Subsistence Research in Alaska: A thirty year retrospective


Peer Reviewed

Wheeler P, & Thornton TF


Alaska Journal of Anthropology 3, Issue 1, pages 69-103, 2005


┬áSubsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering has been the foundation of Alaska Natives’ historical existence and the most contentious and intractable political issue of Alaska’s modern history as a state. As both a basic cultural system and thorny public policy issue, subsistence has provided a rich base for anthropological inquiry, especially in the past thirty years, since the birth of the Alaska Anthropological Association. While anthropological inquiry into subsistence in Alaska certainly did not begin with the inception of the Association, it could be argued that the history of the Association, and the focus of many of its members, are intimately tied to understanding and explaining the unique economic, political, cultural and ideological phenomena associated with subsistence. This review essay highlights important findings and themes in subsistence research over the past 30 years and how they bear on contemporary subsistence policy and research emphases and needs. We close by offering some general conclusions about subsistence research in relation to public policy, as well as some practical directions for future anthropological work on this important, enduring issue.

Keywords: Subsistence livelihoods, Alaska
Categories: Arctic, Social Science