The Fishermens Frontier: People and Salmon in Southeast Alaska

Paperback | October 31, 2011

byDavid F. ArnoldForeword byWilliam Cronon

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In The Fishermen's Frontier, David Arnold examines the economic, social, cultural, and political context in which salmon have been harvested in southeast Alaska over the past 250 years. He starts with the aboriginal fishery, in which Native fishers lived in close connection with salmon ecosystems and developed rituals and lifeways that reflected their intimacy.

The transformation of the salmon fishery in southeastern Alaska from an aboriginal resource to an industrial commodity has been fraught with historical ironies. Tribal peoples -- usually considered egalitarian and communal in nature -- managed their fisheries with a strict notion of property rights, while Euro-Americans -- so vested in the notion of property and ownership -- established a common-property fishery when they arrived in the late nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, federal conservation officials tried to rationalize the fishery by "improving" upon nature and promoting economic efficiency, but their uncritical embrace of scientific planning and their disregard for local knowledge degraded salmon habitat and encouraged a backlash from small-boat fishermen, who clung to their "irrational" ways. Meanwhile, Indian and white commercial fishermen engaged in identical labors, but established vastly different work cultures and identities based on competing notions of work and nature.

Arnold concludes with a sobering analysis of the threats to present-day fishing cultures by forces beyond their control. However, the salmon fishery in southeastern Alaska is still very much alive, entangling salmon, fishermen, industrialists, scientists, and consumers in a living web of biological and human activity that has continued for thousands of years.

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In The Fishermen's Frontier, David Arnold examines the economic, social, cultural, and political context in which salmon have been harvested in southeast Alaska over the past 250 years. He starts with the aboriginal fishery, in which Native fishers lived in close connection with salmon ecosystems and developed rituals and lifeways tha...

David F. Arnold is professor of history at Columbia Basin College, Pasco, Washington. He has also worked extensively in the commercial salmon fisheries of Alaska.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:296 pages, 9.01 × 6.01 × 0.68 inPublished:October 31, 2011Publisher:University Of Washington PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0295991372

ISBN - 13:9780295991375

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Table of Contents

Foreword: On the Saltwater Margins of a Northern Frontier / William Cronon

Acknowledgments

Introduction: The Fishermen's Frontier in Southeast Alaska

1. First Fishermen: The Aboriginal Salmon Fishery

2. The Industrial Transformation of the Indian Salmon Fishery, 1780s-1910s

3. Federal Conservation, Fish Traps, and the Struggle to Control the Fishery, 1889-1959

4. Work, Nature, Race, and Culture on the Fishermen's Frontier, 1900s-1950s

5. The Closing of the Fishermen's Frontier, 1950s-2000s

Epilogue: Endangered Species?

NotesSelected BibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

In The Fishermen's Frontier, David Arnold examines the economic, social, cultural, and political context in which salmon have been harvested in southeast Alaska over the past 250 years. He starts with the aboriginal fishery, in which Native fishers lived in close connection with salmon ecosystems and developed rituals and lifeways that reflected their intimacy.The transformation of the salmon fishery in southeastern Alaska from an aboriginal resource to an industrial commodity has been fraught with historical ironies. Tribal peoples -- usually considered egalitarian and communal in nature -- managed their fisheries with a strict notion of property rights, while Euro-Americans -- so vested in the notion of property and ownership -- established a common-property fishery when they arrived in the late nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, federal conservation officials tried to rationalize the fishery by "improving" upon nature and promoting economic efficiency, but their uncritical embrace of scientific planning and their disregard for local knowledge degraded salmon habitat and encouraged a backlash from small-boat fishermen, who clung to their "irrational" ways. Meanwhile, Indian and white commercial fishermen engaged in identical labors, but established vastly different work cultures and identities based on competing notions of work and nature.Arnold concludes with a sobering analysis of the threats to present-day fishing cultures by forces beyond their control. However, the salmon fishery in southeastern Alaska is still very much alive, entangling salmon, fishermen, industrialists, scientists, and consumers in a living web of biological and human activity that has continued for thousands of years.Because The Fisherman's Frontier looks beyond the classic role of the fishery in Alaska and, instead, tells a story of fishermen and how their relationship with the natural environment changed over time, Alaskans as well as the many folk who make their living fishing northern waters will appreciate this book. - Katherine Johnson Ringsmuth, author of Snug Harbor Cannery: A Beacon on the Forgotten Shore, 1919-1980