Doug and Wanni Anderson - Eskimo Life at the Dawn of European Contact: Clues from Northwest Alaska

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Thursday, October 29, 2015 5:30pm - 6:30pm
Smith-Buonanno, Room 106

Wanni and Doug Anderson

Inupiat Eskimo of Northwest Alaska first encountered European explorers in 1816, when a Russian expedition arrived in Kotzebue Sound. But archaeological research shows that European and Asian trade goods like beads and metal tools were already present in the region. Excavations lead by Doug and Wanni Anderson, Brown University, along the Kobuk River have revealed that the residents had readily incorporated these exotic items into their daily life, even though at the time they were experiencing food shortage, hunger, and even untimely death. Present-day Natives of the region refer to those hard times in their oral history, often attributing the misfortunes to shamanistic spells or to enemy attacks. The integration of their oral historic and archaeological research has provided unique insights into the early history of the region.  This talk includes a screening of the short film "Swift Water Place."  Sponsored by the Friends of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology.

Doug Anderson taught in the Anthropology Department at Brown for 49 years, established the museum's Laboratory for Circumpolar Studies in 1973, and continues to do research on Alaska. Wanni Anderson taught in the Department of Anthropology and American Studies for 24 years, and is also continuing her research in Alaska. They were recently awarded the 2015 Richard A. Baenen Award from the Alaska Native Corporation. The award reads "This award represents untiring commitment to our people and honors the positive difference you have made in our region for our shareholders. Your work has helped us understand what life was like for our ancestors and connects our traditions and culture to the world we know today. Thank you for your research and for building a bridge of knowledge that Inupiat for generations can cross."