The Aleutian Solution
Alaska Gold: Life on the New Frontier
The Two Eskimo Boys Meet the Three Lucky Swedes
Port of Refuge:
Udaagamax (Stories from Alaska’s Marine Salvage Master)
by Dan Magone and Jeff Kunkel
Epicenter Press, early 2019)
Udaagamax is Unangan (Aleut) for “safe place to go.” The book will be published by Epicenter Press of Kenmore, Washington, in early 2019 and complemented with a traveling museum exhibition to open June 1, 2019.
This exhibition will be guest curated by Jeff Kunkel, originated by the Museum of the Aleutians, Unalaska, and will travel throughout Alaska and Pacific Northwest.
The man whose stories are featured in the book, co-author Dan Magone, has been saving troubled ships for forty years. A Marine Salvage Master working out of Dutch Harbor, Magone is so instrumental in solving marine problems in Western Alaska that the U.S. Coast Guard calls him “The Aleutian Solution.”
It’s a rugged part of the world. The Aleutian Islands are the longest small-island archipelago in the world, the volcanic peaks of a submarine mountain chain stretching from Alaska to Siberia, three hundred treeless islands, separating two of the coldest, stormiest, richest seas on the planet, the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea.
The main port of refuge in these remote islands is Dutch Harbor, Alaska – America’s busiest fishing port and home to hundreds of fishing vessels, including those featured on the long-running television series, Deadliest Catch.
In this new book (forthcoming in early 2019), you’ll meet “The Toughest Guys on Earth,” men who work on storm-tossed, ice-choked seas to rescue fishermen, pull ships off the rocks, raise sunken ships, put out fires, dive in 30-degree water, and much more. Author Dan Magone narrates these amazing stories, with help from co-author Jeff Kunkel, a California writer who has publisher several previous books about Alaskan history.
Life on the New Frontier
Letters and photographs of the McDaniel Brothers
by Jeff Kunkel, editor
Scottwall Associates, 1997
History • Letters & Photographs • Gold Rush Era in Alaska
This book presents the exploits of two brothers from San Jose, California, who went north from California to Alaska for the gold rush, based on their own journals, letters, and photographs from 1900–1906.
From an article in the Juneau Empire (Jan 20, 2000)
One hundred years ago, Wilfred and Edmund McDaniel left their California ranch and sailed north through rolling seas and ice floes to stake a claim on a Bering Sea beach near Nome. They spent the next six years as gold miners – making and documenting history.
Wilfred McDaniel was a talented photographer, and both brothers wrote and saved mementos of their experiences. The Alaska State Museum opens a new exhibit this week called “Alaska Gold: Life on the New Frontier.” More than 60 of McDaniel’s large-format photographs bring the brothers’ adventures to life. (. . .)
The exhibit includes vintage gelatin-silver prints, albumin prints and hand-colored prints, as well as prints made more recently from McDaniel’s original negatives, said Mark Daughhetee, Alaska State Museum curator. The brothers’ drawings, as well as letters and postcards are also included.
The brothers never made a major gold strike, but their steady work paid off. They left in 1906 with enough gold to pay off the mortgage on their parent’s San Jose ranch and establish themselves as contractors building homes in the Santa Clara Valley in California.
Jeff Kunkel was curator for the exhibit of photographs and keepsakes first developed for the California Historical Society in the mid-1990s. That led to his work to edit the book, Alaska Gold: Life on the New Frontier. The exhibit later toured to the Alaska State Museum.
The Two Eskimo Boys
Meet The Three Lucky Swedes
by Jeff Kunkel, with Irene Anderson
Sitnasuak Native Corporation, 2002
Alaska History • Nome gold discovery • Native (Inupiat) Culture • Scandinvanian miners in Alaska
In 2000, the Elders of the Sitnasuak Native Corporation in Nome, Alaska, met with Jeff Kunkel and told him a story. This story, known simply as The Two Eskimo Boys, had been told from generation to generation – but never written.
It is not only a story of two boys, but also the story of what happened to native culture during the “Stampede to Nome” in 1898, when tens of thousands of pioneer miners from all over the world arrived on Alaska’s Seward Peninsula to mine for gold.
Because of Jeff Kunkel’s earlier work with both the pioneer and native communites, the Elders asked him to write the story of the Two Eskimo Boys so that it could be more widely shared. Sitnasuak Elders and members Irene Anderson and John Apok, a brother of one of the Two Eskimo Boys, contributed much to the publication.
The Two Eskimo Boys is best told alongside a story known as The Three Lucky Swedes. These pioneer gold miners, John Brynteson, Erik Lindbolm, and Jafet Lindeberg, are written about extensively in pioneer history and memorialized in plaques, photographs – and a bronze statue in Nome’s town square.
In this book, The Two Eskimo Boys Meet The Three Lucky Swedes, the two stories come together as a fateful collision between two very different cultures, and today, a bronze statue of the Two Eskimo Boys has joined the bronze statues of The Three Lucky Swedes in Nome’s town square.
From the book’s introduction:
“The tale of the Three Lucky Swedes is a compelling story of luck, grit, dominance, and gain. It is the story of ambitious immigrants who became men of wealth, status, and power. It is the story of three unlikely men who set in motion the “Stampede to Nome.” There is another Seward Peninsula story which parallels and intersects the story of the Three Lucky Swedes. It is a story which is every bit as compelling though starkly different in detail, tone, and result. The main characters in this tale are two Inupiat Eskimo boys, Constantine Uparazuck and and Gabriel Adams. . . . It is a story of dislocation, accommodation, and loss. It is the story of two native boys who team up with The Three Lucky Swedes in the frenzy for gold.”
Jeff Kunkel is hoping to work with the Sitnasuak Elders on the publication of a children’s picture book, The Two Eskimo Boys.