Hunter-Gatherer Identity and Decision Making in Aleut and Yup’ik Cultural Traditions, Alaska by Caroline Funk, SUNY at Buffalo
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Ruthven Museums Building Room 2009
Hunter-gatherer decision making occurs in the context of regionally and temporally distinct cultural identities. Negotiations among people acting on their landscapes according to their cultural identity’s world view result in the formation of the archaeological record we use to build theories, understand heritage, and define past environments for restoration ecology. Decision-making models give insight into people’s motivations in the past, but it is a frustratingly narrow, resource-oriented view confined to data that are reliably measurable in archaeological assemblages. Working with a rich collection of oral histories, ethnohistories, and a well-preserved cold-climate archaeological record, I am able to look at broader themes in cultural identity. I demonstrate that regionally defined gender roles, perceptions of risk, uses of space, and relationships with the environment and resources impacted Aleut and Yup’ik decision making in different ways in past centuries.