Session Titles, Organizers, and Abstracts

NPS Cultural Resource Management
Andy Tremayne (National Park Service)

The National Park Service is one of the major players when it comes to cultural resource management on federal lands in Alaska. NPS manages over 54 million acres of land in Alaska where the archaeological record documents thousands of years of prehistoric survival and adaptation along with countless landscapes and environments where living indigenous people still practice a subsistence lifestyle. This session provides an overview of some of the projects that NPS CRM team members across our region have completed or developed in an effort to document and preserve our state’s rich cultural legacy.

The Northern Archaic Tradition: A New Decade of Scientific Advancement
Gerad Smith, Ben Potter (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

The Northern Archaic tradition holds a unique place in North American archaeology. It is present for millennia over vast stretches of the Subarctic (and Arctic), yet it has remained poorly understood. Over the past few years, new data and analyses have yielded new interpretations on Northern Archaic technology, subsistence, land use, origins, and relationships to Athabaskan peoples. The goal of this session is to present our current understanding (and current debates) about this enigmatic culture.

Remembering and Continuing the Work of Eileen Devinney
Rachel Mason (National Park Service)

When Eileen Devinney, cultural anthropologist for the National Park Service, Alaska Region, died in 2017, it was a huge loss to anthropology in Alaska. This symposium highlights some of the ethnographic and archaeological projects she worked on during her 25 years at the National Park Service. Eileen developed many close and lasting partnerships with Alaska Native communities. As manager of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act program for the Alaska region, she conducted tribal and other consultations, provided guidance to parks, and repeatedly resolved difficult issues. Eileen’s colleagues and collaborators will share memories of fieldwork with her, as well as plans for continuing some of her ongoing projects.

Archaeological Features and Food Processing in Northern Environments
Caitlin R. Holloway and Jeffrey T. Rasic (National Park Service)

Archaeological and anthropological research incorporates a range of methods to address questions of subsistence strategies and social practices among past and present foraging economies. This session aims to bring together researchers focused on hearth features and food processing in a variety of temporal and geographic settings across the circumpolar north. Topics can range from analyses of prehistoric late Pleistocene and Holocene archaeological sites to ethnographic research incorporating traditional knowledge of Alaska Native communities. This session encourages interdisciplinary research and discussion among specialists involved in geochemical analyses, zooarchaeology, archaeobotany, experimental archaeology, taphonomic studies, spatial analyses, and ethnoarchaeology. The papers presented in this session will highlight the use of different archaeological and anthropological techniques to address similar questions regarding the social and economic implications of hearth function and food preparation in foraging communities.

Community-based Participatory Research in Alaska
Monty Rogers and Yoko Kugo (Monty Rogers, Cultural Alaska, and Yoko Kugo, University of Alaska Fairbanks Arctic and Northern Studies)

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is an approach to science where communities and researchers have equal roles in selecting the research topic, formulating hypotheses, conducting research, analyzing results of the research, and presenting research conclusions. As far back as the 1940s, researchers have recognized local perspectives provide a better understanding of local environment, economy, education, health, traditions, history, and archaeology. Throughout the Arctic, the CBPR approach has become more common in interdisciplinary research projects over the last two decades. Social scientists have been working collaboratively with local communities to identify important areas of research and ensure local voices and perceptions are foundations of the projects. Instead of outside researchers creating a set of questions and hypotheses prior to visiting study communities, researchers partner with local assistants to develop research questions from a local perspective that are locally relevant. This session presents place-based participatory and community-driven approaches for recent projects in the Arctic.

Accelerating Environmental Change Threats to Alaskan Cultural Heritage: Emerging Challenges and Promising Responses
Anne M. Jensen (UAF/UAMN/UICS)

Archaeological sites are important repositories of cultural heritage. Those with good organic preservation are particularly important as sources of data on past human behavior, but also as valuable resources for paleoenvironmental reconstruction, with potential similar to other stratified datable proxy records.  Alaska is fortunate to have a plethora of such sites.

Yet, just as new methods increase our ability to retrieve and study the information contained in these sites, accelerating environmental change poses a dire threat, both to the wealth of data contained in them, and to many of the sites themselves.  Threats include: increased coastal erosion (due to sea level rise, possible increases in number and/or strength of storms, and diminished sea ice in Polar regions, relaxation of glacial forebulges changing relative sea level), increased riverine erosion (due to increases in precipitation amount or intensity and increases in glacial melting), drying of waterlogged sites and bogs (due to hydrological changes), changes in fire regimes, changes in land use which result in greater ground disturbance (due to changing conditions for agriculture or displacement of populations from more threatened areas), and in northern areas, the warming and thawing of permafrost. Alaska is clearly the most affected state in the country. It seems clear that these changes are unlikely to stop or even slow, bringing into question the wisdom of proceeding with “business as usual.”

The session is planned to include papers identifying challenges, either in the field or post-excavation, as well as those which offer examples of promising responses to any of these challenges.

Threads of the Aleutian Campaign: Exploring the Fabric of World War II in Alaska
Kelly Gwynn (Alaska Aviation Museum)

World War II in Alaska was a pivotal time for the territory. We were attacked by the Japanese, Unangax people were taken as prisoners of war to Japan, others were removed from their homes and sent to Southeast Alaska. The influx of military personnel dramatically and permanently changed the face of Alaska. This year—2018—marks the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Attu. The Alaska Aviation Museum is working in partnership with the Veteran’s Museum, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and other organizations to curate an exhibit that is fully representative of the complexities of the Battle of the Aleutians and its effects on Alaskans and the broader context of World War II.

Davin Holen and Erica Mitchell (Davin Holen, Alaska Sea Grant, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences & Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, UAF & Erica Mitchell, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium)

A growing interest in the rapidly changing Arctic in the past few years has led to a number of vulnerability, resilience, and adaptation planning efforts by small communities and tribes in Alaska as the climate in Alaska rapidly changes, and weather patterns increasingly are more unpredictable. Impacts to communities include coastal erosion and inundation affecting infrastructure and eroding cultural sites, ocean acidification impacting subsistence resources, lack of sea ice for hunting and for buffering fall storms, changes in phenology and abundance of resources important for subsistence, and changes in precipitation meaning lower snow pack in the winter or too much rain in summer impacting everything from winter travel to drying salmon in the summer. Tribes are taking on more responsibility for monitoring and mitigation activities at the local level to provide data they need for planning, as well as a growing interest in including local knowledge into these activities. Alaskan anthropologists working within agencies, Tribes, and organizations in Alaska are employed in a variety of capacities as social scientists and are working at the intersection of Tribes that serve communities, and the agencies that provide funding for activities. This session will explore the diversity of positions and projects that applied anthropologists are conducting to help communities build resilience and adapt to a changing world.

Understanding The Arctic Through Knowledge Co-Production
Julie Raymond-Yakoubian and Raychelle Daniel (JRY: Kawerak, Inc. and RD: Pew Charitable Trusts)

The Arctic is changing at an accelerated rate due to climate change and increased anthropogenic activity. Given the rate of change, never has it been more important to work toward a holistic understanding of the Arctic’s interconnecting systems. A co-production of knowledge framework will provide the holistic view and comprehension needed to inform effective and adaptive policies and practices. Co-production of knowledge is increasingly being recognized by the scientific community at-large. However, in many instances the concept is being incorrectly applied. In this session we hope to differentiate co-production of knowledge from a multi-disciplinary approach or multi-evidence based decision-making. Presentations will underscore the role and value of different knowledge systems with different methodologies and the need for collaborative approaches in identifying research questions. We hope that the session will provide an understanding of some of the most important components that form a co-production of knowledge framework and to have an open and respectful dialogue that builds on our collective experience in working with Indigenous communities and scientists in the Arctic.

New Approaches to Collaborative Exhibit Development in Alaska
Amy Phillips-Chan (Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum)

Collaborative-driven exhibits in Alaska are advancing cross-disciplinary research and interpretation on the material world in the circumpolar north. Exhibits developed around a shared focus between Alaskan museums and communities are increasing our collective knowledge, stimulating vibrant dialogue, and confronting relevant social issues. Integration of new exhibit technologies and online platforms are providing a range of modalities to engage visitors and share multiple perspectives and stories. This session explores a diversity of contemporary approaches to collaborative exhibit development and knowledge production taking place in museums across Alaska.

Stones, Bones, and More: Papers in Archaeology and Biological Anthropology
Brian T. Wygal and Kathryn E. Krasinski (Adelphi University)

This session presents a variety of interesting topics in archaeology and biological anthropology with papers on the peopling of the Americas to the Dorset and Thule. Join us for conversations on Chindadn points, dental morphology, alpine trails, pre-contact iron use, small bird hunting, and even Patagonia.