Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

David L. Moore

Commitee Members

Dan Flores, Nancy Cook


nature writing, subsistence


University of Montana


Yup’ik writers and Yup’ik subsistence offer valuable challenges, parallels, and alternative models to mainstream nature writing’s discourse surrounding human relationships to the land, a discourse that carries an inherent agricultural bias. An introduction to western Alaska’s Nunivak Island provides context for Chapter 1, which demonstrates the fluidity of cultural, geographical, and historical margins through discussion of the works of Yup’ik journalist John Active and historian and ethnographer James Clifford. Chapter 2 provides an overview of Yup’ik subsistence centered around the community of Bethel, Alaska, then subjects mainstream nature writing, represented mostly by Wendell Berry, to critiques supplied by Canadian anthropologist Hugh Brody, who asserts that “Western” discourse carries traces of the myths of Eden and the curses of the book of Genesis. Chapter 3 returns to the geography and stories of Nunivak Island before detailing the contributions that Yup’ik writers like Oscar Kawagley and John Active have to offer back to the prevailing discourse, contributions that stress the importance of sharing and kinship and stress the dangers of commodification.



© Copyright 2007 Benjamin Kuntz