Totem poles and tricycle races: the certainties and uncertainties of Native village life, Coastal Alaska 1878–1930

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Abstract Anthropological and ethnohistorical accounts of the Northwest Coast and Southeast Alaska have underemphasized the early and thorough industrialization of the area. This paper describes the transformation of Native families and community forms by small scale salmon‐canning firms in the late 19th and early 20th century, beginning with the building of the first salmon cannery in Klawock, Alaska, in 1878. Attention to the unmaking of past forms of obligation and expectation leads to an understanding of the volatility of specifically local histories in Native villages. Totem poles and tricycle races are both locations of ambiguous cultural production that are tied to these histories in overlapping and complex ways, and as such, they serve as metaphors for the larger processes at work in these towns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-157
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Historical Sociology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1995


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

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