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Blonde Indian book cover

Blonde Indian: an Alaska Native Memoir | Ernestine Hayes 

Complimentary copies will be provided to all New-Student Orientation attendees. Read the book, join the campus conversation!

Preview the book

Find a copy at the Egan Library

Read the eBook via the Egan Library (Ebrary collection, login with UAS username/password)


Told in eloquent layers that blend Native stories and metaphor with social and spiritual journeys, this enchanting memoir traces the author's life from her difficult childhood growing up in the Tlingit community, through her adulthood, during which she lived for some time in Seattle and San Francisco, and eventually to her return home. Neither fully Native American nor Euro-American, Hayes encounters a unique sense of alienation from both her Native community and the dominant culture. We witness her struggles alongside other Tlingit men and women— many of whom never left their Native community but wrestle with their own challenges, including unemployment, prejudice, alcoholism, and poverty.

“One of the most important books to come out of Alaska. There have been other great memoirs by Alaska Natives, but few if any have been made with such disarming humor, such bravery and such warmth.”  --The Anchorage Press

“This sometimes raw, consistently honest memoir is a rewarding, evocative, ultimately uplifting
view of Native life.” --Deborah Donovan, Booklist

Programs in development for AY 15:

  • Ernestine Hayes Keynote, Reception and Class visits
  • Library exhibit featuring manuscript, author's notes and correspondence from the memoir (currently housed in Egan Library Archives).
  • Native Voices Exhibition presented by National Library of Medicine @ Egan Library September-December 2015  
  • Program on homelessness, transition and housing in collaboration with the 360 North: A Roof project.
  • Tlingit Oratory:  UAS students presenting oratory of Tlinigit clan stories which serve as a departure point for sections of Hayes narrative. Other participants could respond to the ways in which stories differ between clans, how stories change over time, etc.  
  • Interested in learning more about the history of boarding schools in Alaska or sharing your story?  The  Juneau Public Library is collecting interviews for Storycorps: Alaska Native Educational Stories during 2015.    
  • Never Alone GAMING EVENT.  The connection between the book and the game would be Native Voices, using new platforms to tell traditional stories in order preserve indigenous language and culture for younger generations. UAS Gaming Club could host a tournament and invite an audience and we could assemble a panel featuring Ishmael HopeCook Inlet Tribal Council members and game designers from E-Line Media makers of the game Never Alone which is based on Inupiat stories. World class game makers paired with Alaska Native storytellers and elders to create a game which delves deeply into the traditional lore of the Iñupiat people to present an experience like no other.      

2015-16 Featured speakers COMING SOON:

One Campus, One Book is the common reading program at UAS-Juneau.  It's a celebration of literature and the relationships and communities that develop between readers and writers.  The program grew out of the Student Success Forum with the goal of helping foster community and compassion on campus.  The program's first year (2010) featured David Issay's Listening is an Act of Love and a corresponding campus oral history project ( The UAS Listening Project) collected the stories of students, faculty and staff.   In 2012 the program was formalized as a program of the Egan Library, a selection committee established and in 2013 these program goals and criteria were adopted.  


The UAS One Campus, One Book program will:

  • Begin an exploration of interdisciplinary approaches
  • Create opportunities for learning in and out of the classroom.
  • Foster student, staff and community participation and identification as contributing members of an intellectual community.
  • Promote reading and "foster a page-turning togetherness".*

       *based on DC We Read 2009

Criteria for book selection:

  • The extent to which the book matches program goals (touches on interdisciplinary perspectives and has the potential for integration into curriculum, is not too challenging in terms of reading level or topic).
  • Has the potential for a variety of related program (themes).
  • The book won’t have likely been assigned reading during high school.
  • Accessibility: The book is between 250-350 pages in length, engaging, college-level reading and not a text-book
  • Accessibility: is available currently in paperback
  • Accessibility: bulk ordering of the book won’t require a reprint of the title.
  • The author may be available to visit campus (within our modest budget).

Core Planning and Selection Committee:

AY15 (Fall 2014-Spring/Summer 2015).  Planning Meetings will be tentatively be held 3rd Fridays from 1-3pm.  (9/19, 10/17, 11/21, 1/23, 2/20, 3/13, 4/17)

Anne Wedler, Assistant Professor of Art, Co-chair

Jonas Lamb, Assistant Professor of Library Science/Public Services Librarian, Co-chair

Lisa Richardson, Assistant Professor of Education

Richard Simpson, Assistant Professor of Humanities

Katy Spangler, Professor of Education

Vacant, AY 14-15 Student Rep

Vacant, Spring 2015 Student Intern 

11:00 AM
New Valley Public Library (Community Room)

2015-16 Blonde Indian

If you are considering using Blonde Indian: an Alaska Native Memoir in your class or are interested in serving on the Planning and Selection Commitee please contact us.  We also have desk/review copies available.  

We will update this page with a bibliography of thematicly related books to compliment this year's selection and provide alternate sources for discussion in academic classes.    

Do you know of a great book that could create community and conversation on campus through the OCOB program? If so, the Selection Committee invites you to submit your idea for the next book.  We look forward to adding your nominations to the ongoing consideration pool.  Please keep in mind the program goals, selection criteria and we'd love to hear your ideas for related programming.  

For examples, check out the common reading suggestions from some publishers:
Random House 
Harper Collins 
National Association of Scholars 

Book Nomination Form


Internship Opportunities:

Interested in Interning with the OCOB program? Talk to your advisor and contact before 5/1/2015 (for Fall 15 internship)

The OCOB Student internship will provide students with experience in the management, marketing and promotion of arts and culture events by assisting in the production of the campus-wide common reading program, One Campus, One Book and related campus and community events. This internship will also incorporate independent networking around the City and Borough of Juneau with the purpose of determining how arts and culture organizations develop, budget, staff, coordinate logistics, and evaluate their programs and events.  Duties vary between Fall and Spring Internship opportunities and each interested student is encouraged to work with their faculty advisor and OCOB faculty sponsors to adapt the internship to meet their program needs.  The OCOB internship can be adapted to meet a variety of programatic needs including Humanities, Communication, English and more.  Student interns can also choose to enroll at either 291/391/491 levels and typically for 3 credits (requires 150 clock hours).  These internship opportunities are open until filled.  Deadline to apply for fall is May 1 of the prior year and the deadline for the spring internship is December 1.  

Objectives:  One objective of the internship will be to provide the student an opportunity to actively participate in the management, marketing and promotion of an arts and culture event.

Interns will:

  • Attend regular OCOB committee planning and other related meetings/trainings (budget/CMS). 
  • Review and critically evaluate potential book titles for selection
  • Assist in book orders and author visit planning
  • Create promotional materials, surveys and content for print, web (CMS training provided) and social media
  • Assist in event scheduling and event logistics.
  • Develop written and oral communication skills by discussing and promoting OCOB programs and events with students and in the community
  • Develop confidence and communication skills serving as coordinator of correspondence and communication with invited author, publisher and other guest speakers/performers.

Questions about the internship?  Contact Jonas Lamb ( or call 907-796-6440

Information about previous OCOB selections and links to audio/video when available.  

2014:  Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck

Steinbeck and Ricketts scholar Katie Rodger visited the Juneau campus for a series of class visits, reception and an Evening at Egan Lecture, 'Discovering Science: Finding the Story', Oct. 10th, 2014 [watch]  

Artist and socio-ecological activist Colleen Flanigan visited the Sitka and Juneau campuses for a series of class visits and presentations on Merging Art and Environmental Sciences.  

2013: At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson

Kij Johnson visited the Juneau campus for a series of class visits, the one-night only production of a staged reading and an Evening at Egan Lecture.

UAS Drama Club S.C.R.I.P.T performed "Finding True North", Nov. 6th 2013 [listen]
Kij Johnson presented and Evening at Egan lecture, Egan Library, Nov. 8th, 2013 [ watch]

Narrative Endeavors: Visual and Literary Art Exhibition.  One night only student art show with open mic and Google Hangout with Kij Johnson.  Downtown Gallery, April 4th, 2014.   

John Marzluff, author of Gifts of the Crow: How perception, emotion, and thought allow smart birds to behave like humans presented a different perspective on this year's OCOB theme of human-animal communication and communicating with the other at a Sound and Motion Lecture on April 18th, 2014.  

2012: Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer  

Karsten Heuer and Leanne Alison visited the Juneau campus for a series of lectures, film screening and classroom visits. Gwich’in elder Randall Tetlichi was elder-in-residence on the Juneau Campus and gave another perspective on related themes.

Gwich’in elder Randall Tetlichi presented an Evening at Egan lecture, Egan Library: Nov. 9th  2012 [watch ]
Leanne screened the related film, Egan Lecture Hall followed by a Q&A, Nov. 15th 2012 [watch]
Karsten presented an Evening at Egan lecture, Egan Library, Nov. 16th 2012 [watch]
Sarah Ray, OCOB 2012 Committee Chair

2011: The Truth About Stories by Thomas King

2010: Listening is an Act of Love by David Isay


Questions?  Contact Us! Content maintained by Egan Library.

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