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Phyllis Fast

Professor Emerita
Department of Anthropology and Alaska Native Studies
In Memoriam, 1946-2019


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, Harvard University, 1998


Healy, watercolor by Phyllis Fast
Dr. Fast retired Professor Emerita in 2014 after 10 years in the Departments of Anthropology and Liberal Studies and many years at UAF in the Alaska Native Studies program. She received a BA in English from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, an interdisciplinary M.A. in Anthropology and English on Alaska Native Literary Forms from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and a PhD in Social Anthropology from Harvard University. After receiving her first degree at UAF, Dr. Fast studied both Western and Alaska Native art, and developed a career as a gallery artist in Anchorage. Her research interests related to Alaska Native peoples, literary, visual and performative arts, as well as areas of transnational political and social economy as it related to Indigenous peoples, particularly in the area of gender relations. Among her favorite courses taught were Alaska Native Cultures, Anthropology of Art, and Native North Americans. She was the author of Northern Athabascan Survival: Women, Community and the Future. In 2009, Dr. Fast was part of a research team investigating Native perspectives on Alaska’s statehood for Sealaska Heritage Institute. Dr. Fast, a Koyukon Athabascan, conducted research among Athabascan elders for the project. After retirement, she completed two children’s books and four Native American novels. She passed away in January 2019 but will be forever remembered as a kind, wise, and witty colleague and mentor. She is memorialized in Beatrice McDonald Hall with her original watercolor “Healy” that she donated to the Department of Anthropology.

Research Interests

  • Social anthropology
  • Gender
  • Alaska Native art
  • North America.