fatal fire, it's also a source of insight into the lives and culture of Native Americans in Northwest Alaska. Jones is an Alaskan native (and a Bush pilot), so he knows what he's talking about.

I have to praise the exceptionally useful and fun glossary of Northwest Alaskan terms in the Inupiaq* (IN-you-pack) language (which I understand he includes in every book). I learned from it that a kinnaq (KIN-ock) is "a crazy person," that iq'mik (ICK-mick) is "a form of chewing tobacco made by combining leaf tobacco with the ashes of burnt tree fungus, usually birch" and that quiyuk (KWEE-yuk) means "sex." (Try tossing those into your next dinner conversation.) Kidding aside, I found...

*Inupiat, Inuit, and Eskimo
Before he begins the novel, Jones explains the correct way to refer to the people of this region:

"Eskimo" is the best-known term for the Native Americans described in this book, but it is not their term. They call themselves "Inupiat," meaning "the people." "Eskimo," a term brought into Alaska by white men, is what certain Indian tribes in Eastern Canada called their neighbors to the north.

Jones, by the way, doesn't touch on the term "Inuit," however, some quick research revealed that "Inupiat" (IN-you-pat) is the name of one of three tribes that make up the Inuit people, making Inuit an accurate term as well. Jones' glossary does tell us that an individual member of the Inupiat tribe is called an "Inupiaq" (IN-you-pack).

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