Keynote Speakers

Dinner Keynote Speaker, Wednesday March 1st, 6:00-9:00 pm

Dr. Anna Marie Prentiss, University of MontanaThe Last House at Bridge River: Archaeology of an Aboriginal Household during the Fur Trade period in British Columbia

Dr Prentiss at Bridge River
Dr. Prentiss at Housepit 54, Bridge River Site


Dr. Prentiss is an archaeologist specializing in the prehistory of the Great Plains, Pacific Northwest, and Western Arctic regions of North America and Chilean Patagonia. She has a methodological specialty in lithic technology and theoretical interests in the archaeology of villages and towns, social inequality, hunter-gatherer mobility and technological organization, and the cultural evolutionary process. She is currently editor of the SAA Archaeological Record, the magazine of the Society for American Archaeology. She received her PhD in Archaeology from Simon Fraser University in 1993 and is currently professor of archaeology in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Montana.


Between the years of 1812 and 1863 the Hudson Bay Company established posts and forts along the Fraser and Thompson Rivers in southern interior British Columbia to facilitate the fur trade industry. Non-Native fur traders relied on cooperation from local indigenous groups who provided furs and sustenance.   Networks of Native providers included local groups directly associated with forts, so-called middlemen, and a wide range of indirect participants. Middle Fraser Canyon is located at a substantial distance from the forts, yet it was central to their operations, not for furs, but as a source of dried salmon necessary for winter survival. The Native people of the Middle Fraser area, known as the St’át’imc or Upper Lillooet, were drawn into this expanding capitalist world as providers of fish and other products valued by both other natives and the newcomers. Given their indirect role in the fur trade there is relatively little written documentation of St’át’imc life during this tumultuous time. Recent research at the Bridge River site however, has provided an opportunity to examine a traditional St’át’imc household during the fur trade from an archaeological standpoint. Housepit 54 at Bridge River was occupied repeatedly prior to 1000 years ago. However, the house was reoccupied during the late portion of the Fur Trade period, ca. 1835-1858 CE. The abundant well preserved features, artifacts, and subsistence remains have permitted a detailed reconstruction of St’át’imc traditional culture and engagement with opportunities and challenges of the fur trade. This presentation interprets the St’át’imc experience drawing from historical and ethnographic documentation and the remarkable archaeological record of Housepit 54.


Luncheon Keynote Speaker, Thursday March 2nd, 12:20-3:00 pm

Dr. Alan Boraas, Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska- Fish, Family, Freedom, and Sacred Water: The Salmon Cultures of Bristol Bay, Alaska



Alan Boraas has been on the faculty of Kenai Peninsula College for 44 years–second on the longevity list of University of Alaska professors. He teaches classes ranging from introductory anthropology to history and theory of anthropology. He has conducted archaeological, applied linguistic, ethnographic, applied anthropological, and most recently, biological anthropological research (epigenetics) mostly among the Dena’ina of southcentral Alaska. For 10 years he has written a monthly opinion piece for the Alaska Dispatch News. He lives in Kasilof where he can step out of the door and walk or snowshoe for two hours without encountering another house.


Between 2011-2014 with the assistance of Catherine Knott, I undertook a four-field cultural description of the Dena’ina and Yup’ik villages of the Nushagak and Kvichak watersheds of southwest Alaska. In these watersheds salmon have been the keystone subsistence species for several thousand years and continues to shape practices and world view to this day. It can be said the villages of the Nushagak and Kvichak have successfully made the transition from prehistory to the present based on the same keystone species as their ancestors and accompanying value system.

I will describe the results of 53 interviews focusing primarily on “how do you define a wealthy person in this village.” No one said money or a nice house or other trappings of materialism. Yup’ik and Dena’ina defined wealth as freezers full of fish, family connections, and the freedom to live a culturally defined lifestyle.

I will also describe the Orthodox Great Blessing of the Water in which the water is baptized every year to make it pure for the return of the salmon. The premise is: people raise to the sacred that which is most important in their lives.

This work was part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial Clean Water Act, Sec. 404(c) assessment that has resulted in proposed restrictions on the Pebble Mine. As of this writing, a Federal Advisory Committee Act litigation, in which I am named, has been brought by the Pebble Limited Partnership against the EPA.