Guest Author - Dawn Engler
Tisha is the story of Anne Hobbs, a young teacher in the Alaska wilderness as told to author Robert Specht. The story begins at the point of her embarking on the journey to Chicken, through to the end of her first year as a school teacher. Her first days in the wild north, riding on the mules of a pack train, was the beginning of her realization that Alaska is not the easiest beauty to be handled. She is accepted well enough in the first days, but as she begins to stand up to some of the "ways" of the north, her enemies start to mount.
Schoolteachers in Alaska were desired by the communities, as long as they held to the standards of the locale they worked. In some cases, that meant following the rules to the letter, and in other cases, it meant to look the other way on a particular rule. This did not sit well with Tisha, and she fought against the system whenever she felt it was not just. This included not only her schooling of children and in some cases adults, but her personal life as well. In the early days of Alaska, the white man and his ideals overran the native Indians. The Indians were not deemed worthy of schooling, dating, or even looking at, in many cases. The half breed children that were born, mostly out of wedlock, were treated as badly, if not worse than the full blood Indians. Tisha did not like it and did quite a bit of butting heads to try and change the minds of the people who set the standards.
Chicken was a gold mining town during the long summer days and fur trapping was what kept everyone going through the winter. There were bi-monthly dances held at the school house. This was one of the ways the people could shake off the winter blues. Many hardships come with the cold. Having enough food long to last the winter. Keeping warm and bathing were difficult to manage. Blankets were literally stuck frozen to the walls in the mornings. Snow was melted down for all sorts of water uses. Try running a bath for self, using water a second time to wash your dishes, and a final time to scrub the floors! Don't know that I could do it. I've become accustomed to my clean showers!
Tisha is a great book to get an idea of what a person coming from the lower 48 has to endure to live and survive in Alaska. Be sure to have a warm blanket handy. You may get cold just reading about the winter!
I purchased my copy of this book with my own funds, sent it to my Mom, who passed it around, and back to me to read again. You can get yours here! Remember, purchasing through this link gets me a little commission for the sale!