Being and Place among the Tlingit
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Washington Press
Series: Culture, Place, and Nature
Tlingit Spelling and Pronunciation Guide
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I first became interested in researching Tlingit concepts of place during the summer of 1989, when, as a young graduate student, I was employed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Subsistence, to study the historical and contemporary use of a famous but dwindling red salmon fishery in northern Southeast Alaska, known as...
1. Introduction: Place and Tlingit Senses of Being
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In the summer of 1990, I attended a public hearing staged by the U.S. Forest Service in Angoon (Aangóon, Isthmus Town, in Tlingit), a predominately Tlingit village of some six hundred residents located on Admiralty Island in the center of the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska. The “810 subsistence hearing,” referring to section 810...
2. Know Your Place: The Social Organization of Geographic Knowledge
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“How is it that you know about all of these places so far from your homeland?” I asked Sitka Kaagwaantaan elder Herman Kitka Sr., after one of our early work sessions documenting his extensive knowledge of indigenous place-names outside of the Sitka area where he lives. “I guess you could say that’s my family background,” he replied. “My relatives told...
3. What’s In a Name?: Place and Cognition
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“Dzántik’i Héeni is hard to spell. . . . It’s impossible to pronounce . . . sounds like Santa’s Bikini! . . . And who wants to be a flounder!” These were some of the protests heard in 1994 in response to a proposal to name a new middle school in Alaska’s capital, Juneau, after the Tlingit name for the city’s downtown...
4. Production and Place: “It was easy for me to put up fish there.”
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Pausing in the middle of his 1946 statement on his people’s use and claims to lands and waters around Kake, elder Fred Friday offered this vision of his Tlingit landscape: “The Native people know all the points and rocks and every little area by name. If I told you all the names of all the places that I know it would fill many pages. These areas were...
5. Ritual as Emplacement: The Potlatch / Ku.éex’
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On ritual occasions such as the memorial potlatch, or ku.éex’, Sitka Tlingits sometimes distinguish themselves as magnanimous, emplaced hosts by regaling guests with this aphorism: Tleil dagák’ ahawateeni yík, or “Don’t leave insulted like those little sockeyes.” It is a humble way of saying to guests from the opposite moiety, “I hope I have not...
6. Conclusion: Toward an Anthropology of Place
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This study began with Gabriel George’s statement that “these lands are vital not only to our subsistence, but also to our sense of being as Tlingit people.” Accepting this autoethnographic thesis, this project has been an attempt to examine what cultural institutions most profoundly shape Tlingit senses of being and place. Defining place as a combination of...
Appendix: Tlingit Resources with Seasonality
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Publication Year: 2008
Series Title: Culture, Place, and Nature