George Attla, Spirit of the Wind

Fortunately, in my opinion, there is no illusion that George Attla will be beatified like Saint Susan and Saint Earl, so posterity will “know the real man” instead of a sanitized version. Many mushers and sled dog racing fans can recite his famous remarks and other quips from the movie Spirit of the Wind. Who said, “Between what you didn’t know and I didn’t know, I guess we came out even?” Was it George or Moses? “Are you going to listen to that silly white man nonsense on the radio or go caribou hunting?” Says George Sr. “But this is the Yankees against the Dodgers,” says the movie George.

And the book Bella Levorsen wrote with him…

I think a bunch of mushing axioms I heard first from Peter Norberg probably came from George.

There is a book about behavior and training, Don’t Shoot the Dog; Peter and George have both gone on, so… I will publish this one: Peter Norberg said, “don’t shoot the dog until you see him run.” If you don’t understand what that means and can’t learn something from it, you are not a competent musher.

My personal favorite anecdote and quip from George, I was not there so hearsay, was from an incident when David Kronfeld was visiting George and giving him unsolicited advice about diet and what to feed racing sled dogs. George listened politely (really?) while whittling on a stick. After Kronfeld had his say George replied, “In ten minutes I can whittle a veterinarian as good as you out of this stick of wood.” There was an ironic conclusion to this but leave it to another day.