I’ll Tell You a Story (Sukdu Neł Nuhtghelnek): Stories I Recall from Growing Up on Iliamna Lake

Front cover of Sukdu Nel Nuhtghelnek, featuring a photo of Iliamna Lake with an artist's depiction of a medicine man's fireball.

"When I was a child, my mother taught me only speaking in the Dena'ina language. And she told me stories. And that then is how I learned to speak the Dena'ina language. And now while you are still young, if you learn this, then you can teach other people when you get old." - Walter Johnson, 2004

Read This Book


Walter Johnson of Old Iliamna Village and Homer, AK is a multi-talented outdoorsman, musician, and expert in the Iliamna dialect of the Dena'ina Athabascan language. This is the first Dena'ina book to coordinate written text and sound. The stories presented here give a colorful portrait of early twentieth century Iliamna Dena'ina life skills and lore. The texts offer practical lessons in Dena'ina pronounciation, reading, and grammar. A CD accompanies this book, prepared by linguist James Kari with support from the National Park Service.


  • 1 - Dena'inaq' Ch'qenashi (Talking Dena'ina)
  • 2 - Annie Rickteroff Johnson, Shunkda Shin (My Mother, Annie Rickteroff Johnson)
  • 3 - Vighutiztin Hkaytaghi'u Ts'dults'iht (When We Stayed At Lonesome Bay)
  • 4 - Qunsha Uqu Ch'el'an (Ground Squirrel Hunting)
  • 5 - Ełyin Uqu Ch'ul'an (We Went For Spruce Hen)
  • 6 - Qutsaghił'iy Tlegha Uqu Nuqenk'ch'duttił (We Hunt For Seal Oil)
  • 7 - Gangi Ch'eł'ani (How We Use Ice Skates)
  • 8 - Chu Uqu Ch'el'an Łitl'enteh (Spring Beaver Hunting)
  • 9 - ghuzhaghałen Qanłnik'a (The Giant's Rock)
  • 10 - Slop Bucket Ti'inił (The Guy Dumping the Slop Bucket)
  • 11 - El'ekna Daz'a (The Medicine Men's Fire -The Fireball or Comet)
  • 12 - Tak'nelashen ch'u El'egen (The Priest and The Medicine Man)
  • 13 - Dghili Dnayi ch'u Q'ich'idya (The Mountain People and The Rock Rabbit)
  • 14 - Ch'ggagga Sukdu'a (Chickadee Story or The Woman Who Turned Into A Bear)

Publication Details

Author: Walter Johnson
Transcriber/Editor: James Kari
1st Edition Publisher: Alaska Native Language Center, 2004

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