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Richard Nelson

Richard Nelson was interviewed on September 22, 1992 by Bill Schneider at Elmer E. Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Richard was making a brief visit to Fairbanks on other business, but took time to talk about his involvement in some of the early studies that were used in developing subsistence policy for Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. One of Richard's most important strengths has been his ability to really listen to his teachers in the villages, and in this recording it becomes clear just how hard he worked to gain a cross-cultural understanding of subsistence issues and then to communicate that understanding to park planners. He describes the political climate of the 1970's and the sense of urgency about protecting land and lifeways from uncontrolled resource extraction industries. He also recalls how his personal interest in living close to the land fit well with his anthropological commitment to extensive fieldwork in the villages based on participating and observing. Finally, he offers a perspective to park personnel who may come from the Lower 48 and have little understanding of Native culture. He urges such people to try to understand the spiritual dimensions of subsistence, and to recognize Native cultures as a critical resource to that understanding.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 93-15-30

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Sep 22, 1992
Narrator(s): Richard Nelson
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
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1) His personal background

2) Hawaii--trip outside and some of his written work

3) Kobuk study as a prelude to Gates

4) The political climate making the planning of Monuments useful

5) Observation of Non-Native living and subsistence in the Kobuk area

6) Intended results of subsistence studies

7) Flexibility of subsistence

8) Where and why Richard decided to live on the Koyukuk River

9) Huslia use of Gates

10) Personal interests in Natives spiritual ties to land and how it affected Park Service work

11) Other forms of publications used to discuss values

12) Advice to new Park Service manager on subsistence

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Section 1: University of Wisconsin -- anthropology major\ University of California, Santa Barbara\ Laughlin, William\ Kodiak Island\ Anangula Island -- in Aleutian Chain\ Ananuliak Island\ Wainwright -- subsistence\ Bane, Ray\ Chalkyitsik -- dissertation\ Kobuk River\ Kobuk National Monument\ Anderson, Douglas\ Kuuvangmiut\ Fairbanks\ Koyukuk\ Gates of the Arctic\ Bane, Ray\ Tracks in the Wildland\ Mautner, Kathy|

Section 2: University of Hawaii\ Tracks in the Wildland\ Koyukuk\ Ethnography\ Make Prayers to the Raven\ Shadow of the Hunter -- Wainwright\ National Park Service -- subsistence studies\ Reckord, Holly|

Section 3: Kobuk -- study\ National Park Service -- researcher selection\ Anderson, Doug\ Anderson, Wanni\ Bradley, Zorro\ Bane, Ray\ Tuarak, Nita Sheldon\ Ambler -- subsistence studies\ Onion Portage\ land -- usage\ subsistence -- quantification\ subsistence -- mapping\ subsistence -- fluctuation\ waterfowl\ research -- ethical issues\ research -- ownership of fieldnotes|

Section 4: National Park Service -- Gates of the Arctic\ subsistence -- traditional\ National Park Service -- documentation of Native use\ National Park Service -- personal conflict\ Bradley, Zorro\ Belous, Bob\ land -- Native use\ National Park Service -- turnover\ elders -- educators|

Section 5: subsistence -- non-Native\ non-Native -- acculturation\ Jones, Keith\ Jones, Anore\ Kantner, Howie\ Kantner, Erna\ Onion Portage\ subsistence -- cultural viewpoint\ subsistence -- cultural difference\ land -- Native use\ "wilderness" -- defined\ Marshall, Robert\ wildland -- defined|

Section 6: subsistence -- studies\ land -- Native use\ park -- ideal function\ land -- status quo\ transportation -- development\ subsistence -- Native mangement\ subsistence -- alienation\ subsistence -- Non-Native|

Section 7: subsistence -- flexibility\ animal -- population\ subsistence -- economics\ subsistence -- incentive\ subsistence -- cycles|

Section 8: Bane, Ray\ Mautner, Kathy\ Hughes\ Allakaket\ Alatna\ Bettles\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ Huslia\ Brooks Range\ Bane, Barbara\ National Park Service\ Bradley, Zorro\ Gates of the Arctic\ Kobuk\ dog team\ Ambler\ Shungnak\ Dakli Pass\ Fairbanks\ Juneau\ Mautner, Kathy|

Section 9: Huslia\ Gates of the Arctic\ Bane, Ray\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ Hughes\ National Park Service -- geographic studies\ park studies -- cultural\ land -- spirituality|

Section 10: land -- spirituality\ Koyukuk\ nature -- spirituality\ National Park Service\ Chalkyitsik\ Huslia\ Hughes\ dog team\ National Park Service -- interpreter of land\ North Slope|

Section 11: Bane, Ray\ Mautner, Kathy\ Tracks in the Wildland\ Koyukon Natives\ boreal forest\ Make Prayers to the Raven\ The Island Within\ land -- spirituality\ nature -- spirituality\ Koyukon -- traditions\ Brown, Bill|

Section 12: subsistence\ Koyukuk\ subsistence -- spirtuality\ nature -- spirituality\ park -- potential functions\ Make Prayers to the Raven\ Koyukuk|