Deconstructing cultural loss: the significance of Alutiiq subsistence-based practices and values for conceptions of their collective identity prior to the 1989 oil spill

Irena Leisbet Ceridwen Connon (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract

Alutiiq subsistence-based practices and values are integral to conceptions of their cultural identity and serve to ensure a sense of well-being. This contribution examines how the effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill arguably posed a threat to Alutiiq conceptions of cultural identity, by exploring the reasons why subsistence, both as a practice and a symbolic marker, were regarded as inherently tied to the security of their cultural identity in the era leading up to the oil spill. The ways in which subsistence-based practices play a key role in the affirmation and transmission of the Alutiiq worldview are explored, followed by an examination of debates surrounding the authenticity of Native status claims in the period leading up to the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, which influenced internal conceptions of identity. Subsistence took on increased value as a marker of Native status, as it showed evidence of cultural continuity and resistance to colonialism. It can be inferred that the impacts of the oil spill on subsistence practice were perceived to pose a threat to the continuation of Alutiiq identity, as subsistence practices serve a functional role in affirming and maintaining values regarding the interconnectedness of communities with the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHumanizing Security in the Arctic
EditorsMichelle Daveluy, Francis Levesque, Jenanne Ferguson
Place of PublicationEdmonton
PublisherThe University of Alberta Press: CCI Press
Chapter12
Pages171-189
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781772121858
ISBN (Print)9781896445540
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012

Keywords

  • Alutiiq
  • subsistence
  • identity
  • Prince William Sound
  • Exxon Valdez

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