Dreaming Bears is the true story of the rare friendship that develops between a young medical student with deep roots in the South and an elderly Indian couple in the wilds of northeast Alaska. In 196
Dreaming Bears is the true story of the rare friendship that develops between a young medical student with deep roots in the South and an elderly Indian couple in the wilds of northeast Alaska. In 1961, Mike Holloway, his brother Ted, and a college friend set out from South Carolina to spend the summer hiking in Arctic Alaska, intending to live off the land. They end up in the homeland of the Gwich'in - the northernmost Indians in North America. The young men charter a small plan into the isolated village of Venetie, where the tribal chief directs them to the remote cabins of Johnny and Sarah Frank. The elderly Gwich'in couple lived a thirty-five-mile walk from the village and more than a hundred air miles from the closest road. Johnny was a well-known storyteller and former medicine man. Sarah made their home welcoming with warm, calm kindness - her well-worn hands seldom idle. His rich encounters in Gwich'in country deepen Mike's love of wild land and his respect for those who depend upon it for their survival. The experience alters his life. Mike becomes the adopted grandson of Johnny and Sarah, returning to Alaska as a doctor and advocate for the land and its people.
View Biographical note
Mike Holloway was born in Greenwood, South Carolina. Summer trips to rural Alaska in 1961 and 1962 – begun as an adventure – led to his friendship with Johnny and Sarah Frank, and redirected his life. As an undergraduate, Mike attended The Citadel, where he was a member of the Junior Sword Drill. After completing medical studies in South Carolina and interning in Virginia, he became a doctor with the Peace Corps and then for the Bristol Bay Native hospital in Alaska. He returned to the South to complete a residency in orthopedic surgery. In 1973 he joined the orthopedic staff of the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) in Anchorage. In 1977 Mike took a year and a half break from orthopedics and worked as a subsistence advocate and Washington D.C.-village liaison for the Alaska Rural Community Action Program. He then returned to work at ANMC, where he served some years as Chief of Orthopedics and received a number of awards for his service. In 2001, Mike was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, ending his work at ANMC. Feeling that he still had much to offer, he taught orthopedics through Health Volunteers Overseas. Mike is married to Margie Gibson. Their home on a mountain slope near Indian, Alaska is often visited by bears.