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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide
 

Alaska Native in Traditional Times: A Cultural Profile Project

as of July 2011

Do not quote or copy without permission from Mike Gaffney or from Ray Barnhardt at the Alaska Native Knowledge Network, University of Alaska-Fairbanks. For an overview of the purpose and design of the Cultural Profile Project, see Instructional Notes for Teachers.

Mike Gaffney

Congratulations – but don’t stop studying now!

 

If you are reading this, then you have completed your Cultural Profile Project or are very close to completing it. If you have dedicated the necessary time and effort to the required research and readings, then you know more about Alaska Native ethnohistory – that is, about Native life in traditional times then most Alaskans. And certainly more than nearly all people outside of Alaska. Congratulations!

Now let’s see why congratulations are in order. Although you worked on just one or two Native groups, the concepts and methods – the tools – you used for this research can be applied to the study of any Native group. The Cultural Profile Project’s outline, for example, provides you with a comprehensive guide – a road map – for the study of traditional Native life anywhere in Alaska. Most important, you now have the actual experience of bringing this outline to life with your own cultural profile work. You know what has to be done and how to do it. In fact, the outline can serve as a framework for studying the life of indigenous subsistence-based societies anywhere in the world. So don’t lose it. You may need it again.

Along with doing actual research, you were asked to think hard about the concepts and methods often used to study Native American history. You have contemplated the meaning of such terms as culture, tradition, ethnocentrism, tribe, aboriginal title, social stratification, assimilation, and even the concept of “Alaska Native.” You have been introduced to the variety of Alaska Native histories and cultures. You have explored the world of Native traditional technology, science, and art. And you have taken what amounts to a short course on Alaska Native historiography – the ways and means of studying Native history.

You have been asked, moreover, to contemplate how history has shaped current Alaska Native perspectives on the important civic issues facing their communities. Now, for example, You may be able to assist a tribe struggling with the research required for federal recognition. You may even have some good ideas about how to go about researching traditional Native use of the Outer Continental Shelf. If you spent some extra time on the several segments dealing with aspects of federal Indian law, then you join an even smaller group of Alaskans who know the fundamental principles of this very important American jurisprudence. Perhaps your cultural profile work has given you new ways of thinking about such highly publicized issues as regulating subsistence hunting and fishing, the powers of tribal governments in Alaska, or on the problems of law and order in rural Alaskan villages. So again, congratulations!

Are you now thinking any differently about your own educational future, maybe thinking about going on to college? Work on the Cultural Profile Project has given you important academic skills and insights. But there is so much more to know and to do. Have you developed an interest in Alaska history generally and in Native histories and cultures specifically? Or have you developed an broader interest in Native American history? Was your curiosity at all sharpened when we discussed Native peoples in other parts of the world? If so, what about pursuing comparative indigenous studies? If science is your academic interest, then what about working toward a degree in one of the natural sciences with an eye toward including traditional Native science as part of your program? We certainly know more about bowhead whale populations and behavior because traditional and modern science have finally formed a partnership.

These are just some of the possibilities in higher education if you have the desire to pursue them. It will be hard work. No question about that. But it will be an extended educational expedition well worth the effort. In some ways it will be an expedition to explore uncharted waters because the pace of social change has quicken just as changes in the planet’s climate have quicken, particularly in the Arctic. Who knows what lies ahead ten or twenty years down the road. Well, that’s not quite true. We do know that all of us will be better off if more young Alaskans – Native and non-Native – have the motivation and knowledge to smartly tackle the social, political, and environmental issues of the day and stand ready to confront issues yet to come. You are needed on this new expedition, so give it some serious thought. Thank you.

Mike Gaffney

Michael J. Gaffney
Emeritus Associate Professor
Alaska Native Studies
University of Alaska - Fairbanks


 

Bibliography
Cultural Profile Project

Alaska Native Cultures – General (Covers more than one cultural group)

Alaska Natives and the Land, Robert Arnold et al., Federal Field Committee for Development Planning in Alaska (Anchorage, Alaska, 1968). Online at: http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED055719.pdf

Note: This work includes extensive information on the physiography and climate of Alaska’s different regions and on traditional Native land use and occupancy within these regions. It’s findings provided baseline data for the Native regional land selections under ANCSA.

Michael E. Krauss, Alaska Native Languages: Past, Present, and Future. Research Paper No. 4 (Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska – Fairbanks, 1980).

Alaska’s Native People, Lael Morgan, Chief Ed. (Anchorage: Alaska Geographic Society, 1979).

– Iñupiaq/The Northern Eskimos, p. 49.
– Yup’ik/ The Western Eskimos, p. 95.
– Aleut/ People of the Aleutian Chain, p. 141.
– Koniag, Chugach, Eyak/ People of the Gulf Coast, p. 175.
– Athabascan/ People of the Great Interior, p. 195.
– Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian/ Indians of Southeastern, p. 229.

Steve Langdon, The Native People of Alaska (Anchorage: Greatland Graphics, 4th Ed., 2002).

Major Ecosystems of Alaska (Anchorage: Joint Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission for Alaska, 1973).

Native Peoples and Languages of Alaska, Map compiled by Michael E. Krauss, Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, 1982.

Anne Shinkwin, “Traditional Alaska Native Societies” in David S. Case, Alaska Natives and American Laws (1st Edition, University of Alaska Press, 1984) pp. 333-370.

Joan Townsend, “Ranked Societies of the Alaskan Pacific Rim,” Senri Ethnological Studies, 4, 1979, pp 123–156.

W. Fitzhugh, and A. Crowell (Eds.), Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska, (Washington D. C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1988).
Note: Be careful to distinguish references to Siberian people from Alaska Native people.

– I. S. Gurvich, “Ethnic Connections Across Bering Strait,” p. 17.
– William W. Fitzhugh, “Eskimos: Hunters of the Frozen Coasts,” p. 42.
– James VanStone, “Northern Athapakans: People of the Deer,” p. 64.
– Christy G. Turner II, “Ancient Peoples of the North Pacific Rim,” p. 111.
– Michael E. Krauss, “Many Tongues – Ancient Tales,” p. 145.
– Jean-Loup Rousselot, “Maritime Economies of the North Pacific Rim,” p. 151.
– James W. VanStone, “Hunters, Herders, Trappers, and Fishermen,” p. 173.
– William W. Fitzhugh, “Economic Patterns in Alaska,” p.191.
– Aron Crowell, “Dwellings, Settlements, and Domestic Life,” p. 194.
– Valérlie Chaussonnet, “Needles and Animals: Women’s Magic,” p. 209.
– Ernest S. Burch Jr., “War and Trade,” p. 227.
– William W. Fitzhugh, “Comparative Art of the North Pacific Rim,” p.294.

Frederick E. Hoxie, (ed.) The Encyclopedia of North American Indians (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996).

– Gorden L. Pullar, “Aleuts,” p. 19. [Includes Koniag, Alutiiq/Sugpiaq]
– Charles W. Smythe, “Eskimo (Yupik/Inupiat/Inuit),” p. 182.
– William E. Simeone, “Subarctic Tribes,” p. 611.
– Rosita Worl, “Tlingit,” p. 630.

R. Wolfe and L. Ellanna, Resource Use and Socioeconomic Systems: Case Studies of Fishing and Hunting in Alaskan Communities, ADF&G Division of Subsistence (March 1983).

Online Sources:

Alaska Native Knowledge Network – http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/index.html
Alaskool – http://www.alaskool.org/default.htm
Arctic Circle: History and Culture – http://arcticcircle.uconn.edu/HistoryCulture/
Project Jukebox (Native oral history) – http://jukebox.uaf.edu/
Traditional Whaling in the Western Arctic – http://www.uark.edu/misc/jcdixon/Historic_Whaling/index.htm
Alaska Native Language Center – http://www.uaf.edu/anlc/
Alaska Native Heritage Center – http://www.alaskanative.net/
Arctic Studies Center – http://www.mnh.si.edu/arctic/index.html

Iñupiaq

Ernest Burch Jr., The Traditional Eskimo Hunters of Point Hope, Alaska, 1800–1875. Barrow, Alaska: The North Slope Borough, 1981

------------------, “From Skeptic to Believer: The Making of an Oral Historian,” Alaska History, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 1991. Note: also online at: http://www.alaskool.org/projects/traditionalife/oralhistory/skeptic_ to_believer.htm

----------------, The Iñupiaq Eskimo Nations of Northwest Alaska (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 1998).

--------------- , Social Life in Northwest Alaska: the Structure of Iñupiaq Eskimo Nations (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2006).

Emily Ivanoff Brown, The Roots of Ticasuk: An Eskimo Woman’s Family Story, (Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Publishing Co., 1981)

Norman Chance, The Eskimo of North Alaska (New York: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston, 1966).

Linda J. Ellanna and George K Sherrod, From Hunters to Herders: The Transformation of Earth, Society, and Heaven Among the Iñupiaq of Beringia, Department of Anthropology, University of Alaska – Fairbanks, August, 2004.

Claire Fejes, People of the Noatak (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1966).

Don Charles Foote Collection, Archives, Alaska and Polar Regions (Rasmuson Library: University of Alaska – Fairbanks) See various field notes.

Nicholas Gubster, The Nunamiut Eskimos: Hunters of Caribou (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965).

Charles Lucier, James VanStone, Della Keats, “Medical Practices and Human Anatomical Knowledge,” Ethnology 10 (3), p 251.

Wendell Oswalt, Alaskan Eskimos (Scranton, PA.: Chandler Publishing Co., 1967)

NANA Elders’ Conference Collection. Typescript. (Kotzebue, Alaska, 1976).

NANA Cultural Heritage Project, 1975.

Richard K Nelson, Hunters of the Northern Ice (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1972).

William Oquilluk, People of Kauwerak: Legends of the Northern Eskimo (Anchorage: Alaska Pacific Univ. Press, 2nd Edition, 1981).

Dorothy Jean Ray, The Eskimos of Bering Strait, 1650-1898 (Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press, 1992)

Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 5, Arctic, edited by David Damas (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1984).

– Dorothy Jean Ray, “Bering Strait Eskimo,” p. 285
– Robert Spencer, “North Alaska Eskimo: Introduction,” p. 278.
– Ernest Burch Jr., “Kotzebue Sound Eskimo,” p. 303.
– Edwin S. Hall Jr., “Interior North Alaska Eskimo,” p. 338.

Siberian Yupik

Charles C. Hughes, “St. Lawrence Island Eskimo,” Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 5, Arctic, edited by David Damas (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1984). p. 262

Charles C. Hughes and Nathan Kakianak, Eskimo Boyhood, (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1974).

Central Yup’ik

A. Oscar Kawagley, Yupiaq Worldview: A Pathway to Ecology and Spirit. (Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press, 1995)

Lydia Black, “The Yup’ik of Western Alaska” in Inuit Studies, Vol. 8, 1984.

Margaret Lantis, (Ed.), Ethnohistory in Southwestern and the Southern Yukon: Method and Content. (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1970).

L. A. Zagoskin, Travels in Russian America, 1842-1844, edited by Henry N. Michael (Arctic Institute of North America, University of Toronto Press, 1967).

Richard A. Pierce (Ed.) The Journals of Iakov Netsvetov: the Yukon Years, 1845-1863. Translated, with introductory and supplementary material by Lydia Black (Kingston, Ontario: Limestone Press, 1984.

Ann Fienup-Riordan,, “Regional Groups on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta,” Études Inuit, 8, 1984.

----------------------- , “Robert Redford, Apanuugpak, and the Invention of Tradition” , Études Inuit, 11, 1987.

----------------------- , The Nelson Island Eskimo (Anchorage: Alaska Pacific Univ. Press, 1983)

-----------------------, “Eye of the Dance: Spiritual Life of the Bering Sea Eskimo,” in W. Fitzhugh, and A. Crowell, Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska, (Washington D. C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1988) p. 256.

Anne Shinkwin and Mary Pete, Yup’ik Eskimo Societies. Études/ Inuit/ Studies, Supplementary issue 8:95-112, 1984.

W. Fitzhugh, and S. Kaplan, Inua: Spirit World of the Bering Sea Eskimo, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982.

Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 5, Arctic, edited by David Damas (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1984):

– James W. VanStone, “Southwest Alaska Eskimo,” p. 205
– Margaret Lantis, “Nunivak Eskimo,” p. 209
– James W. VanStone, “Mainland Southwest Alaska Eskimo,” p. 224

James W. VanStone, Eskimos of the Nushagak River: An Ethnographic History (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1967.

Aleut (Unangan)

Lydia Black and R. G. Liapunova, “Aleut: Islanders of the North Pacific” in W. Fitzhugh & Crowell (eds.), Crossroads of Continents (Washington D. C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988) p. 52.

Waldemar Jochelson, History Ethnology & Anthropology of the Aleut, (University of Utah Press 2002)

Margaret Lantis, (Ed.), Ethnohistory in Southwestern and the Southern Yukon: Method and Content. The University Press of Kentucky, 1970,

------------------- “Aleut,” in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 5, Arctic, edited by David Damas (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1984) p. 161.

William S Laughlin, Aleuts: Survivors of the Bering Land Bridge. (New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1980).

Alutiiq (Sugpiaq, Pacific Eskimo)

Donald W. Clark, “Pacific Eskimo: Historical Ethnography,” Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 5, Arctic, edited by David Damas (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1984) p. 185.

Rachel Mason, The Alutiiq Ethnographic Bibliography (Fairbanks: Alaska Native Knowledge Network, 1995). Note: Ms. Mason’s article is more than a bibliography. It contains important information on Alutiiq culture and history. It is also online at: http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/ANCR/Alutiiq/RachelMason/index.html

Interior Athabaskan

Jean Aigner et al (eds.) Interior Alaska: A Journey Through Time (Anchorage: Alaska Geographic Society, 1986).

– William S. Schneider, “On the Back Slough,” p.147
– Richard K. Nelson, “Raven’s People,” p. 195

Ernest Burch Jr. and Craig Mishler, “The Di’haii Gwitch’in: Mystery People of Northern Alaska,” in Arctic Anthropology, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 147-172, 1995.

Robert A. McKennan, “The Chandalar Kutchin” Technical Paper no. 17, (Montreal: Arctic Institute of North America, 1965).

Richard K Nelson, Make Prayers to the Raven (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1983).

-------------------- , Hunters of the Northern Forest (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986)

------------------- , “Athapaskan Subsistence Adaptations in Alaska,” Senri Ethnological Studies, 4, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan, 1980, pp. 205-232.

Adeline Peter-Raboff, Inuksuk: Northern Koyukon, Gwich’in, & Lower Tanana, 1800-1901. ( Fairbanks: Alaska Native Knowledge Network, 2001.

James Van Stone, Athabaskan Adaptations (Chicago: Aldine Publishing) 1974.

Miranda Wright, The Last Great Indian War, Masters Thesis, (Fairbanks: University of Alaska, 1995).

Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 6, Subarctic, edited by June Helm (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1981).

– Edward H. Hosley, “ Environment and Culture in the Alaskan Plateau,” p. 533.
– Robert A. McKennan, “Tanana,” p. 562
– A. McFadyen Clark, “Koyukon,” p. 582.
– Jeanne H. Snow, “Ingalik,” p. 602

Southern Athabaskan

Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 6, Subarctic, edited by June Helm (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1981).

– Joan Townsend, “Tanaina,” p. 623
– Federica de Laguna, “Ahtna,” p. 641

Tlingit Frederica de Laguna, “ Tlingit” Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 7, Northwest Coast, edited by Wayne Suttles (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1990) p. 203.

------------------------, “Tlingit: People of the Wolf and Raven,” in W. Fitzhugh, and A. Crowell, Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska, (Washington D. C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1988).

------------------------, “Ceremonialism on the Northwest Coast,” in W. Fitzhugh, and A. Crowell, Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska, (Washington D. C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1988) p. 271.

Nora Dauenhauer, Richard Dauenhauer, Lydia Black (eds.) Anooshi Lingit Aani Ka, Russians in Tlingit America: The Battles of Sitka, 1802 and 1804, University of Washington Press, 2007.

Nora Dauenhauer and Richard Dauenhauer, Haa Shuka, Our Ancestors: Tlingit Oral Narratives (Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press, 1987).

George Thorton Emmons, The Tlingit Indians, edited by Federica de Laguna (Settle: University of Washington Press, 1991).

Bill Holm, Northwest Coast Indian Art, An Analysis of Form (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1965).

------------, “Art and Culture Change at the Tlingit–Eskimo Border,” in W. Fitzhugh, and A. Crowell, Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska, (Washington D. C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1988) p. 281.

Andrew Hope III and Thomas F. Thornton, Will the Time Ever Come: A Tlingit Source Book (Fairbanks: Alaska Native Knowledge Network, 2000).

Kalervo Oberg, The Social Economy of the Tlingit Indians (Seattle: Washington Univ. Press, 1973).

Eyak

Frederica de Laguna, “Eyak” Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 7, Northwest Coast, edited by Wayne Suttles (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1990) p. 189.

Haida

Margaret B. Blackman, “Haida: Traditional Culture,” in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 7, Northwest Coast, edited by Wayne Suttles (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1990) p. 240.

Mary Lee Stearns, Haida Culture in Custody (Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press, 1981).

Frederica de Laguna, “Ceremonialism on the Northwest Coast,” in W. Fitzhugh, and A. Crowell, Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska, (Washington D. C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1988) p. 271.

Tsimshian (Traditional times – British Columbia)

Marjorie M. Halpin and Margaret Seguin, “Tsimshian Peoples: Southern Tsmshian, Coast Tsimshian, Nishga, and Gitksan,” in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 7, Northwest Coast, edited by Wayne Suttles (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1990) p. 267.

NOTE: The Alaska Tsimshian came to Annette Island, Alaska in 1887. Therefore we must go back to their original homeland in British Columbia to learn about Tsimshian life in traditional times.

Table of Contents

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Last modified July 6, 2011