Mary Demientieff’s fish camp is a half-day’s paddle down the Yukon River from the village of Holy Cross. It is here that the river bends to the west and strikes out on its final 250 miles to the sea. It is this bend that creates the good eddies for the fishing, and every June, for almost 70 years, Mary has been making fish camp here. Now in her mid-eighties, she still comes out here each summer, even though her knees are no good now, nor her lungs, and even though she is rarely permitted to catch the king salmon any more.

Mary’s life is one that spans the modern history of Alaska. She was ...


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