Recent Submissions

  • Indigenous self-determination in co-production of knowledge

    Rudolf, Margaret Hope Cysewski; Trainor, Sarah; Hirsch, Alexander; Hum, Richard; Topkok, Sean Asikłuk (2023-12)
    Analyzing and comprehending co-production of knowledge (CPK) in the context of working with Arctic Indigenous communities on climate change research is the main goal for this interdisciplinary doctoral dissertation. CPK is shared decision-making on every step of the research process with research partners from communities, agencies, or organizations. CPK with Arctic Indigenous communities requires dedicated consideration of equity, ethics, cultural worldviews, and colonization. Key concepts from Indigenous critical methodologies are used to analyze both the CPK theory and implementation. CPK has the potential to be an ethical space to question the status quo of research processes and support Indigenous self-determination. Critiquing NSF's Navigating the New Arctic as a case study, there were many missteps in not following CPK in the development of the program and projects, along with not following United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples' Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (Ch. 2). There are significant lessons to be learned from the literature on collaborative methodology, including Indigenous methodologies. Through synthesis work, a model was developed compiling factors of success to achieving CPK along with a discussion of perspectives on those factors and success metrics. The objective of the synthesis work is the development of tools to support transparent communication and co-design of research projects (Ch. 3). CPK happens in-between the boundaries of disciplines, cultures, and science-policy-community. Thirteen experts in boundary spanning co-produced lessons-learned and recommendations based on their expertise and experiences. The project co-produced strategies to overcome funding barriers and the cultural divide to Alaska Native communities utilizing a boundary analysis framework (Ch. 4). Applying the CPK and boundary spanning concepts, themes of success in improving Arctic observing were developed from homogenous focus groups. With thirty-four participants representing scientists, science coordination experts, policy experts, and Indigenous community leaders and scholars, co-analysis was impractical. Following the Rapid Assessment Process utilizing focus groups, themes of success and corresponding science and Indigenous perspectives were developed (Ch. 5).
  • Preserving reflections of ourselves: the past, present, and future of Alaska's museums

    Linn, Angela J.; Ehrlander, Mary; Koskey, Michael; Jonaitis, Aldona (2023-12)
    While museums are very good at collecting, preserving, documenting, and interpreting the histories of our communities, we have not done a very good job with our own histories. No comprehensive publication holistically examines the development of museums in Alaska, let alone looks critically at the "big three" (Alaska State Museums, University of Alaska Museum of the North, and the Anchorage Museum) with a goal of establishing a connection between the historical context, the individuals who shaped those museums, and the institutions' current states of being. This dissertation uses the academic fields of history, museology, and ethnography to discover and analyze how we find ourselves in the current state, while offering suggestions for moving ahead in a positive way. In this dissertation I examine the past, present, and future of Alaska's museums. I do this by first assembling a more complete history of the "big three" using archival primary sources, published literature, and interviews. Second, I examine the current state of museums with their strengths and challenges through a combination of literature review, interviews, surveys, and participant observation. Finally, I consider the way Alaska's museums might respond to the changes facing museums around the world by reflecting on current museological literature, current events, and examining two case studies based on my work at the University of Alaska Museum of the North located on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
  • An odontometric biodistance analysis of the Rong and the A'chik

    Stough, Mary Ashley; Hemphill, Brian E.; Reuther, Joshua D.; Drown, Devin M. (2023-08)
    Little is known about the population history and genetic affinities of many of the tribal groups of northeastern India, including the Rong and the A'chik. Previous linguistic and genetic studies have suggested that these non-Hindu tribal groups may be descendants of East Asian immigrants. Due to the linguistic and genetic research, cultural differences between the groups, and geographic barriers it was hypothesized that members of these two tribal groups share a population history different from that of ethnic groups of other regions of the subcontinent. This study employs tooth size allocation analysis to test hypotheses concerning the origins of the Rong and the A'chik as well as the nature and extent of odontometric variation found among members of both tribes. The author took measurements of the mesiodistal and buccolingual dimensions of the permanent teeth among 166 A'chik and 185 Rong individuals. The author compared the aforementioned data with measurements obtained among 1,151 members of seven ethnic groups from other regions of South Asia. Group centroids from canonical variates analysis were plotted in three dimensions to assess patterns of similarities among samples. Canonical variates, from both sex-pooled and non-pooled analyses, identify the Rong and A'chik as possessing closer affinities to each other than to members of the other groups, thereby supporting the hypothesis of separate population origins from members of other South Asian ethnic groups. Overall, the results suggest the Rong and A'chik have a different geographic origin than, and little admixture with, the other population groups from elsewhere on the subcontinent.
  • Chukchi communities of the Bering Strait region, a hundred years after Bogoras

    Zdor, Eduard; Yamin-Pasternak, Sveta; George, John C.; Koester, David; Plattet, Patrick; Schweitzer, Peter (2023-05)
    The Chukchi are the Indigenous people of the farthest northeastern part of Eurasia, nowadays called Chukotka. It happens that, at the dawn of the 20th century, Chukchi culture became the focus of a landmark publication The Chukchee, authored by a luminary Russian ethnographer Waldemar Bogoras. Produced as part of the special series Publications of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, this voluminous monograph, overwhelmingly, continues to be a go-to resource to learn about the Chukchi customs, spiritual beliefs, material culture, and way of life. As an Indigenous Chukchi scholar who, to my knowledge, is the first of my people to be earning a doctorate degree in anthropology, I find it valuable to present a contemporary ethnographic portrait of the Chukotkan communities, drawn from my lived experience and the field research conducted a little over a century past the time of Bogoras. Featuring insights from several towns and villages, this dissertation focuses mostly on the Chukchi communities of Neshkan and Enurmino located on the Arctic Coast of Chukotka. Traditional subsistence continues to be a great factor in shaping the identity and worldview of the Neshkan and Enurmino residents. Subsistence, however, is not the only source of influence that builds the sociocultural pattern of these communities. Today's Chukchi are complexly integrated within a global society that permeates even seemingly the most remote and isolated settlements with information technologies. The clash of influences gives rise to a complex pattern of human passions and life goals. Exploring the socio-economic, spiritual, and other cultural dimensions of contemporary Chukchi life, my research converges on the question: what are the modern-day Chukchi communities? By what means do these social units sustain a strong sense of distinct cultural identity as their members adapt to globalizing influences and environmental changes? Such questions are broadly applicable across social and historical contexts and offer fruitful grounds for considering anthropological theories of adaptation and culture in the largest sense.
  • Sled dogs as gifts. An ethnography of dog exchanges among kennels in Alaska.

    Cruz, Allison K.; Plattet, Patrick; Yamin-Pasternak, Sveta; Koester, David (2022-12)
    This thesis investigates the social relationships that develop through the circulation of sled dogs among Alaskan kennels. It is based on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork at racing events, in sled dog kennels, as well as semi-structured interviews around Fairbanks. The research is informed by anthropological literature on kinship, personhood, and gift-giving economies. It examines how sled dogs are acquired and exchanged in Alaska and offers a novel perspective on the value of dog bloodlines and the relationships that unite breeders, mushers and sled dogs. The main argument is that Alaskan sled dogs are exchanged as gifts (rather than commodities) with the result that sled dog exchanges reestablish social connections between two or more kennels through the passage of the animals and their blood. The possession and ownership of specific bloodlines carries not only the genetic characteristics of the sled dog breed, but also the accomplishments of the breeder's kennel. The exchange of dogs ensures a continued cycle of interactions and cooperation within the dog mushing community. This continued cycle of dog exchanges allows for kennels to further develop and continue their breed in the mushing community. The overall findings of this work show that sled dogs, as relational gifts, are central figures within the mushing community and play a key role in creating multifaceted connections within and among kennels in Alaska.
  • Some trends in non-native adaptation in villages along the Kobuk and Koyukuk Rivers in northwest Alaska

    Keim, Frank J. (1973-05)
    Non-Natives living in isolated village settings in Alaska have traditionally been Ignored in anthropological investigations. These non-Natives are the subject of this thesis. It is a preliminary treatment of the adjustments they must make as newcomers to a cultural environment that is at first unfamiliar to them. As a result of these adjustments ,• the newcomers develop a different approach to life, one which includes a blend of elements from both their own culture and that in which they find themselves as strangers. The thesis also briefly discusses these non-Natives as change agents in the modification of the life patterns of the Native people among whom they live. Finally, the thesis suggests tentative guidelines for the recruitment of bush personnel in Alaska.
  • Northern Dene astronomical and sky-related knowledge: a comparative anthropological study

    Cannon, Chris M.; Plattet, Patrick; Holton, Gary; Koester, David; Shoaps, Robin (2021-12)
    The sky and its contents are routinely overlooked in Northern Dene ethnology as a meaningful part of linguistic and cultural knowledge. However, more than 11 years of primary fieldwork learning with and from elders, speakers, and culture bearers from 12 Northern Dene groups across 32 communities in Alaska and Canada has shown that astronomical knowledge is deeply rooted in both practical and sacred ways of knowing. With a focus on detail and breadth, this comparative ethnological study utilized an experience-based approach to investigate the ways in which Northern Dene Peoples perceive, conceptualize, and integrate the sky and its contents into systems of knowledge, practices, worldview, cosmology, and spirituality. At the center of these knowledge systems is a principal constellation often identified as the incarnated spirit of a Traveler-Transformer figure who circled the world in Distant Time. Although this Traveler is widely known in Dene mythology as the one who instilled balance and order in the world, his enigmatic transformation to the sky was traditionally known by spiritually gifted people. The "Traveler" constellation is not only a world custodian and archetype of an idealized medicine person, but it is also a teacher, ally, game keeper, and the embodiment of the world. Taken together, the Traveler on earth and in the sky provides a powerful conceptual model for behaviors and actions as a central organizing principle and locus of indigenous Northern Dene worldview, cosmology, and spirituality. Two other subsequent chapters focus on general concepts of stars, minor constellations, and the use of stars in time-reckoning, weather forecasting, and wayfinding. These are followed by a chapter pertaining to the sun and moon as animate and personified beings that also embody fundamental models for proper behaviors and actions. The final chapter, prior to the conclusion, centers on socio-cosmic relationships between the Dene and a host of highly sentient atmospheric phenomena that bridge the divide between the upper cosmos and the lived world of humans. Collectively, this work underscores that the earth and sky are not exclusive of one another but are part and parcel to a unified Northern Dene cosmology and worldview that are deeply grounded in relational significances. This is among relatively few book-length studies in anthropology on the indigenous astronomical knowledge, perceptions, and practices of any extant culture in the world.
  • Historical archaeology of Marion Creek, Alaska: placer gold mining and the capitalist world-system

    Whitney, James W. (2009-05)
    "Archaeological investigations of two placer gold mining sites on Marion Creek, Alaska, a tributary of the Koyukuk River, challenge the myth of the independent prospectors of the last frontier and reveal their dependence on the capitalist world-system. The Grassy Mound Cabin site (CHN-024) consists of a small cabin and trash scatter representing individual placer mining dated to the first decade of the 20th century. The Marion Creek Mining Complex site (WIS-286) is a multi-feature site reflecting capital and labor-intensive mining from multiple occupations during the first and second decades of the 20th century. The historical context of gold mining in the Koyukuk district is reconstructed from historical documents, exploring the process by which Alaska was incorporated into the capitalist world-system. Functional analysis of the assemblages and application of the Commodity Flow Model demonstrate how material culture and site economy changed as investments of capital and labor increased"--Leaf iii
  • Mapping moose: moose as a proxy for humans in the mapping of stable isotope values in the Tanana Valley, Alaska for forensic purposes

    Dewey, Kathryn K. (2009-08)
    "There are currently 100,000 open missing persons cases and 40,000 sets of unidentified human remains in medical examiners' offices across the nation. Stable isotope analyses can serve as a first line of inquiry to narrow down the possible region of origin for skeletal remains. The analysis of the variation between the isotope ratios of oxygen (¹⁸O/¹⁶O) is of particular value for this purpose. Local water resources determine body [delta]¹⁸O and these values should remain predictable for local fauna and humans. This study fills a void in the isotopic record of interior Alaska. It provides an updated predictive [delta]¹⁸O model for Alaskan drinking water ([delta]¹⁸Owater) and a predictive [delta]¹⁸O model for Alaskan moose ([delta]¹⁸Omoose). A statewide [delta]¹⁸Owater predictive surface was created from collaborative data and this surface was then used in conjunction with sampled [delta]¹⁸Omoose values to create a statewide [delta]¹⁸Omoose predictive surface. These predictive models can in turn be useful for identifying geographic origin of human remains in forensic cases because both [delta]¹⁸Omoose and [delta]¹⁸Ohuman values should approximate the local [delta]¹⁸Owater values with similar fractionation effects"--Leaf iii
  • Places of significance in Itelmen country: sacredness, nostalgia and identity in Kamchatka, Russia

    Degai, Tatiana S. (2009-08)
    "This research was conducted among Itelmen people, a small indigenous group who live on the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Far East. The thesis explores places of significance and sacred places of Itelmens who traditionally occupied most of the peninsula. At present the majority live on the Western coast of Kamchatka on the Okhotsk Sea shore. Providing some historical background, outcomes of colonization and western presence, and description of contemporary Itelmen worldview, this study offers an overview of Itelmen concepts of perceiving, knowing, appreciating and "animating" places. These concepts are formed primarily on the basis of a sense of loss of the villages during the relocations of 1950s-60s, a sense of admiration of nature, a sense of respect of ancestral knowledge associated with their lands, a sense of fear and respect of the spirits inhabiting the places and other aspects of landscape animation. Through the examples of indigenous peoples' initiatives this thesis also provides the groundwork for demonstrating the usefulness of the study of places of significance and sacred sites as negotiations take place between Itelmens and the government over native lands"--Leaf iii
  • Human paleoecology from the late glacial to early holocene, Tangle Lakes, Alaska

    Darcy, Audra J.; Reuther, Joshua D.; Bigelow, Nancy H.; Clark, Jamie L. (2021-08)
    This study examines paleoenvironmental change from the Late Glacial to the Early Holocene in the Tangle Lakes region of interior Alaska to explore changes in resource distribution and impacts on prehistoric hunter-gatherer subsistence patterns in upland settings (>500 masl). In interior Alaska, prehistoric hunter-gatherer subsistence economies were organized around the procurement of large herbivores (bison, caribou, elk, and moose), which were primarily regulated by habitat availability. Changes in habitat availability altered the distribution of key faunal resources, necessitating shifts in land-use strategies. The palaeoecological record from Glacier Gap helps contextualize resource distribution within dynamic landscapes by identifying changes in habitat availability for grazing, mixed-feeding (bison, caribou, elk), and browsing (moose) herbivores. This study applies pollen analysis, as well as carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis, of lake and peat deposits to reconstruct paleoenvironmental change from ~14,000 to ~6,000 Cal yr. BP. Results indicate grazing habitats persisted until approximately ~13,500 Cal yr. BP, which allowed for initial expansions of bison and elk, but habitats became mixed following the appearance of birch shrubs. Existing archaeological data indicate that initial use of upland regions coincided with expansion of bison and elk habitat, which would have represented large-bodied, predictable sources of food. As shrubs continued to expand, grazing and browsing habitats became increasingly fragmented in a mixed-feeding period between ~13,000 to ~10,000 Cal yr. BP. Fragmentation of bison and elk habitats made these species less predictable on the landscape, which likely led to the abandonment of the Tangle Lakes. A shift from mixed-feeding to browsing habitats occurred following the Holocene Thermal Maximum at ~10,000 Cal yr. BP with increasing shrub growth and the expansion of peat, supporting caribou and moose populations. Settlement patterns indicate re-occupation of the Tangle Lakes, and intensified use of uplands, when browsing specialists became more predictable, and subsistence focus shifted to the procurement of caribou ~6,000 Cal yr. BP. Taken together, grazing and browsing habitats represent homogeneous environments where resources were more abundant and predictable for hunter-gatherers, while mixed-feeding habitats represent heterogeneous environments where herbivores were fragmented and less abundant or predictable on the landscape.
  • The visual language of Turkish roman dance

    Carter, Bethan J.; Shoaps, Robin; Plattet, Patrick; Yamin-Pasternak, Sveta (2021-08)
    Utilizing Peircean semiotics and Dell Hymes' Ethnography of Communication, this research analyzes the dance style known as Roman havasi or, Turkish Roman dance. Elements and influences under consideration include costuming, dance vocabulary, musical instruments and traditions, gender-based stylistic differences, spheres of performance, audience member and participant demographics, and notions of authenticity in embodiment and presentation. An abridged history of the Roman is also presented, including public policies that influence the rights and lifestyle of Turkish Roman, as such factors have influenced their sense of social belonging as well as their dance and musical expressions. Romani people have experienced marginalization wherever they have immigrated, and scholarship regarding them has not always been beneficial. This thesis aims to increase the visibility, recognition, and appreciation of their culture. Research data was collected via participant observation as a Turkish Roman dance student and performer in Anchorage, Alaska, and from structured interviews with instructors and performers. Video footage was also gathered for analysis and was obtained by the author or via public domain websites. This thesis is accompanied by a collection of video clips featuring various elements of Turkish Roman dance referenced herein, and is available as supplemental material.
  • Contextualizing the development of coastal adaptations in postglacial Southeast Alaska

    Schmuck, Nicholas S.; Reuther, Joshua; Clark, Jamie; Baichtal, James F.; Holliday, Vance T.; Plattet, Patrick (2021-05)
    The goal of this dissertation is to improve our understanding of human population expansions into unfamiliar environments, focusing on when and how humans adapted to the rich coastal landscape of Southeast Alaska. Investigation of the peopling of this region has been overshadowed by the broader narrative that the Americas may have been first colonized by a late Pleistocene coastal migration. Refinements to local sea-level and paleoecological chronologies help contextualize the dynamic landscape that these first inhabitants might have encountered, returning focus to the archaeology of Southeast Alaska itself. This research considers existing archaeological data within the theoretical framework of Human Behavioral Ecology, proposing new models to acknowledge the process of landscape learning. Landscape learning provides a mechanism for exploring human adaptation to unfamiliar landscapes, which in turn produces testable hypotheses based on the familiarity of colonizing human foragers with coastal environments. Systematic sourcing of obsidian microblade cores, ubiquitous in early Holocene sites, allows for a further assessment of landscape learning, alongside an evaluation of the relationship between local raw material constraints and technological organization. Though the oldest known archaeological sites in Southeast Alaska are firmly dated to between 10,500 and 10,000 cal BP, older occupations have been identified elsewhere on the Northwest Coast, and Tlingit and Haida oral histories record their presence on the landscape from Time Immemorial. Taken together, multiple lines of evidence point to an initial colonization of Southeast Alaska out of eastern Beringia, occurring prior to the occupation of the oldest known sites. By the early Holocene, foragers with a typical Northwest Coast diet were readily adapting to, but still in the process of learning, this complex coastal landscape. While these results challenge the long-established impression that the oldest known sites in the region represent a remnant population of maritime sea-mammal hunters descended from an earlier coastal migration into the Americas, this research highlights the opportunity to continue testing these hypotheses by targeting older, uplifted paleoshorelines.
  • Ethnoarchaeology of the middle Tanana Valley, Alaska

    Smith, Gerad M.; Reuther, Joshua; Kari, James; Holmes, Charles; Hanson, Diane (2020-12)
    This study explores the shifting anthropological constructs of identity for the Middle Tanana people through time. It first summarizes this theme through contemporary regional Native American internal and external influences. A discussion is then given on how these constructs became formed through historical processes. Next, it provides an in-depth look into how identity became shaped prior to the Euro-American influence through an ethnographic reconstruction. These are framed in a way to form relevant hypotheses to study the regional prehistoric archaeological record. The Historical Linguistics analytical approach used here confirms that there is very little, if any, evidence in the languages of the Tanana Valley from any non-Dene or other hypothetical pre-existing linguistic group. Language forms an integral unit of community identity. This study also frames the linguistic argument for deep regional cultural antiquity and identity through an extensive survey of traditional place names. A brief comparative study of the processes and effects of the incursion of the Indo-European languages into traditional Dene territory is discussed to demonstrate this argument. Next, the research explores the middle and later Holocene archaeological record of the Shaw Creek basin, located deep within the Middle Tanana homelands, using innovative approaches framing traditional Optimal Foraging theory arguments through the lens of Complexity theory. It focuses on the household archaeology and spatial artifact analysis of two archaeological sites, Swan Point (three Holocene components) and Pickupsticks (one Holocene component). In these case studies, cultural identity analogs, social structure, and agency are discussed using the material cultural record as a proxy. Finally, a dynamic, seasonal, ecological landscape-use model informed by predator/prey interactions is used to inform hypothetical human foraging movements. It models decision-making and risk-mitigation processes through resource shortfalls, predicting raw materials' movements from their source locations to their discard locations at these two archaeological sites. The conclusions support the theory that Dene presence in the Middle Tanana Valley is an ancient phenomenon that has at least early Holocene roots. Further, the period between 2,000 and 1,000 years ago appears to have been a critical period of additional cultural intensification processes. The processes leading to the development of the Athabascan archaeological tradition are considered to be the result of demographic expansion, increased territoriality, and a critical reinterpretation of the roles of kinship and non-related partnerships.
  • The Yup'ik relationships of qiluliuryaraq (processing intestine)

    Carrlee, Ellen; Schweitzer, Peter; Koester, David; Lee, Molly; Hill, Erica; Plattet, Patrick (2020-12)
    This project explores multiple Native cultural contexts that intersect in the use and understanding of intestine. Gut (tissues of internal organs including stomach, intestine, bladder and esophagus) as a raw material was historically used by many circumpolar cultures to make items like drums, raincoats, hats, windows, sails, containers, and hunting floats. These items are abundant in museum collections, but rarely seen today in cultural practice or the art market. Intestine is a natural material that was replaced by synthetic materials, but its dual physical properties of protection and permeability are the only features replicated by plastics. Examination of intestine as an obsolete material reveals both changes and resilience in different kinds of relationships. Emphasizing the meaning and materiality of gut over analysis of artifacts made from it emphasizes interactions among human, animal, and spiritual beings over formalistic approaches privileging object interpretations. Preferential investigation of a raw material over finished artifacts focuses the study on actions and values in Native places. Fieldwork components for this study include documentation of indigenous gut processing, sewing and repair workshops in museum contexts, processing fresh intestine in the Yup'ik village of Scammon Bay, and discussion of gut with Yup'ik cultural experts. The theoretical approach uses Actor-Network Theory (ANT) as a foundation, animated with practice theory and relational ontology. Since ANT creates space for human, animal, and object agency, reciprocal relationships among these actors will be explored through frameworks of materiality, object biography, gender studies, animal personhood, and the gift. This endeavor may promote a new model for the use of material culture to illuminate Native values. In the case of intestine, its decline in use connects to changes in technology and spirituality while resilience and revitalization of gut technology promotes identity and demonstrates traditional values.
  • Archaeology at Teklanika West (HEA-001): an upland archaeological site, central Alaska

    Coffman, Samuel C. (2011-12)
    This thesis research involved a reinvestigation of the Teklanika West (HEA-001) archaeological site, central Alaska. It focused on understanding and expanding upon the site formation processes, dating, and characterizing cultural components at the site. Analyses were designed to address the preceding research purposes, while inter-relating research objectives. Twelve and a quarter square meters were excavated within five blocks located across the site. These excavation blocks yielded dateable materials in clear association with chipped-stone technology. Both environmental and cultural data obtained at the site have produced a more complex understanding of the site and surrounding landscape. Multiple components ranging in age from the late Pleistocene through late Holocene are represented at the site. Lithic analyses indicate a wide variety of lithic reduction occurring within components; ranging from biface production to late-stage weapons maintenance. Faunal remains from the oldest components consisted of bison, while the mid-late Holocene components consisted of caribou and sheep, respectively. All these data indicate that the upper Teklanika River valley was deglaciated by the late Pleistocene, allowing humans access to animals, new travel routes, and raw material resources.
  • Human and ecological responses to the Northern White River Ash eruption

    Smith, Holly A.; Reuther, Joshua; Bigelow, Nancy; Clark, Jamie (2020-05)
    The White River Ash northern lobe (WRAn) volcanic eruption deposited a blanket of tephra (volcanic ash) along the Yukon-Alaska border ~1625 cal BP (calibrated years before present). Currently, there has been limited investigation into the effect of this natural disaster on the environment and local hunter-gatherer populations. This research seeks to analyze and explore the potential ecological and cultural responses to the WRAn event. To address this question, paired archaeological and palynological studies bracketing the WRAn were conducted. Excavations at the Forty Mile/Ch'ëdä Dëk Territorial Historic Site in the Yukon (LcVn-2) revealed a multicomponent site including cultural deposits dating to approximately 1500 and 2000 years ago, with a band of WRAn ash separating them. The focus of the project was to identify similarities and differences in artifactual and faunal assemblages and feature types between cultural occupations pre- and post-tephra deposition that could indicate variations in site use, hunting practices, and tool manufacture. A decadal-scale pollen analysis spanning ~80 years before and after the WRAn tephra fall was conducted on a lake core collected near Eagle, Alaska, to explore the potential environmental impacts of the tephra deposition on the landscape. Results from this project suggest that the WRAn eruption did not create a prolonged negative environmental or cultural impact. At the study location, which experienced at least ~1 cm of tephra deposition, there is a prompt reoccupation of the Forty Mile Site, with multiple subsequent occupations, displaying a resilient population that was able to adapt to the fluctuating environmental surroundings. Similarly, the pollen displays a period of ~5 years of reduced influx and productivity, followed by spikes of abundance before returning to pre-eruptive comparable levels ~35 years after the WRAn. In this thesis, I argue that no hiatus in cultural occupation occurs following the WRAn tephra deposition and the archaeological assemblage displays characteristics in accordance with general cultural transitions occurring in southwestern Yukon and interior Alaskan archaeology.
  • Zooarchaeological analysis at 49-RAT-32: historical ecology and maritime subsistence in the late Aleutian period

    Sippel, Kevin M.; Clark, Jamie; Reuther, Joshua; Rogers, Jason (2020-05)
    This thesis utilizes a zooarchaeological collection from 49-RAT-32 on Amchitka Island in the Western Aleutians to examine Unangax̂ subsistence strategies, and human/environment interactions from 620 ± 20 to 320 ± 20 years B.P. The materials used for this analysis were recovered from primary and secondary fill overlaying the House 1 floor. Paleoecological records within this region are limited and conflict with each other, but the cool and wet conditions of the Little Ice Age 600-100 years B.P, or C.E. 1350-1850 are believed to be in effect during the deposition of the fill materials. Marine mammal, fish, and sea urchin remains were analyzed to understand subsistence practices, seasonality, and land/seascape use. The relative abundance of the exploited taxa and fork lengths of marine fishes were analyzed to identify potential resource stress and change over time. Atka mackerel dominates the faunal assemblage and Pacific cod are present in very low frequencies, both of which make 49-RAT-32 unique when compared to other Aleutian assemblages. Atka mackerel, Pacific cod, and Irish lords are larger in size than their modern counterparts, with the large size of Pacific cod indicating deep sea fishing practices. The size differentials in Atka mackerel and Irish lords may reflect differences in ocean conditions. This analysis of fauna from 49-RAT-32 does not indicate the presence of human-driven resource depression, in fact, fish sizes were increasing, and diet breadth was shrinking. The opposite pattern from what would be expected if humans were overfishing. The data from this analysis increase our understanding of resource utilization and landscape use during the Late Aleutian Period, and provides baseline information for future studies analyzing changes in fish size over time.
  • A study of variation among side-notched bifaces from northern archaic sites in Alaska

    Fuqua, Kaitlyn N.; Clark, Jamie; Reuther, Josh; Esdale, Julie (2020-05)
    An Alaskan archaeological tradition, the Northern Archaic, (~6,000-1,000 cal years BP) is often identified based on the presence of side-notched bifaces. Variation among these bifaces, commonly referred to as projectile points, is not well understood. This study examines morphological and functional variability among a sample of 209 notched bifaces from 63 Northern Archaic sites located in central and northern Alaska. The nature and extent of variability were examined on several scales, including: 1) across ecological regions of Alaska, 2) throughout the mid-Holocene (6,000-1,000 cal years BP), and 3) within a single site (the Ratekin site, HEA-187). Morphological variation was examined using metric and nonmetric variables, including length, width, thickness, and raw material type. This study also employs a 2-D geometric morphometric landmark based analysis, which is intended to provide a less subjective view of variation in tool morphology. Side-notched bifaces in the sample show a large degree of variation, both across sites and within the Ratekin site. There are some differences in shape among bifaces from Polar and Boreal regions of Alaska, which may indicate regional varieties. There appears to be some variation in the degree of standardization in side-notched biface production over time; between 3000-2,000 cal years BP, there is a decline in variability across the majority of the metric shape variables, suggesting a greater degree of standardization. Functional variability was assessed using three lines of evidence: breakage patterns, macroscopic wear patterns on the distal end, and a Dart-Arrow Index. Sixty percent of the side-notched bifaces in the sample exhibit some breakage, most of which were lateral/transverse breaks located on the shoulders and neck of the tool. Biface tips show evidence of use and frequent rejuvenation. Similar breakage and use patterns, and dart-arrow values were found across the ecological regions, throughout the mid-Holocene, and within the Ratekin site sample. Despite the shifts in morphology identified at regional and temporal scales, this indicates that side-notched bifaces served a similar function at all scales examined. Variation in side-notched bifaces was also considered from the perspective of human behavioral ecology, focusing specifically on risk management and how strategies for mitigating risk may be reflected in lithic assemblages (through invention, innovation, and standardization). Other risk management strategies employed during the Northern Archaic may include communal hunting, subsistence diversification, and high residential mobility. Within this framework, the increased standardization among side-notched bifaces during 3,000-2,000 cal years BP may be a reflection of a risk-averse behavior, supported by evidence of subsistence diversification at Northern Archaic sites after 4,000 cal years BP.

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