• Alutiiq ethnicity

      Partnow, Patricia Hartley; Black, Lydia T.; Dauenhauer, Richard; Morrow, Phyllis; Schneider, William S.; Ellanna, Linda J.; Leer, Jeff; Stolzberg, Richard J. (1993)
      In this project I consider how Alaska Peninsula Alutiiqs (Pacific Eskimos) maintain and express a sense of continuity with their past and how in today's world they use their understanding of the past to renegotiate and reenact their ethnic identity. I do so through an ethnohistorical reconstruction of Alutiiq ethnic identity from precontact days to the present and through a consideration of the role oral tradition and community ritual play in the constant reformulation of Alutiiq identity. I discuss the symbols considered most diagnostically Alutiiq (i.e., those which make up the Alutiiq identity configuration) and explore their meanings as Alutiiqs utilize and manipulate them in a variety of settings. Originally based on a common language, the Alutiiq identity developed into a full-blown ethnicity over a period of 200 years of contact with non-indigenous peoples, first the Russians and then the Americans. As Alutiiq identity became more uniform and pervasive throughout the Alaska Peninsula, its uniformity was balanced by a cultural tendency toward emphasis on local society. Today's Alutiiq identity configuration is characterized by ties to the land, a belief in a shared history with other Alutiiqs, acknowledgement of Alutiiq as the ancestral language, adherence to some level of subsistence lifestyle, and a kinship link to Alutiiqs of the past. For this study I undertook both archival research and fieldwork, the latter focusing on folklore transmission and performance (particularly ethnohistorical narratives and ritual performances). I discuss how verbal and dramatic folklore performances, considered in historic, social, and cultural context, serve as a vehicle for defining, reconceptualizing, and reinforcing ethnicity. I employ a situational (in contrast to a group-with-boundaries) model of ethnicity in conjunction with ethnohistoric and folklore analysis to illuminate the processes which have led to today's Alutiiq identity configuration. I further consider the ramifications the Alutiiq case has for general ethnicity theory.
    • Can We Remain Yup'ik In These Contemporary Times? A Conversation Of Three Yugtun-Speaking Mothers

      Michael, Veronica E.; Marlow, P. (2010)
      The Yup'ik people of southwestern Alaska are experiencing language shift from Yugtun to English. This study is a conversation between three Yugtun speaking mothers who are trying to understand this shift and wondering if they can maintain their identity, and that of their children, in this changing world. The study takes place in the village of Kuiggluk. Data collection included a research journal and focus group discussions. In this study, I have tried to paint a picture of who we are as Yup'ik mothers in our contemporary lives. Qayaruaq, Mikngayaq and I carry with us our own mothers' teachings, while at the same time we face different situations in school and schooling. Through our discussions we sought to understand the reasons for language loss/shift -- a shift that seems to be driving us away from our culture.
    • Federal policy and Alaska Native languages since 1867

      Alton, Thomas L.; Krauss, Michael (1998)
      Researchers and the general public have often contended that punishment of children for speaking their native languages in schools is the cause of the decline of those languages. But native language loss in Alaska is rooted also in the choices Natives made themselves to accept English for its social, economic, and political opportunities. Since the United States purchased Alaska in 1867, English has replaced native languages as the first language learned by children in nearly all homes. Although none of Alaska's twenty native languages is yet extinct, most are at a point of peril as English has replaced a pattern of linguistic diversity that existed from time immemorial. This study documents the history of language decline and the role of federal government policy in that process. Congress extended federal policies to Alaska in 1884 when it established civil government in the territory. In 1885 the Bureau of Education assumed responsibility for running rural schools. Federal policy during that era grew out of America's desire for uniformity of culture, religion, and language, and as a result schools often forcibly suppressed Native American languages and punished students for speaking them. Yet Alaska Natives have been active participants in change, not passive victims of an overwhelming bureaucracy. The switch to English occurred as Natives responded to the influx of American population with its systems of economy, society, politics, and justice. Natives abandoned their old languages when they became convinced through pressures from the outside world that English held more prestige and advantage than their native languages. Government policies defined the choices that were available, and Natives adopted English for the opportunities it afforded them in a modern system that was not of their own making. Once families began using English as the language of the home and thus interrupted the continuity of native language use from one generation to the next, the decline of native languages was assured. Punishment of school children for speaking their native languages, along with American social, economic, and political systems, created an environment in which Alaska Natives made the constrained choice to adopt English as the language of the home and community.
    • Protective Factors Promoting Psychosocial Resilience In Biracial Youths

      Kawakami-Schwarber, Gail K.; Morotti, Alan (2010)
      Resilience in adolescents is the achievement of positive outcomes and the attainment of developmental tasks in the face of significant risk. This study identified protective factors promoting resilience in the development of positive self-identity in biracial youths. The rapidly rising biracial youth population is a vulnerable group facing potentially higher risks for mental health and behavioral issues compared to their monoracial counterparts. Identity development, a central psychosocial task of adolescence, is a complex task for biracial youths since they must integrate two ethnic identities. For biracial youths, mastery of the psychosocial identity developmental task can be daunting as they face stressors such as racial stigmas and negative stereotypes, which may lead to identity problems manifesting during adolescence. Sixteen biracial individuals ranging from age 18 to 29 years participated in this qualitative research project. Comparisons were made to identify patterns and themes for factors affecting self-esteem and ethnic identity level among the participants. Brought to light were culturally-based protective factors stemming from individual, family, and social domains promoting psychosocial resilience in fostering healthy biracial identity resolution. Risk factors unique for the biracial population were also identified. The findings underscore the importance in understanding how the environment shapes and influences the ways biracial youth negotiate their dual identity. The research results can be integrated into appropriate prevention and intervention techniques for application by professionals and families to further healthy identity resolution in biracial youths.
    • Returning: Twentieth century performances of the King Island Wolf Dance

      Kingston, Deanna Marie; Morrow, Phyllis (1999)
      In 1982 and again in 1991, the King Island (Alaska) Native Community revived the Wolf Dance, which is a complex ritual involving songs, dances, feasts, competitive games and an exchange of goods. The object of this dissertation is to discover why they chose to revive the Wolf Dance, rather than the Polar Bear Dance which was their most significant ritual in the early twentieth century. Archival sources and other literature pertaining to Inupiaq and Yup'ik ceremonialism were consulted in order to interpret the meaning and purpose of the Wolf Dance. In addition, contemporary King Island community members were interviewed in order to obtain their interpretations. Videotapes of both the 1982 and 1991 performances were viewed in order to gain information not obtained in either written or oral sources. Finally, archival sources were again searched to understand the interactions between King Islanders and members of Western society, including missionaries, tourists, public folklorists, and agents of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This dissertation concludes that the Wolf Dance was revived for reasons that served both individuals and the community. Organizers of Wolf Dance performances desired to enact either their own or a family member's return to the community. The King Island community performed the Wolf Dance either to create peace or to encourage youth to return to traditional activities. Although particular meanings of the Wolf Dance changed through time, the basic themes of the Wolf Dance (returning, reciprocity, friendship/enmity, and danger) were maintained in contemporary performances. Finally, because the Wolf Dance embodied the cultural value placed on balancing, rather than resolving, tensions and contradictions, this ritual mirrors their perceived need to balance traditions with new influences of Western society. Catholicism was balanced with traditional beliefs, the use of Western resources (such as funding) was balanced with the need to counteract Western forces, and the need to be interdependent with mainland Natives was balanced with their need to be separate from them. Thus, the Wolf Dance reflects not only basic themes of their social order, but also their history of interaction with Western society.
    • The Orthogonal Cultural Identification Scale In Asian Indian International Exchange Students: A Qualitative Study Of Meanings Ascribed To Scale Items

      Lower, Timothy A.; Mohatt, Gerald (2008)
      In order to facilitate greater cultural competency, a study regarding the use of the Orthogonal Cultural Identification Scale (OCIS) in a sample of Asian Indian exchange students was conducted. The specific research questions to be answered were: (a) what meanings would participants ascribe to key terms and phrases on the OCIS, (b) what meanings would participants apply to differences in categorical placement on the OCIS, and (c) what themes would the participants associate with cultural identification? To answer these questions, 47 participants completed the OCIS and a demographic questionnaire, while 8 of these participants also participated in a semi-structured individual interview and group feedback interview. A phenomenological method and participant feedback were used to analyze and summarize the data. Internal consistency of the OCIS subscales was good, while the White American or Anglo and the Asian Indian subscales correlated positively to a significant extent. The OCIS term, "traditions," was associated with festivals, family, puja, and special foods. The OCIS phrase, "way of life," connoted Hinduism, family-centered, day-to-day activities, gender differences, and intra-cultural variation. Finally, the term, "success," connoted karma, family life, education/knowledge, social life, and practical considerations. Because no previous study has investigated the meanings of key terms or phrases on the OCIS, this study adds to the literature by providing: (a) an initial indication of the meanings ascribed by Asian Indian exchange students to items on the OCIS, and (b) a model for similar investigations in other cultures.
    • The Scandinavian Immigrant Experience In Utah, 1850--1920: Using Material Culture To Interpret Cultural Adaptation

      Abbott, Rachel Gianni; Ehrlander, Mary; Gold, Carol; Henrichsen, Lynn; Koester, David (2013)
      From 1850 to 1920, over 25,000 Scandinavians who had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emigrated to Utah to unite themselves with fellow Church members (Mormons) and build their Zion. These Scandinavian immigrants brought distinctive cultural heritages and traditions that contributed to the collective identity in Utah. The majority of literature on Scandinavian immigration to America and Scandinavian immigrants in America, however, neglects to consider the Mormon Scandinavian immigrants in the larger discourse. In addition, many historians of Utah history have concluded that Scandinavian immigrants assimilated culturally and left no trace of their Danish, Norwegian and Swedish traditions. To understand the Scandinavian immigrant experience in Utah, this study examines the material culture emigrants took and produced in their new home. These objects reveal that rather than totally jettisoning homeland heritage, Scandinavian immigrants and their descendants maintained and modified their traditional folkways, skills, and crafts while comingling them with new cultural traditions. The work presented here is the product of four years of fieldwork throughout areas in Utah that were predominantly settled by Scandinavians in the nineteenth century. The study concentrates on furniture, pottery, folk painting, textiles, embroidery, tools and implements. Each object was compared to similar objects in Scandinavia to verify their validity as Scandinavian, then the history of each object was investigated though archival research. Objects and contextual material were examined to elicit their reflection of the immigrant experience and cultural adaptation, especially to understand the evolving identities of Scandinavian Mormons in their new land. This dissertation analyzes material culture to explore the concepts of acculturation and identity. The artifacts suggest that while immigrants adapted to Utah's desert landscape and adjusted to gendered Church expectations, they retained core aspects of their homeland identities. The findings thus illustrate complexity of identity; that it evolves and that certain threads are perhaps more resilient than others. The findings of this study contribute to the broader discourse on Scandinavians in America and assert that Scandinavians in Utah maintained and perpetuated skills and traditions acquired in their homelands as they adjusted to the culture and environment of their new home.
    • Twentieth century Inupiaq Eskimo reindeer herding on northern Seward Peninsula, Alaska

      Simon, James Johnson Koffroth; Schweitzer, Peter P. (1998)
      Domesticated reindeer were introduced to Alaska from the Russian Far East at the end of the nineteenth century as a project in social engineering designed to assist in the assimilation of Alaska Natives into Euroamerican society. Most previous discussions of Alaska Native reindeer herding have focused on reindeer introduction as an agent of culture change associated with culture contact and economic modernization. This diachronic study of more than a century of Bering Strait Inupiaq reindeer herding, however, demonstrates that reindeer herding was incorporated into traditional Inupiaq culture and society to the extent that it now helps to maintain and reproduce traditional Inupiaq values and social relations. Inupiaq reindeer herding emerged as a result of the previous experience the Bering Strait Inupiat had with the intercontinental trade of Chukchi reindeer herding products prior to reindeer introduction. Bering Strait Inupiat were already aware of the economic potential of reindeer herding, such that reindeer herding was incorporated into traditional Inupiaq conceptions of property, wealth, prestige, social organization, subsistence, and land use practices. This incorporation provided the opportunity for the Bering Strait Inupiat to improve standards of life during a period of rapid social change associated with increasing Euroamerican influences. Furthermore, it also provided a means to maintain Inupiaq cultural identity through the emergence of reindeer umialiks and through the importance of reindeer herding in maintaining traditional social relations. In effect, reindeer herding became part of Bering Strait Inupiaq traditional culture through its importance to Inupiaq cultural reproduction.
    • Young Native Fiddlers: A Case Study On Cultural Resilience In Interior Alaska

      Allan, Maryanne; Barnhardt, Raymond; Parker-Webster, Joan (2011)
      This study explores success for Alaska Native young people, defining success using an Alaska Native point of view, that is, interconnectedness between culturally healthy youth and a culturally nurturing community. As a participatory action research project, members of the community, including musicians, young fiddlers, and their parents and grandparents are collaborating to develop a culturally-based youth group (Young Native Fiddlers) focused on Athabascan fiddling, a 150 year old Athabascan tradition, with the goal of developing culturally healthy youth. This study focuses on the impact of this program on its members and on the community. Using a participatory action research process, data gathering includes interviews with young fiddlers, parents and grandparents, musicians and community members, journal entries, participant observation, notes from participants, photographs, videos, and local media coverage. Themes were identified in the data and references were tallied to determine the meaning given to involvement in this program. The themes referred to most often were empowerment and cultural connection. Results suggest that while acquiring the skills of fiddle performance, young participants are not only continuing this valuable cultural tradition but they are developing individual cultural resilience as well as leadership skills. And they are sharing culture and strengths with their cultural community, thereby contributing to community resilience.