‘Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir’ is about to be an audiobook

Ernestine Hayes and project director Scott Burton using a vocal booth to record the audiobook version of Hayes’ memoir, Blonde Indian. (Photo courtesy of Mandy Mallott)

More than 15 years after Ernestine Hayes’ published her memoir, “Blonde Indian” is becoming an audiobook.

Hayes says she clearly remembers when the book came out that a woman in Juneau told her that she couldn’t read it because of her eyesight.

“And I always kept that at the back of my mind,” Hayes said. “That an audiobook for people who weren’t able to read that size print or something like that, I would still love them to hear those stories.”

Hayes decided to narrate the book herself. She says that when she reads the print version of “Blonde Indian,” she sees so many things that she would tell her creative writing students not to do. But reading the book aloud for the recording was a different experience.

“I just enjoyed it, and experienced all of it again,” she said. “I was there with the cockroaches. I was hitchhiking on the old highway. I was on my way to Reno. It was all alive for me again.”

There will be a release party on Tuesday for the audiobook. Hayes and the production team will share stories and bloopers from the recording process. The event is free and open to the public, and for Hayes, it’s a way to say thank you to all of the people who have supported her, especially in difficult times.

“And I think that what we’re doing is we’re giving back to the community and thanking them for all the support and recognition and good wishes and goodwill that they’ve sent and the strength of that, that I received just from knowing I’m part of such a community,” she said.

Listen to an interview with Ernestine Hayes and the audiobook producers on Juneau Afternoon.

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