News and Events

September 6, 2016
Mossolova presenting

Estonian Fulbright winner talks about UAA and her exploration of mask-making

Anna Mossolova earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees in semiotics and culture studies from the University of Tartu, Estonia. After graduating from her “relatively theoretical” master’s program, she decided to change her disciplinary approach and methods. “I wanted to focus more on the material culture of the past and its interpretations and meanings for people nowadays,” she said. So, in 2013, Mossolova started her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology to study the past and present of mask making in Southwest Alaska. Here, she talks about the Fulbright program that brought her to Alaska, her fascination with Alaska Native culture and the technology she learned at UAA that will help her in the future.

July 13, 2016
Summer field course

Recording lived history, at a Hatcher Pass gold mine

The history of industry has long fascinated UAA Professor Paul White, who earned master’s degrees in historical and industrial archaeology in New Zealand and the United States before receiving his Ph.D. in anthropology from Brown University.

Now, the anthropology professor and five of his students are immersed in a field class high above the ruins of Independence Mine in spectacular Hatcher Pass, at a Depression-era compound known as Gold Cord Mine. They’ve spent two weeks there so far, meticulously measuring walls and recording every feature and component of the mine’s mill. In their off time, they live in a structure that had been the mine’s original cookhouse and administrative quarters.

June 29, 2016
Alaskans in Hawaii

Research in Hawaii: ‘I’ve never crawled around in a lava tube before…’

Alaskans in Hawaii—happily soaking up light and sun in December and January—that’s hardly news. Buy me a ticket, right?

But UAA scientists and graduate and undergraduate students, employed and paid for their scientific skills as they survey for artifacts in Hawaii—now that’s something to talk about.

In these lean economic times in Alaska, the university system is working hard to reach out to the public with new inventions, ideas and skill sets. This particular project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers happened through the Applied Environmental Research Center within the UAA Business Enterprise Institute.

June 29, 2016

‘I want to strengthen the fabric of Unangan lives’

While Jana V. Lekanoff, a UAA anthropology student (and her older brother, Nicholai Lekanoff, a UAA mathematics student) both were born in Anchorage, they grew up on Unalaska Island, part of the Aleutian Chain, and think of Unalaska as home. “I truly love the beauty of our Aleutian landscapes,” she said. “My favorite memories include taking boat rides and going to our camp during the summers.” Her father and his parents were born there, and have lived their entire lives there, while her mother came to Unalaska with her family in the 1970s. Jana won the 2016 Second Bridge Scholarship Award, and will be using funding from that award to research the shifts between Unangan, Russian and English place names on Unalaska. One example: Capt. James Cook reported that Samgan Udaa meant “bay of snouts”, which evolved into Angliiskii Bay, a name derived from Cook’s winter stay in the bay. Now, that place is known as English Bay. 

April 18, 2016

UAA Department of Anthropology provides leadership at the International Conference of the Society for Applied Anthropology

Faculty, graduate students and former graduate students of the UAA Department of Anthropology played a significant role in the success of the 76th annual meeting the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) held in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, March 29 - April 2, 2016.

March 30, 2016

A linguistic look at Anchorage and community

“My first step, when one starts to roll now, is to open the door. It’s much easier to prop one shut if you need to later than it is to try to pull on it and it’s stuck.” — a research subject discusses one of her recollections of the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964. UAA student Yvette Pype interviewed the woman as part of a linguistics research project she devised with guidance from Dr. Clare Dannenberg, in which Pype talked with a dozen subjects from Anchorage about their recollections of the quake and 9-11. Pype will present her findings April 15 during the UAA Undergraduate Research and Discovery Symposium. Project posters will be displayed at the UAA/APU Consortium Library from April 11-14. We recently spoke with Pype and Dannenberg about their work.

January 6, 2016

Bringing it all back home: Learning a new way to highlight Alaska Native culture

"When I carried the object out of its place no one interfered, but if only one of the true warriors of that clan had been alive the removal of it would never have been possible. I took it in the presence of aged women, the only survivors in the house where the old object was kept, and they could do nothing more than weep when the once highly esteemed object was being taken away to its last resting place.”

Louis Shotridge, a Tlingit man from Klukwan who became a University of Pennsylvania Museum curator 100 years ago, explained in a journal entry how he took a shark helmet from his own clan—the “only one of its kind”—after buying it from a Kaagwaantaan clan member for $350 in 1929.

  • 2015



    Miasma and maggots: UAA forensics class digs up carcasses for science

    After a couple of hours of exhuming a bear carcass from its muddy grave in Midtown Anchorage, the sickly sweet smell of mortified flesh pervaded the woodlot.

    A graduate student helping supervise the dig, Danielle Ellis, summed up the olfactory experience: "When you inhale, you can taste it in your mouth."

    November 10, 2016

    Anchorage Science Pub: Reading the Bones [Video]

    Dr. Ryan Harrod, Assistant Professor of Anthropology of UAA, discusses what the body can reveal about a person’s lived Experience within the archaeological and forensic context.

    October 29, 2015

    INDIE ALASKA: A Forensic Investigation

    Dr. Ryan Harrod recently buried some strange remains in the woods behind the University of Alaska Anchorage. Join his team of student investigators and find out more about the world of forensic anthropology.

    October 22, 2015

    Alaska tribe reclaims totem pole taken by famed actor John Barrymore in 1931

    A stolen totem pole that went from the garden decor of two golden-age Hollywood actors to the basement of a Hawaii museum has been returned to Southeast Alaska tribal members.

    Screen legend John Barrymore was traveling along the Alaska coast by yacht and directed crew members to take the totem pole from an unoccupied village in 1931, said University of Alaska Anchorage professor Steve Langdon, who has long researched the object. They sawed it in three pieces.

  • 2014


    In the September/October 2014 issue of Anthropology News, Dr. Ryan Harrod co-authored a paper titled Peace at Any Cost: When Violence Is Used as Social Control with Debra L. Martin (University of Nevada-Las Vegas).

    m4XdAJanuary 13, 2014 - UAA Anthropology Alumni and Special Exhibit Curator at the Anchorage Museum Aaron Leggett was awarded the Governor's Award for the Arts and Humanities. He was recognized for his work on the major Dena'ina exhibit which recently concluded at the Anchorage Museum. He was one of four recipients of the Governor'sAward. In case you missed the information about the Dena'ina exhibit at the Anchorage Museum, it was highlighted in Hometown U (the Anchorage Daily News and UAA Green and Gold). An additional article was written by Mike Dunham.

    "The Tlingit cosmos is filled with spiritual presence, essences, and powers that exist both within and beyond direct experience. Tlingit life is fundamentally relational in that interactions with others establish the basis for existence and well-being. All spiritual forms are attentive, sentient, and volitional and positive relations with them are essential." Dr. Steve Langdon presented his lecture Spiritual Connections and Obligations: The Foundation of Tlingit Existence, the first of five Native spirituality programs sponsored by Sealaska Heritage Institute as part of Alaska Native and Native American Heritage Month.