I am a Ph.D. candidate in cultural anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Alaska-Southeast. I'm currently completing my dissertation in southern southeast Alaska. My research draws upon methods from anthropology, science & technology studies, environmental studies, and indigenous critical theory to examine local and tribal responses to climate change with a focus on ocean resources and human-animal relationships. This page will provide a place to see my current projects, learn about my personal and educational background, and read my blog posts, which focus on exploring my Alaska Native culture, climate change in SE Alaska, and my current research.
In addition to my dissertation project, I have a long term museum anthropology project started during the Smithsonian Summer Institute of Museum Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History. Working with a collection of cedar baskets made by Haida schoolchildren at the turn of the 20th century, I've used archival and catalog information to connect these baskets to the descendants of the original school children to examine the history of US imperialism, the use of Native crafts at expositions to demonstrate the diversity of US territories, and the use of education as a means to assimilate Native children. This connects to present movements in Native education to use crafts and traditional foods as a means to promote tribal sovereignty and improve educational outcomes.
I am also working on a manuscript about the work of kinship through naming ceremonies and new forms of genetic kinship. This is partly based on my family's own experience with genetic ancestry testing on my maternal side and the reinstitution of Haida naming ceremonies on my paternal side.
I grew up in a small community along the inside passage of southeast Alaska. My father's family is Haida, from the Raven moiety and double finned killer whale clan. My mother's family moved to Alaska when her father became a captain for the Alaska Marine Highway system. I spent my childhood playing in the rainforest, swimming in the Pacific Ocean, and reading about people from all over the world. I've worked in public health, hospitals, and curio shops, while teaching piano and acting in local theater. My family and this land give my work relevance. In recent years, I've taken up cedar basket weaving and invested a lot of time research my family history. In October of 2015, my extended Haida family held our first naming ceremony in at least 80 years. I received the name of my great-great-great grandmother, Háawandak. My fieldwork has also allowed me to remain close to my young niece and nephew. I love being an auntie!