Anchorage Museum
Dena'inaq' Huch'ulyeshi - The Dena'inaq Way of Living

K’qak’eliga / Love Song

Shem Pete composed this love song for a girlfriend in Tyonek in 1915 as he walked the trail between Tyonek and Susitna Station. Shem’s lyrics are about leaving her in Tyonek and wondering if she thinks about him in the evenings when she gets lonesome and remembers all the good times they had together. The song became well known to Dena’ina singers throughout the 20th century. Dick Mishakoff, originally from Kenai, recorded this version in 1961 in Tyonek.

Song courtesy of the Alaska Native Language Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Music for K’qak’eliga (Love Song). Music transcription by Thomas F. Johnston. Published in Shem Pete’s Alaska: The Territory of the Upper Cook Inlet Dena’ina (2003: 127) by James Kari and James A. Fall.

Alex and Xenia Kolyaha, Pedro Bay. Photograph courtesy Vernajean Kolyaha.