Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Background on Fishing and Resources in Bristol Bay Project


The people of Bristol Bay have long depended on the region’s salmon fisheries. The oral history interviews in the Fishing and Natural Resources of Bristol Bay Project Jukebox explore how livelihoods connected to the environment have both continued and changed in Bristol Bay over time. How has fishing shaped the perspectives of Bristol Bay residents on resource development issues, past and present?  How have community members worked to address any concerns or conflicts about fishing and other natural resources over the years?  In these oral histories, longtime residents recount their involvement in efforts to address resource issues over the years. They reflect on the most significant changes they have witnessed during their lifetimes and look to the future to offer perspectives for young people today. The oral histories aim to add a historical perspective, showing how resource concerns and the strategies for addressing them have changed over time in Bristol Bay.  For other oral history recordings about similar themes in Bristol Bay, please visit the interviews archived by the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust:

photo of wooden boats in DillnghamThis Bristol Bay oral history project is part of a larger ethnographic study funded by the National Science Foundation titled "The Vulnerable North? Risk and Resilience in Alaskan Coastal Communities." The study looked at community involvement in resource development debates across coastal Alaska by comparing Bristol Bay in southwestern Alaska with Sitka in southeastern Alaska. From 2013-2016, this qualitative research project examined how different groups of actors in Alaskan coastal communities form knowledge about environmental and economic risk. It further probed how engagement with risk knowledge affects the modes of social action that contribute to resilience. The principal investigator on this project was Karen Hebert, who at the time was an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. As of July 2016, she is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. In December 2015, Karen contacted the Oral History Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks about creating a Project Jukebox website using some of the Bristol Bay interviews as a way to increase public access to the oral histories she recorded.

Funding for this project was generously provided by the National Science Foundation’s Arctic Social Sciences program and by Yale University’s MacMillan Center. 

The Bristol Bay oral history interviews were conducted by Karen Hebert, Karen "Lexi" Tuddenham, and Mike Davis in Dillingham and Anchorage Alaska from 2013 to 2015. The Fishing and Natural Resources in Bristol Bay Project Jukebox was completed in May 2016 by Karen Brewster of the Oral History Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The original recordings are archived at the Oral History Program, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks.