AAA Annual Meeting Program

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Paper Information:
This paper may be of particular interest to:  Practicing and Applied Anthropologists   
Type: Paper
Paper Title: POSITIONS OF POWER AND THE POWER OF POSITION: LANDSCAPE AND SOCIOPOLITICAL MEANING IN AN EARLY CONTACT DENA'INA ATHABASCAN COMMUNITY
Author: DAVID YESNER (University of Alaska-Anchorage), FRAN SEAGER-BOSS   
Date/Time: Thu., 8:30 AM
Co-Author(s): DAVID YESNER (University of Alaska-Anchorage), FRAN SEAGER-BOSS 
Abstract: Understanding the transformation of political leadership in traditional hunting and gathering societies is a critical aspect of analyzing acculturative changes resulting from EuroAmerican contact in the past several centuries. Rates of change in different elements of social and political systems reveal which of these elements remain intact while other elements of material culture and economic systems have become greatly transformed. For Dena’ina Athabascan people this is an important issue linked to ideas about cultural identity, since identity is usually cast largely in social rather than economic terms, and linked particularly to the web of kin relations. The transformation of the role of the traditional Dena’ina political-economic leader, the qesh'qa (frequently translated as “rich man” or “chief”), linked to an interrelated set of other economic and social changes, is a critical part of this analysis. In order to contribute to an understanding of traditional political leadership of Dena’ina Athabascans and its transformation during EuroAmerican contact, we excavated an early contact period "nichi?" (traditional house) of a qesh'qa at Knik Lake in Upper Cook Inlet, Alaska (Nughay Bena or “Frog Lake” in the Dena'ina language). Like other such houses in the Cook Inlet region, it is located in a position of power above the point of entry of a red salmon stream into the lake, underscoring the role of the qesh'qa as "fishing cache master" and "master of animals." The results of these excavations shed significant light on issues of transformation of traditional political leadership during the postcontact period.

Program Number: 2-0060
Session Title: HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY IN THE NEW WORLD: POWER, DIASPORA, ARCHITECTURE, AND CIRCULATION
Session Sponsor: Archaeology Division
Session Date/Time: Thu., 8:00 AM-9:45 AM
Organizer(s): ANNUAL MEETING PROGRAM COMMITTEE (AAA) 
Chair(s): ROBBIE ETHRIDGE (University of Mississippi)  
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