Apr 20th, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Koyukon Issues of Conservation and Sustainability in the 21st Century: Struggling to Preserve Cultural Heritages

Faculty Mentor

Dr. John P. Ziker


This research examines the impact of statehood, on the traditional subsistence patterns and practices of the Koyukon, a northern Athapaskan people of interior Alaska. We used existing ethnography, as well as a recent visit by one of our members, to provide insight into the Koyukon’s complex belief system and their seasonal hunting, fishing, and game selection practices. We looked at the effects of designation of wildlife refuges and national parks encompassing large tracts of historic Koyukon hunting and fishing territories. The Koyukon have a broad perspective on the entire social-ecological system, including history and political landscape. For the Koyukon, subsistence is related to the larger political, spiritual, epistemological settings of their lives and their culture. We make a comparison of our ethnographically enriched political ecological model of Koyukon resource use and settlement with Lewis Binford’s (1980) Forager-Colllector model. Koyukon political economy incorporates traditional strategies in a modern context and local attempts to preserve their cultural heritage. The Koyukon, provide a unique opportunity to study a group with a rich and expansive knowledge of their history, culture and traditional patterns of subsistence. These topics are not merely academic interests, but vital to their daily lives.