Wave of the Sea-Wolf

The Wave of the Sea-Wolf by Jack Wisniewski is a beautifully-illustrated story with an important historical message. However, Wisniewski was a non-Native author, and while the story celebrates Tlingit culture and laments the destructive impact of Western contact, it is a bit careless in its use of Tlingit legend. In the book’s notes, Wisniewski admits that he uses the myth of Gonakadet (the seawolf) in an inaccurate way by attributing destructive earthquakes and tsunamis to his swimming routes.

Despite this, there is a relevant lesson to be taught from this book, which is based on a historical event involving a massive earthquake and French contact with the region. The story and its illustrations evoke some pretty powerful emotions concerning destruction and loss of culture. I thought it would be interesting to explore the changes contact brought to this region compared to other regions in Alaska, or the difference in impact between French, Russian, English contact, etc.

2 thoughts on “Wave of the Sea-Wolf”

  1. Tim,

    I believe you do well to note the discrepancies in the author’s vision of the story, but I like that you continue to find uses for the larger message in the classroom. The lesson sounds compelling in the way you can approach it and types of works you could associate with it (i.e. presentations, group projects, etc.) It would be great to see how you would do this in your real classroom.

  2. Well, at least he’s upfront about where he is being inaccurate!

    Also, I had no idea the French were ever over this far! I’d have enjoyed the book just for that reason.

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