Accepted paper:

Re-localization and the process of decision making in a Sugpiaq community

Author:

David DeHass (University of Alaska)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation briefly investigates how the Sugpiat of Nanwalek, Alaska, have made a decision to use All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) as a means to reunite with the past and to re-localize many traditions that have been lost, but not forgotten.

Paper long abstract:

It should not be assumed that the introduction of a new technology automatically wipes out past cultural practices; rather, it is often the case that these offerings are integrated into a current routine. For the Sugpiat of Nanwalek, Alaska, there is a constant need to negotiate between what to change and what to preserve. Societies judge new technologies that are introduced based upon the shared wants and needs of their individual members. This presentation briefly investigates how the people of Nanwalek use All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) as a way to reconnect with past experiences, and to re-localize many traditions that have been lost, but not forgotten. Hondas have affected the lives and landscapes for those Native peoples of rural Alaska; and, often the impact is negative. However, in many ways, the decision to accept Hondas has allowed for increased participation in 'traditional' life-ways and resource management. These machines provide a way to materially and emotionally reunite with that which went before. Many of the activities and places that count are no longer merely fragments of one's memory; rather, they are physical and contemporary in their importance. Yet, it would be a mistake to think that re-localization simply occurs because of the existence of ATVs, or random internalizations and adaptations; rather, it is made possible by purposeful decision making, as well as, the re-interpretations of various and previously accepted traditions, in an effort to fulfill the current needs and wants of the group.

panel W003
Towards an anthropology of decision making