Conflicting Visions in Alaska History
Alaska Historical Society Annual Conference
The Alaska Historical Society will be hosting their 2022 annual conference on October 6-8 and 13-15, 2022, in collaboration with the Cook Inlet Historical Society. An in-person reception and keynote presentation by environmental historian Bathsheba Demuth (“History from a Dogsled: The Yukon and the Stakes of Telling the Past”) will occur at the Anchorage Museum on October 6 at 7pm and will be live streamed. The rest of the conference presentations and panel discussions will be virtual through the Crowdcast streaming application. Some in-person tours may also be available in Anchorage.
October 6-8 and 13-15, 2022
Demuth’s talk looks at the intertwined, co-dependent lives of people, dogs and salmon along the 19th century Yukon River for examples of how to tell more capacious, polyvocal narratives—and the stakes of doing so for and about Alaska, a place where the politics of who speaks the past has bearing on present conflicts over land, meaning, and the possibilities of the future. Her presentation will be followed by a book-signing for her award-winning book, Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait.
Demuth is an associate professor of History and Environment and Society at Brown University where she specializes in the lands and seas of the Russian and North American Arctic. Her interest in the north began when she was 18 and moved to the village of Old Crow in the Yukon Territory of Canada, where she spent several years mushing, hunting, fishing, and otherwise learning the ways of the taiga and tundra.
She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brown University, and master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Her writing has appeared in publications from The American Historical Review to The New Yorker. Floating Coast was named a best book of 2019 by Nature, National Public Radio, Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal, among others. A current Carnegie Foundation Fellow, she is working on a book about the environmental pasts of the Yukon River.
For more information about Bathsheba Demuth and her presentation, see the Alaska Historical Society’s July 7, 2022 Press Release, “National Author, Environmental Historian to Open Fall History Conference.”
Please sign up individually for each event you wish to attend. You will receive information and a link to join the conference in late September.
Conference Theme: Conflicting Visions in Alaska History
Alaska history provides numerous examples of conflicting visions. Russian colonizers coerced Native labor to pursue sea otters for a profitable commercial trade, disrupting the Native subsistence economy and decimating populations. Following the U.S. purchase of Alaska, conflicts arose as fortune-seekers reaped profits from this resource-rich territory, often with disastrous consequences to the indigenous people already occupying Alaska. The discovery of oil in Prudhoe Bay and the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) and Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act set the stage for legal battles over land and resource use.
Other conflicting visions in our history revolved around education. For example, the practice of removing Alaska Native children from their communities and taking them to boarding schools, intended to educate and “civilize” them, harshly curtailed the transmission of Native language and culture. The conference will include a panel on Alaskan boarding schools, featuring former students at Mount Edgecumbe and other schools.
The conference also highlights the importance of recent history. Panels are planned on the rollout of ANCSA and preparations for the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline, both of which occurred within the last 50 years. We plan to offer mini- workshops in methods of studying, archiving, interpreting and teaching recent history.
For more information or questions about the conference, contact: Rachel Mason, Program Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annual Business Meeting
The Alaska Historical Society board is encouraging all AHS members to participate in this year’s virtual business meeting, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 14 2-3:30 p.m, as part of the annual conference. Click here for the business meeting agenda.
The primary agenda item is consideration of changes to AHS bylaws, which have not been updated since 2009. The board is requesting members approve changes to permit electronic voting and circulation of information, among other issues. Click here to view the AHS bylaws with the proposed 2022 revisions. Click here to view the AHS Bylaws with the proposed 2022 revisions.
The meeting also will have reports of the past year’s activities, announcement of newly elected members of the board of directors, presentation of the society’s annual awards, and remembrance of our colleagues who died this past year. There will be time for members to speak on issues of concern to Alaska’s history community and propose programs and projects for the society to undertake.
The Zoom link and passcode to participate in the business meeting will be included in the mailing that members will receive later this month with the ballot for election of directors, as well as if you register for the conference. Members unable to attend the meeting may vote by proxy and a form will be included in the mailing.
If you wish to attend, and are not participating in the full fall conference, please email email@example.com for information on how to join the meeting.