A Round-Up about Our Whole Gwich’in Way of Life Has Changed / Gwich’in K’yuu Gwiidandài’ Tthak Ejuk Gòonlih

Life-stories of 23 Gwich’in Elders from the Northwest Territories in Canada speak to changing times.

Our Whole Gwich’in Way of Life Has Changed / Gwich’in K’yuu Gwiidandài’ Tthak Ejuk Gòonlih is one of the most important books the Press has published in recent years.


Our Whole Gwich’in Way of Life Has Changed is a remarkable collection of oral history and anthropology that should find a ready audience for anyone interested in Indigenous peoples, particularly those located in Arctic Canada…. The reader comes away from each chapter feeling newly connected to the storyteller and to the Gwich’in community. It is meticulously well documented…. Front- and back-end appendixes and materials provide a beautiful introduction and rich context for the reader… Highly recommended. All levels.” CHOICE Magazine [Also named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title]

“I can easily anticipate that this book will be used in an education setting by the nation…. It will also be of interest to anyone interested in the Gwich’in nation, Gwich’in history, and colonialism in the Arctic. Given the rapid pace of change in the last century or so, quite often the histories provided by the Elders document a huge part of the history of colonization in the North, with many of the Elders in question being amongst the last generations to live for at least part of their life without significant outside influence or change.” Daniel Sims, The Ormsby Review [Full article]

“This book captures the joys and struggles of individual Gwich’in women and men who came of age in the first decades of the twentieth century. Their stories convey, with great emotion and poignancy, the extraordinary corpus of skills and knowledge required in not only surviving but thriving in a northern environment.” Robert Jarvenpa, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, SUNY Albany

“This book is a valuable and important collection of Gwich’in Elders’ life stories that adds much to the growing literature focused on Indigenous narratives, rarely heard in Canada.” Thomas D. Andrews, Adjunct Professor, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Saskatchewan

“In crafting each Elder’s narrative–working from oral recordings to written English–McCartney chose to use an ‘impressionist approach’ in which the writing focus is on the researcher as storyteller, thus allowing the author (McCartney) to provide contextual information in a story format along with detailed descriptions in the Elder’s own words. While necessarily several steps removed from the voices of individual Elders, I found this technique effective in unifying the text for a broad and varied audience…. Readers like myself unfamiliar with the Gwich’in homeland are given clear guides to the rich history of the Gwich’in world. And Gwich’in readers, both young and old, are presented with an accessible account of twentieth century life along the Peel River, Arctic Red River, and lower MacKenzie River.” Ann Fienup-Riordan, Alaska History, Fall 2021

“[Elders] recall the sound of sled dogs galloping through the snow, the blue gleam of moonlight in winter and smell of fresh caribou steaks drying on spruce boughs…. Their stories are chronicled in Our Whole Gwich’in Way of Life Has Changed, a big, beautiful volume. It is warm and human.” Blacklock’s Reporter [Full article]


Scholarly and Academic Book of the Year | Alberta Book Awards

Oral History Association Book Award

Labrecque-Lee Book Prize, Commended

AUPresses Book, Jacket, & Journal Show – Scholarly Typographic [Alan Brownoff, designer]