Tanana (American Indians Ready Reference)
The Tanana inhabited the southeastern portion of Alaska around the Tanana River, hunting and fishing for their subsistence. The Tananas’ most important food source was caribou—in the fall, tribesmen trapped them against fences, then killed them with lances and arrows. Surplus meat was dried for winter use. In the spring, the Tanana hunted moose, muskrat, and beaver. Beginning in June, whitefish and salmon were caught in nets and cylindrical fishtraps. Women gathered berries and roots and snared marmots and squirrels.
Tanana shelters varied with the seasonal activity. Dome-shaped lodges covered with skins were used in winter camps. Log lean-tos which held two families were used in more temporary camps. Bark-covered huts were constructed in fishing camps. Tanana Indians used birchbark or skin canoes for water transportation. Snowshoes and toboggans pulled by women were used for land travel. Tanana made clothing of tanned caribou decorated with shells and porcupine quills.
Each band had a chief and a “second chief” who, together, owned the caribou fences. The Tanana believed that shamans possessed supernatural powers. Illnesses were attributed to evil spirits which entered the body, and shamans possessed the power to remove them.
The first documented Tanana-white contact occurred around 1875 and was with trader-prospector A. C. Harper. Although non-Indian trade goods had already found their way into the area through Russian...
(The entire section is 338 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!